In the News
Wishing a happy and healthy New Year to all our readers and just a reminder that we'll be back with our first offering of 2011 on Monday, January 17th.
JRF: In work but still poor - A new report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows the number of children living in poverty in working households has increased to 2.1m – the highest on record.
The report shows that, despite the recession, overall the number of children living in poverty fell to 3.7m, with the number in workless households falling to 1.6m, the lowest since 1984. But those in working families rose slightly to 2.1m, and they now account for 58% of the total.
Despite overall reductions, health inequalities between different class and/or income groups remain wide & persistent. For instance, the risk of mental illness for someone in the poorest 20% of the population is around twice the average. In addition, although there have been improvements in educational attainment, 2009 saw the first rise in the proportion of children, aged 11, not reaching basic levels of numeracy & literacy for over a decade.
OFT: Does it matter who owns UK infrastructure as long as it is adequate to support a recovering economy? - The OFT has recently published its map of who owns what across the UK's economic infrastructure. Its report also says that the potential for change of ownership through strong capital market competition can place an important discipline on firms and can put downward pressure on costs. In this context, it says foreign investment can be very positive in strengthening capital market competition.
However, the OFT found that the potential for market power exists in many infrastructure sectors and that this can affect outcomes for consumers. 4 case studies - into ports, waste, toll roads & car parks - highlight the importance of considering competition when awarding concessions and procuring infrastructure projects.
The key aims of the stock-take were to map ownership & control across the economic infrastructure sectors such as ports, airports, energy and water networks, assess how ownership of infrastructure affects outcomes for consumers in these markets and examine the different forms of ownership.
NAO: Restoring the balance as to who funds public sector pensions? - Changes made in 2007-08 to the pension schemes of civil servants, NHS staff & teachers are ‘on course to deliver significant savings & stabilise pension costs’ around their current levels as a proportion of GDP. The changes are also set to transfer, from taxpayers to employees, extra costs if pensioners live longer than currently expected.
The NAO estimates that these changes will reduce costs to taxpayers in 2059-60 by 14% compared to forecasts made without the changes. Aggregate savings over all years in the period to 2059-60 are equivalent to £67bn in 2008-09 prices.
MoD: Something all political parties can agree on (one hopes) - Prime Minister, David Cameron, has welcomed the publication of an independent report into innovative ways to support the Military Covenant - the bond between the nation and her Armed Forces, which the Government has promised to rebuild.
Professor Hew Strachan’s report looks at support that can be provided across Government & throughout society and makes many recommendations for the Government to consider. The Government will begin work immediately on two recommendations in the report:
* The first is for an Armed Forces Community Covenant, which encourages communities across the UK to volunteer support for their local Armed Forces.
* The second is for a Chief of the Defence Staff Commendation Scheme, which will allow the head of the UK's Armed Forces to thank individuals or bodies who give exceptional support to the Armed Forces.
In addition to the task force report, the Government has also committed to ensuring that progress is made on rebuilding the covenant, year-on-year. That is why it has brought forward legislation within the Armed Forces Bill for the Defence Secretary to present an Armed Forces Covenant report to Parliament every year, setting out how the Government is supporting our Armed Forces, their families & veterans in key areas such as healthcare, housing and education.
ICO: It’s legal to ‘Smile please’ at school - The Data Protection Act does not prevent family & friends from taking photographs at school concerts or plays this Christmas, according to the Information Commissioner. Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham said: “It is disappointing to hear that the myth that such photos are forbidden by the Data Protection Act still prevails in some schools”.
CRUK: A new treatment increases survival to almost 70% for children whose acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) returns. The results of the trial were so promising that now all children with relapsed ALL are being offered the trial drug Mitoxantrone.
The news comes a month after Cancer Research UK launched their annual Little Stars Awards, which recognise the courage of children who have encountered cancer and are backed by a host of celebrities, including singer Leona Lewis and footballer Ryan Giggs.
Newswire – WWF: Trials already underway in several EU Member States allowing fishermen to land more of their catch as a result of the EU-Norway fisheries agreement reached last week. WWF welcomes the agreement which aims to halt the wasteful practice of discarding, particularly for cod & whiting. Currently up to 50% of all fish caught in the North Sea is thrown back (discarded).
NA: The National Archives' web continuity service was named as one of the runners-up in this year's Digital Preservation Awards at a ceremony at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Redirection software enables users who click on a link that is no longer live to be automatically taken to the page held in The National Archives' UK Government Web Archive.
The archive, which contains more than 1bn pages of archived web pages going back to 1997, regularly captures & preserves thousands of government websites which would otherwise be lost.
Press release ~ Digital Preservation Awards ~ Memento Project ~ Institute for Conservation ~ web continuity service
Newswire – CWDC: The Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) is calling for recruiters in all organisations that work with children & young people to complete FREE Safer Recruitment Online Training to help safeguard children. The package covers what constitutes abuse, recruitment processes that should be followed, the current arrangements for vetting & checking and how to manage allegations.
CWDC has also launched face-to-face Safer Recruitment Training, available nationally across England through a consortium led by Action for Children. There are a limited number of free places for small organisations.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is contacting thousands of people to warn them they could become victims of share fraud, after it recovered its biggest ever ‘master list’ used by boiler room fraudsters. The list contains the names, addresses & telephone numbers of 49,387 people and includes potential victims who the FSA believes may have been contacted out of the blue and offered worthless shares.
WAG: Due to the severe weather conditions currently being experienced across Wales the, the Welsh Assembly Government has announced that the Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) application window for the second year of the scheme has been extended and will now close on the 14 January 2011.
CRC: The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Network will continue to operate through to 2013, as required under the European Rural Development Regulation. It has now been confirmed that the overall responsibilities for hosting the Network will transfer to the new Rural Communities Policy Unit in Defra from the 1 December 2010 onwards.
Newswire – CWDC: The second intake of graduates are now being recruited to CWDC’s pioneering New Leaders in Early Years programme. Apply now to start the programme in February 2011. The course, run in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, aims to develop a new generation of early years graduate leaders. Students must have at least a 2.1 honours degree and a high level of early years knowledge & skills.
LDA: 'Making Space in Dalston' - the London Development Agency (LDA) £1m initiative to improve Dalston's open spaces - has been recognised by a series of awards. The initiative - a series of 76 micro-projects - has been lauded by the Landscape Institute Awards, the Hackney Design Awards and Capital Growth. It is part of the Mayor of London's £220m 'Great Outdoors' public realm improvement programme.
CEOP: The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Conference held last week highlighted that international law enforcement agencies need to work with global industry partners, including non-government organisations, to keep children across the world safe from online child sexual exploitation. The VGT approach into the future will not only involve law enforcement, but industry, key international non-government organisations, academia and continue working with today’s youth.
Along with the DROID file format identification tool, which uses the database, PRONOM enables digital archivists, records managers and anyone using the tool to find out what files they have, in which formats and how best to ensure their long-term preservation.
DfE: Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has confirmed up to £2m to fund tighter security measures in Jewish faith schools. Community Security Trust (CST), a charity working to ensure the safety & security of the Jewish community in the UK, will receive revenue funding for the extra measure of security guards at 39 Jewish voluntary-aided faith schools across England.
MLA: From Brighton to Edinburgh, museums across Britain are preparing to welcome more than 2.5m visitors to Stories of the World projects, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Hosted in 60 museums across 35 towns & cities, a series of 300 innovative exhibitions & events are being designed & created with the largest number of young people ever to have worked behind the scenes at museums.
WAG: The Social Justice & Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, has launched ‘Raising the Profile: Meeting the Challenges’, a 3-year action plan to support credit unions in Wales. Objectives include strengthening the governance of credit unions, increasing the number of credit union members and raising the profile of credit unions in Wales.
OFT: The OFT has announced a study into commissioning & competition in the provision of public services, designed to help government buyers promote competition in markets in order to realise better value for money.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
HMT: A number of changes to legislation to tackle tax avoidance have been announced. 2 measures with immediate effect will tackle tax avoidance by:
* preventing groups of companies using intra-group loans or derivatives, to reduce the group's tax bill
* addressing schemes where a company does not fully recognise certain amounts in its accounts involving loans and derivatives
Three measures with further detail to be set out shortly, will tackle tax avoidance through:
* addressing the practice of disguised remuneration
* stopping investment companies retrospectively changing the currency they prepare their accounts in for tax purposes
* tackling businesses who artificially split the supply of services to reduce VAT
DFID: The UK is giving extra support to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to develop farming practices which will help ensure more food is available for struggling communities.
One example of CGIAR's cutting-edge developments is a special flood-resistant rice that can breathe under water for up to 2 weeks. The grain – known as scuba rice – has a flood-resistant gene and survives by extending its leaves & stems above the water's surface to escape drowning.
DCMS: The Government has announced its ambition for a ‘digital hub’ in every community in the country, as part of an £830m strategy to make sure the UK has the best broadband network in Europe by 2015. ‘Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future’ sets out an action plan to stimulate private investment & competition, and create an environment in which business can flourish by removing key barriers around hardware & cutting costs. It also sets out how Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) will help connect the areas that the market alone cannot reach.
BIS: Universities minister, David Willetts, has said he expects universities who want to charge over £6,000 a year in tuition fees to do all they can to help students from poorer backgrounds. Mr Willetts has released an early draft of a guidance letter to the Director of Fair Access, saying that universities must commit to the new national scholarship programme and invest in helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential and desire to go to university.
DfE: Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, has recently asked Mr Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Union, to carry out an independent review into the commercialisation & sexualisation of childhood, and report back with recommendations in May 2011.
ScotGov: Scotland will support the Maldives to ‘develop renewable marine energy and go carbon neutral by 2020’. The partnership between the two countries will start with a study to assess the wave, tidal and ocean thermal energy potential of the Maldives, carried out by Robert Gordon University, a member of Scotland's Energy Technology Partnership.
OFT: The OFT has set out a long-term strategy to protect consumers shopping online in the UK. The national e-consumer protection strategy says online shopping, worth around £50bn, is ‘key to driving innovation & competition and has delivered huge benefits for consumers’. However it warns that continuing online innovation must be met with strategic enforcement to tackle new & complex forms of unfair trading that harm both consumers and markets.
HO: An ambitious new strategy with an ‘uncompromising’ drive to crack down on those involved in the drugs trade, at the same time as ‘revolutionising treatment services to offer recovery as a route out of dependency’, was unveiled last week by minister for crime prevention, James Brokenshire.
In a major policy shift, the strategy puts drug free recovery at the heart of the Government’s response and puts more responsibility on individuals to seek help and overcome their dependency. The new cross-government approach will also see a renewed focus on reducing demand and restricting supply.
WAG: Delivering a Digital Wales - a new strategy aims to ensure people & businesses in Wales can capitalise on the multi-million pound opportunities of the digital age and maximise the social & economic benefits for all. Although there has been substantial progress in developing the digital economy in Wales, a third of the adult population in Wales does not use the internet and less than 40% of Welsh SMEs actually sell on-line.
DWP: The Government has announced changes to Access to Work, a disability employment programme, to give disabled people faster and simpler support into work. Disabled jobseekers can now find out immediately if they’re eligible for Access to Work support by completing a short on-line questionnaire at Directgov. If eligible, they will be able to print off a new ‘Pre-Employment Eligibility Letter’ which will help build their confidence when applying for jobs and can be shown to prospective employers.
Access to Work advisors have also been issued with new guidance to ensure consistent decisions around what equipment employers should reasonably be expected to provide to any of their workers, so freeing resources to support workers with more extensive or specialist needs.
DCMS: An £80m fund is at the heart of a new Government drive to boost private giving to arts organisations and create a new generation of philanthropists. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England are to invest £80m in a new series of ‘match fund’ schemes, to raise at least an equivalent amount from private donors for the culture sector.
ACE: The findings of the Davey Report onEndowments in the arts, commissioned by the Secretary of State for Culture (as part of the Government's Philanthropy strategy), were outlined last week. The report sits alongside Neil MacGregor's report on endowments for museums & galleries and acknowledges the important timing of the Government's Philanthropy initiative.
CRC: The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has published a new training strategy & delivery plan for parish & town councils across England & Wales. The Commission for Rural Communities is delighted to welcome & support this new strategy.
WAG: Wales’ Social Justice Minister, Carl Sargeant, has launched a new strategy to educate children & young people on fire safety & prevention. The strategy sets out how Welsh fire and rescue services will educate youngsters on the dangers of fire & fire-related incidents. It also aims to discourage fire-related anti-social behaviour & crime carried out by children and young people, such as hoax calls or arson.
CLG: From 2011, housing associations will have an additional Affordable Rent option to offer households who need support. Affordable Rent properties will give housing associations the flexibility to offer fixed term tenancies to some new tenants at a rent level higher than social rent - with landlords able to set rents at up to 80% of local market rents.
WAG: Wales’ Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has set a 10-year challenge for the food & drink industry in Walesat the launch of the food strategy ‘ Food for Wales, Food from Wales 2010-2020’. A delivery plan for the strategy will be developed early in 2011.
ScotGov: A consultation has been launched (closes on 3 March 2011) on ways of giving Scottish Water increased flexibility to help build a low carbon economy. The Scottish Government’s 'Building a Hydro Nation - A Consultation', examines how Scotland, and in particular, Scottish Water, as a publicly-owned utility, can better exploit its expertise, assets and Scotland's water resources for the continuing benefit of water customers, the environment and the wider Scottish economy.
EU News: In a public consultation launched last week, the European Commission is asking businesses, consumers, telecoms operators and public authorities whether they see benefits in a system that would allow businesses to use the same telephone number in all EU Member States.
An EU wide phone number could help European businesses to offer cross-border sales more easily and facilitate access to after-sales and customer enquiry services irrespective of the Member State where the customer is situated. The consultation will run until 28 February 2011.
DWP: Last week the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, asked disabled people & their organisations to join the debate on reforming Disability Living Allowance. The proposals set out in the consultation (closes on 14 February 2011) are centred on ‘creating a clearer, more targeted benefit, with an objective assessment, designed to enable disabled people to participate more fully in society’.
To mark this important change, Disability Living Allowance will now be known as Personal Independence Payment, and will continue to be paid to people in & out of work. Reform of this benefit needs to follow a social rather than medical model based on a person’s needs and the barriers they face rather than their individual disability.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is consulting on its revised Strategic Plan for 2010-2015. The 5-year plan, first published in December 2009, sets the Agency’s strategic direction and priorities, and describes the outcomes the Agency aims to deliver to safeguard public health at all stages of the food chain. If you want to comment on the proposed strategy, your response must be received by Friday 11 February 2011.
OFT: The OFT has launched a consultation on its draft guidance for creditors on mental capacity. The draft guidance is designed to explain the steps the OFT expects creditors to take to identify borrowers who might lack the mental capacity to make informed borrowing decisions, where it isn't known that they lack capacity but there is reason to believe, or at least reasonable grounds to suspect, that this might be the case.
It also outlines the OFT's view of the appropriate way for creditors to deal with borrowers who do or might lack capacity and explains the practices & procedures it considers they should put in place. Closing date: 4 March 2011.
HO: Tougher entrance criteria, limits on work and an end to students staying in the UK to look for a job are just some of the changes proposed in a consultation (closes on 31 January 2011) as part of a shake-up of the student visa system. After their course finishes, students will have to leave the UK and apply for a new visa to further their studies, and show evidence of progression to a higher course.
LR: The Land Registry has launched a consultation (closes on 28 February 2011) on its proposed changes to land registration legislation to take account of changes made by the Legal Services Act 2007.
DECC: The Government has published proposals on how operators of new nuclear power stations will have to make secure financial provision for decommissioning without recourse to the taxpayer. The consultation on draft Funded Decommissioning Programme Guidance sets out how operators will be required to meet their obligation to have robust decommissioning plans and secure funds in place before constructing a new power station.
Also published last week was the consultation on a Waste Transfer Pricing Methodology. The Government intends to ensure the safe disposal of radioactive waste from new nuclear power stations without cost to the taxpayer, while facilitating investment through providing operators with the cost certainty they need to be able to invest.
A consultation on low-level radioactive waste from the non-nuclear sector has also been published. All consultations close on 8 March 2011.
MoJ: A ‘radical reform of the criminal justice system to punish criminals more effectively and reduce re-offending’ was announced last week. The green paper on sentencing & rehabilitation sets out plans to ‘break the destructive cycle of crime & prison by ensuring that jails become places of hard work, that rehabilitation programmes are opened up to innovation from the private and charitable sectors, paid by results, and that the priority will now be to reduce the re-offending by people after they have been punished’.
Despite a 50% increase in the budget for prisons & managing offenders in the last 10 years, around half of adult offenders re-offend within a year of being released from prison. There will also be new measures to force criminals to make amends to victims & communities for the harm they have caused.
The consultation on proposals will close on 4 March 2011. The Government will consult widely with stakeholders, analyse responses and publish a response setting out plans in May 2011.
EU News: The European Commission is seeking the views of consumers, businesses, telecom operators and public authorities on the EU mobile phone roaming market in a public consultation (closes on 11 February 2011). The EU Roaming Regulation imposed a cap on retail prices for roamed voice calls & text messages within the EU, but there is still no competitive Single Market for roaming services.
HMT: The Government has launched a public consultation on the discount rate used to set contribution rates in unfunded public service pension schemes (closes on 03 March 2011).
HMT: The Government has published draft clauses for Finance Bill 2011. This is the first time the Government has published the majority of draft clauses for consultation (closes on 9 February 2011) and marks the first step towards the Government's commitment to improving tax policy making.
The Government is also publishing a response to the consultation Tax policy making: a new approach, setting out changes to the way in which tax policy will be developed & communicated. As part of this, the Government has announced that Finance Bill 2011 will be published on 31 March 2011.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
SE: A new online tool from Sport England will help sports organisations to know more about their potential customers so they can offer the right sport in the right place, targeted in the right way. The web tool brings together Sport England’s insight & research on sports participation, with the wealth of information held by Experian and the mapping excellence of Ordnance Survey. It’s based on 19 sporting personality types developed by Sport England to help us understand attitudes to sport and motivations for doing it (or not).
Your Sunday roast could be hiding a salty secret according to a survey of roast dinner products. Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) looked at the level of salt in ready-made gravy, stuffing, Yorkshire puddings and other condiments often found on the family dinner table. Many of them were found to have high levels of salt, with some items containing a third of your daily allowance in just one portion.
Press release ~ BHF: Cut down on salt ~ High blood pressure ~ Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH)
Business Link: The standard rate of VAT is currently 17.5% but will be increased to 20% on 4 January 2011. The guide below tells you how to account for the change to the standard rate of VAT. It also tells you where you can get further information.
DfT: A free website to ‘help road safety practitioners evaluate their education, training and publicity activities’ was launched last week by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Department for Transport. At the heart of the Road Safety Evaluation website is E-valu-it- an interactive tool that ‘helps practitioners define exactly what they are doing and why, allows them to design and carry out their evaluation, and promotes the publication and sharing of results’.
Newswire – AC: The Audit Commission has indicated where users need to go for future information / help on:
* The National Indicator Set (NIS)
* Its Value for Money Tool
MLA: A guide to help council leaders & library practitioners act on the latest research into what the public wants from library services, has been published by the MLA. The guide offers rich illustrations of good practice and tips on how to shape the service for the future.
IPCC: A major Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) study of 333 deaths in police custody published recently reveals a welcome, substantial fall in the number of deaths over an 11-year period, and puts forward actions for police forces & health service providers to help prevent further tragedies.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI has commented on the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) report: The Fourth Carbon Budget – Reducing emissions through the 2020s.
General Reports and Other Publications
Socitm: Potential for saving public funds through place-based budgeting could be frustrated without better understanding of how to manage & use information. This is the message from Too many cooks: the information management implications of place-based public services, the latest report from Socitm Insight.
Ofsted: Ofsted has reported that the best leadership in schools focuses on improving teaching & learning with headteachers seeing this as their core business. Common characteristics of the best leadership include honest self-evaluation and leadership shared across the school.
For the report Developing leadership inspectors visited 24 high-performing primary & secondary National Support Schools, led by National Leaders of Education. To be designated as a NLA you need to have a proven track record of outstanding leadership & management and be leading a school that achieves outstanding results for the community.
nef: Portraying investment banks as a giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, a new animation from The Great Transition campaign of nef (the new economics foundation) was launched last week, aimed at increasing public pressure on government to take on the banks and not sweep the issue under the carpet. The animation ask politicians if they have a plan to tame the banks, and if not, why not?
CfSJ: Nearly one in two children born today will suffer family breakdown by the age of 16, according to a new analysis of official figures. The new figure of 48% is markedly higher than the 40% chance of a split recorded a decade ago and has prompted new calls for measures to strengthen relationships.
The study, carried out jointly by the Bristol Community Family Trust (BCFT) and the Centre for Social Justice, also concludes that divorce is not the main driver of family breakdown - the collapse of cohabiting relationships lies behind the surge in lone parenthood
Newswire – CIPD: The practice of collecting, evaluating & reporting on human capital management (HCM) ‘enables better business decision-making and deepens understanding of the link between human resources, business strategy & performance’ according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
DfT: Rail passengers & taxpayers alike stand to benefit from a shake-up of the railways which could reduce running costs by up to £1bn per year and lead to better & more efficient train services. The potential savings - which can be achieved without cutting services - have been identified by Sir Roy McNulty after the Government commissioned him to investigate the industry's value for money.
Alongside its response to Sir Roy's interim findings, the Government has confirmed plans to reform the rail franchising system to make franchises longer, more flexible & more responsive to the needs of passengers while providing better value for taxpayers.
DfE: The Government has welcomed Dr John Dunford’s independent review of the Children’s Commissioner for England and his recommendations to change the role through legislation by strengthening its remit, powers and independence.
Newswire – TUC: Public sector job losses & welfare cuts will disproportionately hit women's income and set progress on closing the gender pay gap back years, the TUC warned, as it published a report on the gender impact of the cuts. The TUC is concerned that, as women represent 65% of the public sector workforce, they will bear the brunt of the estimated 400,000 public sector job losses over the next 4 years.
On average women working in the public sector earn almost 40% more per hour than female employees in the private sector. This highlights the importance of public sector employment in raising women's wages.
CfSJ: Claims that warnings about the demise of family life are ‘unfounded’ have been disputed by one of the country’s leading think-tanks. The Centre for Social Justice was commenting on a poll conducted for BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘Family Week’, which based its central conclusion on the fact that 97% of people say that their family makes them happy.
CSJ executive director Gavin Poole said that the BBC’s conclusion was ‘superficial’ and risked breeding complacency about the extent of family breakdown…..
CAB: 18% of the population don’t know what VAT stands for, let alone understand how to budget for the forthcoming VAT rise this January, according to a survey conducted by national charity Citizens Advice.
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy says:
“Christmas is a time of giving and it’s all too easy to overspend. There are enticing offers and pressures to buy and it can be tempting to ignore how much you are spending, but this may lead to problems in the New Year. Planning, budgeting and organisation are key to avoid getting into debt at Christmas and beyond. This is why we are issuing a ‘Top tips for Christmas’ leaflet in association with Barclaycard
PwC: The UK market potential for private & public sector partnerships (PPP) in healthcare delivery has been valued at approximately £1.8 trillion, according to PwC’s latest report - Build and Beyond: The (r)evolution of healthcare PPPs. Spending on healthcare among the OECD & BRIC nations will grow by 50% between 2010 & 2020, amounting to a cumulative total of more than $71 trillion.
PwC suggests that public & private sector partnerships are emerging as a model for financing & managing healthcare delivery globally and could create a multi-trillion global market for private companies and investors, relieve the burden on taxpayers and offer better quality health systems. Health PPPs in Spain ‘have already proven to save governments as much as 25% of healthcare costs’.
Newswire – CPA: The Committee of Public Accounts has published a report on the delivery of grants & loans to Higher Education students in England.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said:
“There must be a step change in the performance of the Student Loans Company if students are to receive the efficient, effective, value for money service to which they are entitled. …… The Company has improved its performance in 2010 but not by enough and we shall return to this issue in Autumn 2011 when we shall expect to see a substantially better service”.
ESC: The European Scrutiny Committee released its report on the proposed European Bill on the day of the Second Reading of the Bill in Parliament. The conclusions of the Committee are set out in the report and include that ‘the Government's assertions in its Explanatory Notes are unjustified and that Clause 18 does not address the vital constitutional issue of the competing primacies of EU and national law’.
ESRC: A study by the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme, a joint initiative by Research Council’s UK (RCUK), examines the relationship between successful ageing & mobility patterns. While maintaining mobility plays a significant part in healthy ageing, a new study highlights a ‘high degree of inactivity even among an 'elite' sample of fit and healthy older people aged between 72 and 92 years’.
AS: Scotland’s public bodies need to cut their energy use to minimise the impact of predicted price rises and to reduce carbon emissions, says Audit Scotland in a new report - Improving energy efficiency: a follow-up.
JRF: A new report released last week examines the relationship of young people with alcohol and identifies the factors behind their drinking habits. It highlights the influence of the way they go drinking with friends and how pricing plays a significant role in how much young people drink. The research was carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation by a team from Glasgow Centre for Population Health, who looked at the experiences of eighty 18-25 year-olds.
WAG: TB Health Check Wales was one of the first initiatives set up by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Bovine TB Eradication Programme. It was designed to provide better evidence for policy makers and the industry on how far & widely the disease has spread in Welsh cattle herds. 3 reports on this successful initiative have been published and they provide the most accurate & up to date picture of the spread of bovine TB in Wales and have resulted in changes to policies.
RUSI: The RUSI European Security Programme has worked in conjunction with 3 of Europe's leading think tanks to publish a report concerning defence spending and the restructuring of European armed forces in times of austerity. The report is a comparison of UK, German, French and Polish responses to the economic crisis and its effects on European defence budgets.
The project explores the policy options available to achieve savings, structural reform of the armed forces and the strengthening of the European Defence Technological & Industrial Base. Its aim has been to take stock of the financial crisis' impact on the defence budgets of Germany, France, the UK and Poland. A companion case-study delivers an overview of national austerity measures, how they impact upon the restructuring of the armed forces and how the crisis affects industry and government-industry relations.
Newswire – CPA: The Committee of Public Accounts has published a report on the financing of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects during the credit crisis and the Treasury's response.
HSE: The Health & Safety Executive launched ‘The Strategy for Health and Safety in Great Britain in the 21st Century’ in June 2009. ‘One year On: Being part of the solution’ highlights some of the many examples of new activities & initiatives that are underway so far.
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported that recent improvements to the youth justice system have contributed to reductions in recorded youth crime. However, despite a 25% reduction in the volumes of re-offending, young offenders who receive more serious community sentences or custodial sentences remain as likely to offend again as they were 10 years ago when the youth justice system was brought in.
DH: The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey sets out a roadmap for how the NHS can meet their needs. It reveals that 84% of those who had received one to one support had significantly higher rates of satisfaction across all aspects of their care.
Newswire – TUC: The TUC has published a new 5-year international development strategy, setting out how it plans to use members' money & grants from the government and other organisations to raise wages and improve rights for some of the world's poorest workers.
Ofsted: The London Challenge school improvement programme (set up in 2003) has continued to improve outcomes for pupils in London schools at a faster rate than nationally, according to a report launched by Ofsted.
The report, London Challenge, puts success down to ambitious and focused leadership of the programme; support for London Challenge schools from experienced & credible advisers; effective partnerships between schools in London; and systems in schools which secure the gains by tracking pupils’ progress.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: New controls are being introduced on 17 December 2010to deal with the persistent problem of sheep scab in Scotland. The legislation will put a legal obligation on any person who suspects that sheep in their possession or care have the infection to let their local Divisional Veterinary Manager know as soon as possible. Movement restrictions will then apply until the sheep are either treated or slaughtered, or a veterinary surgeon provides a negative diagnosis.
ScotGov: Shooting certain species of wildfowl is being suspended by Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham. Species such as ducks, geese and shore waders are unable to feed in the current freezing conditions, threatening the birds' natural survival. The suspension, brought into force under Section 2 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, prohibits the shooting of birds from 10 December 2010. It will last for 14 days but will be reviewed after 7 days.
ScotGov: A new law that will ditch the right to buy (RTB) for new council house & housing association tenants has been granted Royal Assent and is now an Act of Parliament. With Royal Assent, the Act's provisions on Right to Buy will come into force on 1 March 2011. It is expected that up to 18,000 homes would be kept in the social rented sector over the next 10 years, rather than being sold to tenants.
A new Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) will be created, and the introduction of a charter for social housing, aims to improve value for tenants & taxpayers by assessing landlords' performance. Around one in four Scottish households, about 600,000 homes, are in the social rented sector.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission recently launched an easy-to-use website to help public authorities and anyone who cares about the environment choose the cleanest and most energy-efficient vehicles available. The Clean Vehicle Portal will be of help as a new directive on the promotion of clean & energy efficient vehicles requires that, from December 2010, all purchases of vehicles for public transport services take into account energy consumption, CO2 emissions and pollutant emissions.
EU News: EU Justice Ministers have approved the start of talks between the European Union and the United States on a personal data protection agreement when cooperating to fight terrorism or crime. The aim is to ensure a high level of protection of personal information like passenger data or financial information that is transferred as part of transatlantic cooperation in criminal matters.
EU News: More than 10m people are now using a 'Europass' online CV (curriculum vitae) to help them find a job, according to latest figures compiled by the European Commission. By offering a standardised CV template, available in 26 languages, Europass helps job-seekers to market their knowledge and skills in a user-friendly way to employers all over Europe and beyond. Almost half of Europass users are under the age of 25.
BIS: Edward Davey, Minister for Employment Relations, visited Brussels last week to continue the UK Government’s lobbying on the Pregnant Workers Directive. The Government is concerned that a move to 20 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, as proposed by the European Parliament, would ‘impose considerable & unacceptable additional costs on many Member States at a time when economies across the EU can least afford it’.
Ministers also believe that the proposals put forward are socially regressive. It is estimated that the proposals put forward by the European Parliament would cost the UK more than £2bn per year.
BHF: European health ministers have agreed a compromise deal on how information is provided to shoppers on food packaging. Under European Council proposals food companies & supermarkets will be able to pick & choose how they present information to shoppers about what is in their food, providing it meets certain criteria. The British Heart Foundation believes the proposals are disappointing and the current confusion of food labelling systems in the UK will continue.
EU News: Over half the EU adult population is now overweight or obese according to the ‘Health at a Glance: Europe 2010’ report published by the European Commission and the OECD last week. The rate of obesity has more than doubled over the past 20 years in most EU Member States. This has considerable implications on health, health systems and on the wider economy and is one of the many findings in a report which provides useful insight into the current situation of health in the EU.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a communication setting out possible ways to reinforce sanctioning regimes in the EU's financial services sector. Today, rules vary greatly between Member States and, arguably, often do not serve as an effective deterrent.
Contributions from Interested stakeholders should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 19 February 2011. On the basis of the comments received, the Commission will decide in 2011 on possible proposals on how to reinforce sanctioning regimes.
EU News: The European Commission has fined six LCD panel producers a total of €648,925,000 for operating a cartel which harmed European buyers of television sets, computers and other products that use the key Liquid Crystal Display component.
EU News: The second phase of the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors was inaugurated last week during an induction & networking event that is co-organised by the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the European Council.
EU News: In order to help inform debate on genetically modified organisms, the European Commission has published a compendium entitled "A decade of EU-funded GMO research". The book summarizes the results of 50 research projects addressing primarily the safety of GMOs for the environment and for animal & human health.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a proposal on ‘contractual relations in the milk sector’, which aims to boost the position of the dairy producer in the dairy supply chain and prepare the sector for a more market oriented and sustainable future.
EU News: In a consultation launched last week, the EC is asking businesses, consumers, telecoms operators & public authorities whether they see benefits in a system that would allow businesses to use the same telephone number in all EU Member States – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU News: The EC is seeking the views of consumers, businesses, telecom operators & public authorities on the EU mobile phone roaming market in a public consultation (closes on 11 February 2011). The EU Roaming Regulation imposed a cap on retail prices for roamed voice calls & text messages within the EU, but there is still no competitive Single Market for roaming services - See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
WO: Former Welsh International and Barbarian flanker, Richard Parks, is about to embark on the ‘challenge of a lifetime’. Meeting Richard at her office at Gwydyr House, Secretary of State for Wales, Mrs Gillan, offered her support for the epic fund-raising challenge in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.
The ‘737 Challenge’ will see Richard begin a gripping 7-month expedition, climbing 7 summits on each continent and should he be successful – becoming the first person in history to stand on three poles in the same calendar year.
HL: According to Homeless Link, government spending cuts will hit homeless charities this winter, making it more difficult for them to help the most vulnerable. The cuts kick in as the UK is in the grip of arctic conditions and hundreds of homeless men & women are living rough on the streets of London.
The interactive project 150 Voices gives homeless people a voice & a chance to tell their stories. The website is regularly updated with new stories and the project will culminate in an exhibition next April.
Business and Other Briefings
Newswire – CBI: The UK manufacturing sector should be at the forefront of the country’s economic development, the CBI said last week, when it published its Vision and Ambitions for UK Manufacturing, ahead of a ‘widely anticipated Government framework for the sector and review of advanced manufacturing’.
PwC: Business believes that adapting to climate change is no longer an issue for governments to resolve alone, and it they can play a valuable role in advising on what policies would encourage action by business, according to a new study by PwC.
WAG: A review of the Assembly Government’s rates relief scheme has concluded that this financial assistance is supporting the sustainability of small businesses in Wales in the current economic climate. Since the scheme began in 2008, small businesses in Wales have received more than £50m via the rate relief scheme.
MLA: Getting Down To Business highlights the many practical & surprising ways in which London’s businesses can profitably work with its museums, libraries and archives. Published by MLA in partnership with Sparknow, the new report is a collection of essays & experiences from the Knowledge Transfer Programme in London’s museums, libraries and archives.
The purpose of this Brief is to expose draft legislation which amends the option to tax anti-avoidance test for supplies of land and buildings, explain the changes and invite comments.
This Brief announces a 4 week consultation to consider proposals to simplify the 'change in use' provisions. Subject to the consultation, these changes will be implemented in early 2011.
STFC: The social & economic benefits to the UK economy of the space sector was highlighted at an Information Day at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus (HSIC). The event heralded the STFC-led International Space Innovation Centre's place as the national hub of a major cluster of international space activities and saw an agreement made for the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Business Incubation Centre at the campus.
The space sector in the UK supports almost 68,000 jobs and contributes an annual turnover of £5.9bn; HSIC is fast becoming a major contributor to this as the national hub. ISIC will become operational in April 2011.
ScotGov: Scotland is to design a blueprint to ‘ensure carbon capture & storage technology (CCS) can be implemented effectively around the world’. The Global CCS Institute has asked Scotland to develop a toolkit to help nations test the strength of regulations & the permitting process, build knowledge and test public engagement, ensuring CCS can be safely rolled out.
DECC: Developers of new large-scale renewable electricity projects will get earlier & greater certainty about how much support they will receive under the Renewables Obligation from 2013. Industry will now get an indication of the support they will receive for new large-scale projects that start generating renewable electricity from April 2013, as early as mid-July 2011.
Under previous arrangements, support levels were not due to be finalised until Autumn 2012, meaning developers had been reluctant to start projects with long construction periods.
ACE: Cultural institutions are being encouraged to complete their registrations for Museums at Night 2011 by January 2011, in order to take full advantage of the programme's media coverage.
The weekend-long project, which last year saw over 280 museums & galleries across the UK open their doors after hours, will take place from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 May 2011. Last year 85,000 visitors attended the various events, nearly half of whom had never been to the visited venue before.
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.