In the News
DIFD: Remember also the ‘silent killers’ that rarely make the headlines, as they are not classified by the media as ‘Disasters’ - Mr Cameron has called on other donors to back the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as he announced the UK's commitment that will see an extra 45m children fully vaccinated against the disease.
In 20 years, polio cases have been reduced by 99% and the disease is now close to being only the second in history (after smallpox) to be wiped out. In 2010, India & Nigeria – historically the toughest challenges to eradication – cut cases by 95%, but polio still exists in more than a dozen countries, crippling & killing children.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed an additional $102m to support efforts to stamp out the disease. Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, which leads the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), joined the PM and Mr Gates for the announcement.
Polio remains endemic in 4 countries (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria & Pakistan) and there were outbreaks of the disease last year in Angola, DRC & Tajikistan. The new funding will help the GPEI purchase vaccines and conduct immunisation activities. In the next 2 years, more than 3bn doses of oral polio vaccine will be needed to immunize young children. Funding is also required for activities such as surveillance & technical assistance.
CSJ / HO: A ‘Social’ as well as a ‘Criminal’ problem - The Centre for Social Justice has responded to the launch of ‘gang injunctions’ by the Home Office. The CSJ is encouraged that the Coalition Government is beginning to take steps to try to address the rising problem of street gangs, however, it is concerned that there does not seem to be a unified & coherent strategy across the Coalition Government. There is a risk that a continued drip feed policy approach will fail to deal with the root causes of street gangs.
In addition, whilst the CSJ supports encouraging & supporting young people away from street gangs into positive activities (such as mentoring) as part of a strategy to tackle the problem, it does not believe that they should be forced into them, as required by the Coalition Government.
The CSJ published its report on street gangs (Dying to Belong) in February 2009, which sets out a blueprint for tackling the problem, and contains a number of policy recommendations: for the immediate-term, medium-term, and long-term.
Also last week - More than £18m to tackle knife, gun & gang crime was announced by the Home Secretary, responding to a report on knife crime projects published by Brooke Kinsella. The funding will be given to police, local agencies and the voluntary sector to tackle serious youth violence and prevent young people entering a cycle of crime.
The Home Office will also provide up to £20m towards the Early Intervention Grant (via the Department for Education) which local areas can use for crime prevention and up to £18m for Youth Offending Teams (via the Ministry of Justice) to deliver frontline work, including knife crime prevention programmes, for young offenders.
DfE: ‘Never again’ is yet once more a case of ‘here we go again’ - Professor Munro has signalled a new approach in her interim report on child protection which focuses on helping children, rather than on the regulations, inspections & procedures that have thrown the system out of balance. The interim report examines the areas of the child protection system where reform needs to take place. Currently the amount of prescription & bureaucracy in the system has meant that social workers are not able to do the jobs they came into the profession to do.
The report highlights the importance of having multi-agency services based in the community to help keep children safe and support their wellbeing, identify the children & families most in need and give them help as early as possible.
In her interim report Professor Munro identifies that too much time & effort is being spent by all the professionals working in child protection preparing for inspections and meeting the bureaucratic requirements for Ofsted evaluations of serious case reviews (SCRs). This has meant that too often SCRs have not offered enough analysis of why things have gone wrong and the lessons that can be learnt.
DH: But will the funding be enough? - New plans to transform the mental health & well-being of the nation and ensure that mental health is given the same importance as the nation’s physical health were announced last week. The No health without mental health Strategy outlines how a new emphasis on early intervention & prevention will help tackle the underlying causes of mental ill-health. It sets out how the Government will work with the NHS, local government and the third sector to help people recover & challenge stigma.
Central to these plans is an additional investment of around £400m to improve access to modern, evidence-based psychological therapies over the next 4 years.
Press release ~ No health without mental health Strategy & related documents ~ Future Vision Coalition press statement ~ Future Vision Coalition ~ NHS Confederation Mental Health Network ~ Audit Commission ~ Mental Health ~ Centre for Mental Health and Mental Health Network conference (3 March 2011) ~ KF: Paying the price - The cost of mental health care in England to 2026 ~ KF: Mental health and the productivity challenge ~ Mental Health Foundation ~ NICE press release ~ CAB response
Forthcoming event: Save Building Costs with Exchange-integrated Room & Hot Desk Booking - FREE BRIEFING, Microsoft HQ,
Reading, 3rd March, 10AM – 1.30PM + lunch - This free, half-day event aimed at IT & FM professionals, looks at practical ways of working with Microsoft Exchange to optimise the usage of expensive resources such as meeting rooms and conferencing facilities; simplify booking procedures for catering, AV equipment, car parking etc, and manage the often controversial introduction of ‘hot-desking’.
Featuring an entertaining presentation from Manchester PCT on how they managed the human challenges behind introducing a desk sharing initiative, this event will bring you up-to-speed on the issues surrounding new resource management initiatives.
We will also be showcasing the latest solutions and concepts designed to help you get the most out of your company email and calendaring systems, including:
Exchange-integrated room, catering, parking & hot-desk booking systems
The latest interactive touch screen technology for booking rooms etc
How to get end users working more effectively with calendaring
Click here for more
information & registration
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched its 2011 Scams Awareness Month, as new figures reveal the UK's top scams. New research commissioned by the OFT shows that 39% of people who lost money to a scam in the past 12 months were victim of a money transfer or advance fee scam. These dupe people into handing over their bank details or paying an up-front fee by leading them to believe they are entitled to an inheritance, donating to charity or even helping release funds from a corrupt country.
This year's Scams Awareness Month is seeking to raise awareness of the scale of the problem with a nationwide 'Scamnesty' run in partnership with 86 local authority Trading Standards Services (TSS). The campaign calls on consumers to drop scam mailings they have received into designated 'Scamnesty' bins, or boxes at local libraries & public areas across the country.
STFC: As the UK national partner in CERN, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is delighted that the first year of operations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been so successful that operations will be extended through 2011 to the end of 2012, increasing the likelihood of finding new scientific breakthroughs before the shutdown.
CLG: Final arrangements for a ‘fair & progressive funding settlement for councils that protect front-line services and shield the most vulnerable’ were published last week by Local Government Minister, Bob Neill. Councils will ‘only see an average 4.4% reduction in revenue spending power and the grant has been adjusted so none will now face more than an 8.8% fall’.
A growing number of councils have already indicated that they will be taking up the Government offer to fund a council tax freeze in April through its £650million fund. Authorities who do not increase their council tax are eligible for a grant worth 2.5% of their council tax.
FSA: The Co-operative has withdrawn Co-op British Extra Mature Cheese with a ‘best before’ date of 24 February 2011and Co-op Welsh Extra Mature Cheese with a best before date of 14 March 2011, because the products contain high histamine levels. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Withdrawal Information Notice.
FSA: Aldi has recalled 3 varieties of Gille Swedish Cookies because they contain egg, which is not mentioned on the product labels. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: Tins of Mas-River branded Fried Dace are being recalled by the UK importer Oriental Merchant (Europe) Ltd, because the product is from an unapproved establishment in Malaysia and high levels of histamine have been found in one batch of tins. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Food Alert for Action asking all authorities that may have distributors or retailers of this product in their areas to take action.
CO: A quick post code search on a new website allows you to find out what crime or anti-social behaviour has happened near you. The interactive maps can be accessed on computers & mobile phones and will open the door on crime & policing information, allowing people to view crimes including burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour in their areas.
Directgov: Watch out for emails claiming to be from DVLA asking you to verify your driving licence details via an online link – it's a scam. DVLA has not sent any such email, so if you get one delete it immediately. The email appears to be an attempt to trick drivers into providing personal details.
MoD: Under the auspices of Programme Future Brize (PFB) the development of RAF Brize Norton continues to move on apace. Under the plan, Brize Norton will be transformed into Defence's future sole Air Point of Embarkation, the main operating base for the RAF's air transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft, and the future home for 15% of the RAF's uniformed manpower.
Newswire – NHSC: The NHS Confederation has expressed its disappointment that Care Quality Commission's pledge to keep registration fees cost neutral has not been honoured. The NHSC has responded to the CQC consultation on proposed registration fees structure for 2011/12.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: Communities Minister Andrew Stunell has outlined plans for the new scheme that will enable homeowners & tenants to receive tailored advice about how to make their homes greener & save money, delivered direct to their door.
DH: A Government cancer awareness campaign to highlight the early signs & symptoms of bowel cancer was launched last week by Health Minister Paul Burstow. The ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign will initially be piloted in two regions and, if successful, will be rolled out across the country.
More than 90% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer at the early stage survive for at least 5 years compared with only 6.6% of those diagnosed at the late stage. 10,000 lives, across all cancers, could be saved each year if England matched the best cancer survival rates in Europe.
WAG: ‘Children remain a top priority for the Welsh Assembly Government’, Deputy Minister for Children, Huw Lewis said last week as he confirmed that funding for 4 Basic Skills programmes would continue until 2012. The 4 programmes – Bookstart, Language and Play, Family Support Programmes and Letterbox – receive a total of £3.6m.
CLG: The CLG department has published a policy document on the future financial arrangements for council housing entitled 'Implementing Self-financing'. This is accompanied by:
* A model which applies the settlement methodology to local authority data to provide indicative figures per council
* A user guide to accompany this model
* A report on the model inputs, assumptions and outputs
LGO: Camden Council’s arrangements for contracting out its school transport services were inadequate finds Local Government Ombudsman, Jane Martin, who recently reported on her investigation into a complaint concerning a vulnerable child who was transported to school by the Council’s contractors. The child was sexually abused by one of the drivers.
It transpired that the driver had a list of criminal convictions abroad for offences against children. Despite this, he obtained an enhanced certificate from the Criminal Records Bureau. This is subject to a separate complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
WAG: A Joint Declaration by the Welsh Assembly Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive has been sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer following last week’s Joint Ministerial Committee.
WAG: A new strategy to tackle child poverty in Wales was published last week by the Welsh Assembly Government.
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps last week announced plans to give members of the public the right to reclaim & develop hundreds of acres of unused public sector land & buildings, which are currently trapped in a bureaucratic quagmire. The new Community Right to Reclaim Land will help communities to improve their local area by using disused publicly owned land for new development.
By the summer, a new 1-stop shop will provide citizens with information about empty land & buildings they can develop to improve their local area. The new online tool will combine information from existing databases to form the bedrock of this new Community Right, which will also include an improved system for members of the public to request that empty public sector land or buildings are sold off, so they can be brought back into use.
BIS: Universities & Science Minister, David Willetts has announced the details of how eligible part-time students in England will benefit from new loans for tuition from the 2012/13 academic year.
ScotGov: Councils will be given new powers to increase council tax on Scotland's 25,000 long term empty homes raising up to £130m over 4 years to build low cost homes, it has been announced. The changes are expected to deliver around 800 homes annually and support 1,500 jobs in the construction sector and wider economy.
The measures are contained in a new policy paper, Homes Fit for The 21st Century, which sets out the Scottish Government's vision for housing to 2020.
HMT: During a visit to a high-tech manufacturing firm in Cheltenham, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, launched the Government’s new online Budget portal, which allows anyone to send their ideas for the Budget direct to the desks of the Treasury officials working on the Budget, which will be held on 23 March 2011. Representations should be sent to HM Treasury at least 3 weeks before the Budget
DWP: In the run up to the introduction of automatic enrolment, the Government has launched a call for evidence (close on 18 April 2011) to review the regulatory differences between trust-based occupational pension schemes and contract-based workplace personal pension schemes. The call for evidence is the first step towards ensuring that the legislative framework for workplace pension schemes is straightforward and supports the goals of increasing individuals’ retirement savings.
NICE: GPs and other health professionals, along with patients & charity groups, are being invited to suggest topics for new indicators for the 2013/14 Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). Suggestions, for the final phase of development of the indicators, should be based on NICE guidance or other NHS Evidence accredited sources. The online topic suggestion closes on 28 February 2011.
DfT: Local authorities will be given greater control over how their roads appear on maps & satnav systems - helping them to better direct traffic - under new government proposals (Closing date 1 May 2011).
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive has opened a consultation on proposed changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995. Changes to RIDDOR were recommended in the Young report on health and safety published last year, which contained a proposal to increase the threshold for reporting workplace injuries to 7 days.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
QCDA: The Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency have worked with schools to develop speaking assessment activities that encourage interactive talk between students, that are replicable & manageable and support & supplement guidance for Controlled Assessment of Speaking.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recently published updated final guidance on preventing osteoporotic fractures following a reconsideration of the use of strontium ranelate (Protelos).
The 2 pieces of guidance for both primary & secondary prevention of osteoporotic fractures recommend that strontium ranelate should be used in circumstances where patients are unable to tolerate oral bisphosphonates, and who are at high risk of osteoporotic fractures. This guidance has been produced following a Court ruling.
EU News: A new Guide aims at clarifying the European rules applicable to the organisation & financing of services of general interest. This Guide thus helps public authorities, especially at local level, to provide high quality & efficient services in line with the EU rules.
The Commission has also published another guide (IP/11/105) to help public authorities to buy goods & services in a socially responsible way in line with EU rules.
LSIS: New research resources are now available on the Excellence Gateway through the expanded Learning and Skills Improvement Services research site.
FSA: Gamekeepers across the UK are reminded of their responsibilities for ensuring animal feed is safe for food-producing animals and for carrying out recordkeeping correctly. Food Standards Agency guidance is available, explaining the requirements of EC Regulation 183/2005 ('The Feed Hygiene Regulation').
Defra: Defra has published new Green Claims Guidance to help companies describe the environmental credentials of their products in a way that people find easier to understand. The Guidance is designed to help consumers make more informed judgements about what they buy, prevent misleading claims and encourage the development of greener products. It is designed as a proactive toolkit - using principles & practical examples to help businesses get their green claims right.
SE: The launch of a new online governance, finance & control self-help tool for sports organisations was last week welcomed by the Minister for Sport & the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP. The tool -Things to Think About - has been developed by Sport England and UK Sport in response to requests from national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) for support as they develop their governance, finance and control frameworks.
It covers governance, strategic planning, financial management, human resources, organisational policy and risk management. It sets out the standards assessed in Sport England and UK Sport core-funded sports bodies, along with prompts to help organisations to think about the principles behind those standards, plus providing links to other specialist websites.
Ofcom: A new website has been launched to help consumers search for & compare the accessibility features of thousands of mobile handsets. The mobile accessibility website is part of an initiative designed to help disabled & elderly people identify mobile phones that have the features they need.
BIS: The Automotive Council has published a new guide (Technology and Manufacturing Readiness Levels – A guide to recognised stages of development within the automotive industry) which defines technology & manufacturing readiness levels. This will help steer developers & adopters of new automotive technologies through the stages of bringing new capabilities to market, from the early stages of research to supply chain entry.
ScotGov: A biennial survey into the opinions of NHSScotland employees was published last week. Over 42,000 staff across the whole of the health service took part in the survey, which aims to ensure that all employees are supported and their views taken into account.
Newswire – CIPD: This quarter’s Employee Outlook Survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) illustrates the extent to which employees are concerned about their standard of living, as inflation continues to erode the real value of wages. The survey finds almost a third of staff say their standard of living has worsened over the last 6 months compared to 10% who say that it has improved.
There’s also a growing sense of realism in the public sector relating to the risk of redundancy. The survey shows that a fifth of all employees (20%) believe it is likely they could lose their job, but in the public sector this figure rises to 31%, up from 25% last quarter.
General Reports and Other Publications
IFS: The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Green Budget forecast is that the Government will need to borrow slightly less in 2010-11 (£2.9bn) than the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts. Having set out his fiscal consolidation plan, the IFS considers that it is important that Chancellor George Osborne resist the temptation to engage in any significant net giveaway in the Budget.
Ofsted: The wider schools workforce, including teaching assistants & learning mentors, is making a difference to pupils’ learning, according to a report (Workforce reform in schools: has it made a difference?) published recently by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. However, the report also shows that these staff must be effectively deployed, well managed and properly trained.
Demos: Just 7% of 16-24 year olds feel that Government makes decisions with their age group (11-20 years old) in mind according to a new report published by the independent think tank Demos. They feel their age group will bear the brunt of the spending cuts, with 32% of 18-21 year olds thinking that 16-24 year olds would be the age group worst affected by the spending review and 28% thinking those slightly older aged 25-34 would have to feel the biggest impact.
Despite this, young people think OAPs should be protected from Government spending cuts and favour cuts to education rather than health (43% compared to 28%), showing long-term thinking and prioritising the needs of older people before their own.
NLGN: A new report is calling on councils to be given new powers to charge for local services. The report, from the New Local Government Network think tank, follows Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s demands for new freedoms for local government to raise money from a wide range of new charges.
The Communities in Charge report calls for councils to be freed from Whitehall restrictions to introduce charges for services such as parking, planning & licensing, to vary charges based on usage and to means-test on users’ ability to pay.
IFS: As the governor of the Bank of England predicts stagnant real earnings for some time to come, households will be hit by a further average £200 a year loss from tax increases & benefit cuts due in April 2011. In addition there will be big changes in marginal tax rates for some. Around 750,000 more people will become higher rate taxpayers as a result of a reduction in the level of income at which the higher rate starts to bite. This reduction accompanies the increase of £1,000 in the tax allowance which itself will take 500,000 other people out of tax altogether.
Newswire - CPA: The Committee of Public Accounts has published a report on Ministry of Justice financial management. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “If the Ministry of Justice is to minimise the impact on its frontline services of its tough spending settlement, it must fully understand the cost and value of those services. But the Ministry and its arm’s length bodies currently lack that detailed information. “It is simply not acceptable that, after two years’ work, the Ministry still does not fully understand the cost of its staff activities in its largest executive agency.
“This is indicative of the poor state of financial management in this ministry. So is the fact that it was the only government department to miss the deadline for producing its accounts for 2009-10”.
Newswire - PAC: The Public Administration Select Committee has rejected the Government’s response to its report on UK National Strategy and describes it as ‘disappointing’. The Report calls on the Government to think again about how it approaches strategy-making and restates the need to create a ‘community of strategists’ from across Whitehall (and beyond) to provide the Government with the capacity to make National Strategy.
Newswire – C&LGC: Some of the proposals to curb the publication of 'propaganda on the rates' by local authorities run counter to 'localist' principles and have potentially negative implications for local democracy says the Communities and Local Government Committee in the report of its inquiry into a draft Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.
TWF: A focus on job entry alone is not enough for the Coalition to meet its targets for benefits savings & poverty reduction, according to a new report from The Work Foundation. The report argues the government must look beyond worklessness to expand opportunities for around 10m workers already struggling on less than £15,000 a year.
Welfare to What? Prospects and challenges for employment recovery is the first report from The Work Foundation’s Bottom Ten Million 2-year programme, which examines in-work poverty as both a serious social injustice and a major hindrance to the UK’s economic performance.
NAO: The BBC Trust has published an independent report commissioned from the National Audit Office on the BBC’s management of its Digital Media Initiative (DMI). The DMI is a technology transformation project designed to allow BBC staff to develop, create, share and manage video & audio content and programming on their desktop, and intended to improve production efficiency across the BBC. The estimated gross cost of delivery & implementation to the end of March 2017 is £133.6m.
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities has produced a short note explaining the importance of broadband to rural communities and the benefits it brings to businesses, public service delivery and community cohesion.
NAO: NHS hospitals often pay more than they need to when buying basic supplies, the National Audit Office has reported. A combination of inadequate information & fragmented purchasing means that NHS hospitals’ procurement of consumables is poor value for money. The NAO estimates that at least £500m a year could be saved by the NHS on its spending on consumables and potentially much more for some products.
Some trusts are not getting value for money because they are buying many different types of the same product. For example, trusts bought 21 different types of A4 paper, 652 types of medical gloves and 1,751 different cannulas. There is also a large variation between trusts: one bought 13 different types of glove, whilst another bought 177 different types.
OFT: The OFT has published its market study into the outdoor advertising industry which has found that the sector is broadly competitive amongst both specialist buyers & media agencies. The study also looked at potential barriers to entry & expansion for media owners.
In light of the investigation under the Competition Act and its other recommendations, the OFT has provisionally decided that a market investigation reference to the Competition Commission would not be appropriate at this time. It is now consulting on this conclusion and responses should be sent by 5pm on 18 March 2011.
Newswire – AC: A government scheme that incentivises general practitioners (GPs) to improve their services to patients may not be having the impact it should because of poor oversight of the payments being made, the Audit Commission has found.
Areas of weakness in other trusts fall into two areas: probity and value for money. Some cannot be confident that payments made to GP practices are correct & justified, or delivering good value. And some patients may not be getting the services they should be.
IISS: Mark Fitzpatrick (Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, London) says that 'Claims about Iranian strategic-weapons programmes should not be made lightly'. Claims that Iran has carried out activities in violation of its CWC & BWC obligations cannot be determined from the available public information and may have been exaggerated.
Newswire – EC: A curriculum which is poorly differentiated for children with different strengths will not hold children’s attention and will lead to misbehaviour, warns the Education Committee in a report published last week. The Committee recommends that the future curriculum should contain a mix of academic & vocational subjects in order to meet the needs of all pupils.
Newswire – IDC: MPs from the Commons International Development Committee examining the Department for International Development's (DFID) annual accounts have said that the Government’s commitment to channel more UK aid toward fragile & war-torn states will make it difficult to ensure that every £ is well spent and that less aid money is likely to reach some poor countries where it may be able to achieve more.
Newswire – WWF: All of the world’s energy needs could be provided cleanly, sustainably & economically by 2050, according to a major new study by WWF published last week. The Energy Report breaks new ground with its global scope and its consideration of total energy needs.
Newswire – CTC: The Commons Treasury Committee published its Report, 'Financial Regulation: a preliminary consideration of the Government’s proposals' last week. The Government proposes to do away with the tripartite system, in which the Treasury, Bank of England, and Financial Services Authority work together, replacing it with a ‘twin peaks’ structure, separating macro-prudential and conduct of business regulation. Last week’s Report is the Committee’s response to what has been set out so far with regard to those proposals.
Ofsted: A polarised picture of school geography teaching has emerged from an Ofsted report launched last week. While geography was flourishing in a minority of the schools visited by inspectors, it was found to be under pressure in the rest.
With climate change and other geographical issues such as population growth, sustainability and natural disasters increasingly making headline news, the report, ‘Geography - Learning to make a world of difference’, describes the value of the subject and what needs to be done to reverse its decline. It builds on ‘Geography in schools: changing practice’, published in 2008
Legislation / Legal
Newswire – NHSC: While the Health and Social Care Bill is top of the NHS Confederation agenda, the Government’s Localism Bill is also set to make an impact on the NHS, albeit in a more limited way. The Localism Bill, published in December 2010, will devolve greater powers to councils & neighbourhoods and give local communities more control over housing and planning decisions. A number of key elements of the Bill are relevant to the NHS (see press release).
DirectGov: Anyone hiding money offshore could face penalties of up to 200% under new penalties that come into force from 6 April 2011. The aim is to cut the hundreds of millions of pounds lost through offshore tax evasion, money which could be used to pay for essential government services.
DCMS: Following the recent Your Freedom exercise, certain sections of the Digital Economy Act will be reviewed by Ofcom to see if they are workable, the Government has announced. Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has asked Ofcom to assess whether the Act’s reserve powers to enable courts to block websites dedicated to copyright infringement could work. Questions of proportionality & compliance with European commercial law and the Human Rights Act are subject to an ongoing judicial review and will not form part of Ofcom’s review.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
BIS: Consumers should take advantage of new rights aimed at protecting them and encouraging lenders to act more responsibly, Consumer Minister Edward Davey said as the EU Consumer Credit Directive came into force last week. The amendments to the Consumer Credit Act will strengthen both consumer rights and lenders’ duties towards their customers.
EU News: More than 6m young people in the EU leave education & training with lower secondary level qualifications at best. They face severe difficulties in finding work, are more often unemployed and more often dependent on welfare benefits.
The Commission has approved an action plan that will help Member States to achieve the Europe 2020 headline target of reducing the EU average rate of early school leavers to under 10%, from the current level of 14.4%, by 2020. The accompanying proposal for a Council Recommendation contains guidelines to help Member States develop comprehensive & evidence-based policies to reduce early school leaving.
EU News: The EU Parliament wants tighter rules for the EU's growing output of waste electronic & electrical equipment (WEEE), while cutting red tape for companies. In a plenary vote last Thursday, MEPs proposed new targets for collecting, recycling and re-using waste. They also recommended tougher measures to prevent the export of e-waste to developing countries, where it can pose a health and environment hazard.
As well as yielding health & environmental benefits, proper treatment of e-waste can help reclaim valuable raw materials. MEPs recommend a 50-75% recycling target (depending on category) and support a new 5% re-use goal.
EU News: A new Guide aims at clarifying the European rules applicable to the organisation & financing of services of general interest. This Guide thus helps public authorities, especially at local level, to provide high quality & efficient services in line with the EU rules. The Commission has also published another guide to help public authorities to buy goods & services in a socially responsible way in line with EU rules – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
EU News: Last week, on the eve of World Cancer Day, in an effort to improve the screening & diagnosis of colorectal cancer, the European Commission published the first edition of the European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Colorectal Cancer Screening and Diagnosis.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common newly diagnosed cancer in the EU. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in the EU, accounting for 1 in 7 new cancers and 1 in 8 cancer deaths. Improving diagnosis & screening is key to reduce the mortality rates from colorectal cancer.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DUK: Research funded by Diabetes UK has successfully demonstrated the potential of an artificial pancreas in pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes. It is hoped the development could drastically reduce cases of stillbirth & mortality rates among pregnant women with the condition. (See press release for details)
BHF: The British Heart Foundation are working with UK towns & cities to get communities heart healthy. Heart Towns & Heart Cities benefit from their wide range of resources and education programmes. They will also be hosting all kinds of events & activities over the year (such as a Heart Town ride, walk or run to unite the community for one day and fundraise for the BHF Mending Broken Hearts Appeal). You can search their map to find out what's happening in your area.
BHF: The British Heart Foundation are launching a new series of bike rides that will ‘take you from city to sea’. Each one promises to follow in the footsteps of our legendary London to Brighton event, and help raise vital funds for the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal. BHF need to spend £50m to fund the groundbreaking research that could help them begin to literally 'mend broken hearts' in as little as 10 years' time, and give hope to millions.
DUK: Over 70,000 people have now taken part in the Diabetes UK online Diabetes Risk Score to see if they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. However it is estimated there are still 850,000 people who have Type 2 diabetes and but don’t know it, so Diabetes UK is urging more people to take part to see if they are at risk of developing the condition.
CRUK: The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer has risen from one woman in nine to one in eight – according to Cancer Research UK. The biggest rise in rates was among women aged between 50 and 69 where cases increased by more than 6% in the same 10 year period.
Business and Other Briefings
ScotGov: The new Scottish Loan Fund (SLF), worth £55m, is now open to applications for loans from eligible businesses across Scotland. The fund will provide loans of between £250k & £5m and will target those companies which demonstrate growth or the intention to grow and exporting firms, as they have the most to contribute to Scotland's economic growth.
An additional £5m in public sector investment has been secured for the Highlands & Islands, further strengthening the fund's availability to eligible firms across all of Scotland. Further work is ongoing with the potential to bring in further considerable private sector investment to boost the SLF even further.
MoD: Defence Estates (DE) has announced that future suppliers to the military estate will benefit from measures to ensure that all businesses are paid punctually, irrespective of size or specialisation. DE will introduce Project Bank Accounts to allow direct payment to supply chain members, sub-contractors and main contractors, under future commercial arrangements on its estate, including those being developed across the UK under its' Next Generation Estate Contracts (NGEC) programme.
This Brief gives details on a change to how CCL (Climate Change Levy) will be charged on natural gas in Northern Ireland.
BS: As the government looks to all organisations to do more with less, the Efficiency and Reform Group has made it clear that aggregation is a key enabler of savings in the procurement of common goods & services. The Government Procurement Card (GPC) helps organisations to achieve process efficiencies and greater transparency of spend, so if you are not already using GPC, Buying Solutions would encourage you to consider doing so in order to deliver significant savings for your organisation.
The first aggregated procurement for GPC is now well underway involving a number of organisations from across the public sector, and we’d like to invite you to consider taking part in the second phase which we plan will be awarded in June 2011. If you are interested, please respond by 11 February 2011 by email to:
BS: Price reductions on Project Management and Full Design Team Services and Technical Assurance Services framework agreements. Buying Solutions’ Property Solutions team have negotiated price reductions with the majority of suppliers on the above framework agreements. Revised fee schedules are now available on the website (customers must be logged in to view these rates).
HSE: Health & safety consultants are being invited to sign up to a new independent register from 31 January 2011 that is intended to become a new benchmark for standards in the profession. The Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR) is being set up in response to recommendations in the Government-commissioned report on the UK health & safety system − Common Sense Common Safety.
OSHCR has been established by a number of professional bodies representing general safety & occupational health consultants across the UK, with support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The register (which is voluntary) is open to individuals who provide commercial advice on general health & safety management issues and who meets certain standards (see press release). The application fee will be £60, but applications received by 30 April 2011 will be subject to a discounted fee of £30.
The fee, which is non-refundable, covers the cost of processing the application and is payable annually on renewal of registration. Individuals who apply to join the register during the discounted period will be given a registration renewal date of 30 April 2012.
LDA: The London Development Agency is planning to market the Royal Docks at the international property fair MIPIM in March 2011 as the biggest development opportunity in London. The LDA's promotion of the Royal Docks will be supported by two new reports. The 'Parameters for Development' and 'Spatial Framework' will add details to the 'Vision for the Royal Docks', which was published in July 2010 by the LDA and London Borough of Newham.
EA: The Environment Agency recently unveiled plans for tailored flood warning services to be developed to better prepare utility providers, emergency services, insurers, retail & transport companies for flooding. From now on, organisations are able obtain licences to use live EA flood warning data to develop specialised flood warning products & services.
The EA hopes that these will help operators take more effective action to protect crucial assets from potential flooding and maintain essential services. The EA recently announced that developers are already using its live flood warning data to develop a huge range of products, including smart phone applications for the public. For further information or to register interest in accessing the data, contact EA Commercial Services or call 08708 506 506.
MoD: The MOD has announced that it will develop 6 regional capital works frameworks for construction projects valued below £12m and one national framework for higher value projects, more complex projects and cross-region programmes up to a value of £50m, under its Next Generation Estate Contracts (NGEC) programme. Industry is now invited to submit expressions of interest, marking the start of the procurement process for these new commercial arrangements.
DWP: The Government is teaming up with the British Chambers of Commerce to launch the first of 6 new Enterprise Clubs in Merseyside, Employment Minister, Chris Grayling announced last week. The aim is to encourage business groups around the country to form similar clubs where unemployed people setting up new small businesses can access professional advice & guidance that they might not otherwise be able to afford, and also to share experience and build stronger local networks among new businesses.
ScotGov: Scotland's Skills Minister, Angela Constance, visited fictional soap town Shieldinch on the RiverCity set last week to launch a new TV production skills project to further boost the £5.2bn creative industries sector. Skills Development Scotland (SDS), BBC Scotland, media and entertainment trade union BECTU and Skillset have come together to support budding TV producers to receive the skills & experience needed to succeed in Scotland's creative industry.
The 2-year partnership project will inject more than £500,000 into the industry - which currently employs more than 60,000 people - and will provide Scots producers with the opportunity to build on their existing knowledge and gain crucial additional skills & experience to help them become industry leaders of the future.
LSIS: Community Development roadshows - Spring 2011 - Want to hear about what’s going on in Community Development? Then the Community Development roadshows are the place to hear about a number of projects & pilots funded through the Learning and Skills Improvement Services’s Community Development fund. If your organisation would like to attend or contribute to the roadshows, contact: Martin Steinmuller at firstname.lastname@example.org or Teresa Carroll at: email@example.com.
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.