In the News
IPP&CR: Basic pay - Army private £17,014 rising to £26,404 – Police officer: £23,259 rising to £36,509, which is set at right level? - The first results of a review of police pay & conditions designed to improve service for the public & maximise value for money have been published by the Independent Police Pay and Conditions Review. The independent study is intended to ‘help bring modern management practices into policing and increase operational flexibility for the country's 43 territorial forces’.
The review found that police officers are comparatively well paid, 10-15% higher than some other emergency workers & the armed forces, as well as up to 60% higher than the average local earnings in regions such as Wales & the North East.
In the short term, Tom Winsor recommends that a power to make officers compulsorily redundant is not necessary. This makes police officers unique in the public sector and this protection comes at a price, namely:
* suspension of all chief officer & superintendent bonuses
* abolition of the £1,212 Competence-Related Threshold Payment (CRTP)
* abolition of the discredited Special Priority Payments (SPP), of up to £5,000
* freezing progression up the pay scale for two years for all officers & staff
* savings of up to £60m in the annual overtime budget
The projected savings & costs arising from this review suggest that, if implemented from September 2011, these recommendations will produce net savings of £485m over 3 years.
PSPC: Will this be ‘it’, or will they continue to ‘move the goalpost’ every couple of years? - Lord Hutton of Furness has set out his proposals for comprehensive, long-term structural reform of public service pension schemes. The final report of the Independent Public Services Pension Commission follows a comprehensive 9-month review.
It ‘sets out a number of detailed recommendations to the Government on how public service pensions can be made sustainable & affordable in the future, while providing an adequate level of retirement income’. The average pension paid to pensioner members is around £7,800p.a. – Around half of pensioners receive less than £5,600p.a.
The main recommendation of the report is that existing final salary public service pension schemes should be replaced by new schemes, where an employee's pension entitlement is still linked to their salary (a ‘defined benefit scheme’), but is related to their career average earnings, with appropriate adjustments in earlier years so that benefits maintain their value.
The report suggests that it should be possible to introduce these new schemes before the end of this Parliament, in 2015, while allowing a longer transition, if needed, for groups such as the armed forces & police. Other key recommendations in the report include:
* Linking Normal Pension Age (NPA) in most public service pension schemes to the State Pension Age
* Introducing a Normal Pension Age of 60 for those members of the uniformed services
* Setting a clear cost ceiling for public service pension
* Honouring, in full, the accrued rights already earned by scheme members
HO: Unacceptable behaviour by any measure - Plans to tackle violence against women & girls were launched by the Home Secretary last week. The 'Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls - Action Plan' was published alongside the ‘government's response to Baroness Stern's review into the handling of rape complaints’.
The action plan focuses on 4 key areas:
* the prevention of violence including reducing repeat victimisation
* the provision of support
* the bringing together of groups to work in partnership
* action to reduce risk by ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice
Baroness Stern said: "I welcome the government's response to the recommendations in my report. Particularly in a time of financial stringency it is good that the government recognises the importance of a specialist and supportive response to rape victims."
WAG: What does the Yes vote mean for Wales? - The vote on Friday 4 March 2011 means that the National Assembly will be able to make laws on subjects in all of the 20 areas for which it has powers, without first needing the UK Parliament's agreement to giving the Assembly the necessary powers. The Assembly will now be able to table its own Bills and vote to pass its own Acts.
CLG: Many legal requirements funded by central government’s best guess ‘average’ budgets - Councils are being asked for the bureaucratic burdens they wish to throw away in the first ever central review of their statutory duties. To date no Government has ever assessed the cumulative burden imposed by the hundreds of legal duties placed on local government.
The Review is intended to proactively identify unnecessary burdens & barriers preventing councils from getting on with their job. The Department of Communities and Local Government has published an initial list of more than 1,200 legal duties imposed mainly by primary legislation. The Localism Bill, currently going through Parliament, is already set to remove some of these duties.
For the time being, the review excludes duties stemming from Parts 1 & 2 of the Building Act 1984 as CLG are in the process of undertaking a separate review of these. There are also other reviews underway that are likely to impact on this work such as the Law Commission's review of adult social care.
STFC: Put your bid in now - The Science and Technology Facilities Council has announced a call for applications to the Projects Research & Development scheme (PRD). The applications should be submitted by 3 May 2011 and will be reviewed at a meeting of the PPRP Panel on 6/7 July 2011. STFC intends to allocate a total of around £1.5m, a large proportion of which will be for spend in the financial year 2011/12.
DH: We need solutions to help mitigate increasing demand for health services - Up to £775m is to be made available for translational research (research that is dedicated to deliver benefits to NHS patients) to help secure the UK as a world leader in life sciences. It will be made available over the next 5 years to NHS/university partnerships through the National Institute for Health Research.
Applications are encouraged to focus on improving health outcomes for patients in high priority disease areas such as dementia, cancer & heart disease. Further information about the call for proposals: Click HERE.
Forthcoming Event: Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Creative Destruction: Radically Redefining IT | 4-6 April 2011 | London - This event is designed exclusively for CIOs by CIOs. Join forces with our executive analyst team, peer CIOs and high-profile industry achievers for collaborative dialog, debate and problem solving. You’ll see first-hand how others are resolving ground-breaking IT issues. And you’ll take away powerful new strategies that will position you as a leader in an IT environment where the pace of change is accelerating even faster. The forum will ask key questions including: * How do you meet high corporate expectations while adhering to lean budgets and limited resources? * How do you balance the drive for enterprise innovation with the need for efficiency and cost control?
Click here for the full agenda and more details.
MoD: As soldiers aren't the only ones who can be injured on operations, the UK has its very own military hospital dedicated to nursing canine casualties back to health. The Defence Animal Centre in Leicestershire has 5 vets who treat dogs who have been injured whilst on operations, whether they are suffering from blast injuries or have been shot.
MoD: Details of some of the events planned for this year's Armed Forces Day, which will take place on Saturday 25 June 2011, are now available on the event's website. The aim of AFD, which is now in its third year, is to boost public support & appreciation of all those who serve and have served in HM’s Armed Forces.
The city of Edinburgh has been chosen to host the 2011 national event and, as with previous years, this will be complemented by a variety of community-led events in towns & cities across the UK. Details of events planned in Edinburgh & elsewhere, as well as how you can show your support, are available on the AFD website.
FDA: ARC has welcomed MPs across the House voicing grave concerns about the cuts being imposed on HM Revenue & Customs during an Estimates Day debate in Parliament on 2 March. ARC (the Association of Revenue & Customs) is the union representing senior HMRC staff and is also a part of the FDA.
ScotGov: Transport Scotland's operating companies will carry out a blitz on potholes following the allocation of an extra £2m to tackle this problem. The £2m will be split between the 4 operating companies on the basis of need, condition and length of networks. Additional works will commence immediately.
WAG: Children & young people who took part in the first all-Wales weight management programme are exercising more, eating healthier and spending less time watching TV & playing computer games, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales has announced. Dr. Tony Jewell said that more than 2,000 children & parents in Wales have benefited from the WAG-funded MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition... Do It!) Programme.
ScotGov: This year, for the first time, the huge contribution of Scots & Scotland to the founding of North America will be celebrated across the whole of Canada & the USA on Tartan Day, 6 April 2011. The decision by the Federal Government of Canada to officially recognise Tartan Day will add fresh momentum to Scotland Week 2011.
From April 3, 2011, Scotland's Minister for Enterprise, Energy & Tourism, Jim Mather, and representatives of Scottish Development International and VisitScotland will carry out an intensive Scotland Week programme of business meetings and other engagements to build on existing links and promote Scotland as an internationally competitive & innovative business location.
MO: This winter wasn't as cold as last year, despite the exceptionally cold December, provisional figures show. The mean UK temperature was 2.4 °C, compared to 1.6 °C last winter. A 'normal' winter average temperature would be 3.7 °C. Through the course of the winter, we went from the coldest December on record to the ninth warmest February on record.
Newswire – PA: Research conducted by the Patients Association has discovered a worrying drop in the number of elective surgical procedures conducted in 2010, coupled with an increase in waiting times for many patients.
MoD: Veterans with mental health problems will get targeted support from this week with the launch of the Combat Stress Support Helpline, delivered by Rethink Mental Illness. The 24-hour freephone helpline number, 0800 138 1619, will help veterans and their families access expert advice from people trained & experienced in dealing with ex-servicemen & women and their often complex mental health needs.
The Government is giving £200,000 to fund the running of a 1-year pilot of the helpline which will use a combination of permanent & volunteer staff to man the phones 24-hours-a-dawith significant support from Combat Stress.
Alongside the helpline, the Department of Health is also working with the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop training tools for GPs to better recognise the needs of veterans and provide the best support.
ScotGov: A new body - the National Records of Scotland - will start work on 1 April 2011. The date will mark the official merger of the General Register Office for Scotland and the National Archives of Scotland, as part of the Scottish Government's programme to simplify & streamline public bodies.
HSE: Nearly 1 in 4 construction sites in Newcastle were so dangerous that workers lives were being put at risk according to inspectors who visited them during February 2011. In an initiative aimed at reducing deaths & injuries in one of Britain's most dangerous industries, inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive visited 37 sites. 9 of these were found to be so far below required standards that inspectors had to issue formal enforcement notices. They were targeting refurbishment projects − the worst performing sector of the construction industry.
FSA: Waitrose has recalled one date code of its fresh vanilla custard because it might be contaminated with pieces of green rubber. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Withdrawal Information Notice.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has announced a further round of grant funding for local authorities in England & Northern Ireland adopting the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. The scheme helps consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, cafés, takeaways, hotels and food shops.
FSA: Morrisons has recalled its salt & vinegar rice cakes because they might be contaminated with milk, which is not mentioned on the label. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
Newswire – HPA: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Health Protection Scotland are currently unaware of any cases of infection associated with the use of fish spas pedicures in the UK. The HPA deems the risk of catching an infection from a Garra rufa fish foot spa to be very small.
However, the HPA, HPS and the Health & Safety Laboratory are currently examining the most up to date evidence and will publish practical advice to help both salons & the public to minimise any risk in due course.
TfL: Teen road safety is back in the spotlight in London this month as Transport for London's campaign to keep young people safe returns for the 11th year running with new support from young TV stars. 'Don't Let Your Friendship Die on The Road' will run for the next 4 weeks with posters being put up across the city, alongside online video support from TfL's Road Safety Ambassadors (RSAs) reminding teenagers of the key messages to 'look out for their mates' while they are out & about.
MoD; The Royal Navy officially opened a new rehabilitation centre at HM Naval Base Devonport last week for Armed Forces personnel recovering from long-term injuries & illnesses. The recovery unit will provide accommodation and support current services at Devonport such as physical, medical & psychological rehabilitation for personnel from all 3 Services with links to the South West - all within a familiar military environment.
The accommodation at the new centre, which has space for 12 people, is adapted for those with limited mobility. It will be used until a new 72 bed specialist recovery unit, funded by the charity Help for Heroes (H4H) and run & staffed by the Royal Navy, is completed in 2012 to meet increased demand for rehabilitation.
The recovery unit will be a centre of excellence which it is expected will also be used by outside agencies. An interim primary care rehabilitation facility is also being provided until the new one is built.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: A new programme to widen access to Further Mathematics at GCE AS/A2 Levels in Wales has been supported by Education, Minister Leighton Andrews. Students completing Further Maths at AS & A Levels are seen as better prepared for mathematics-related courses in higher education and generally more able mathematicians thanks to Further Maths. The programme is being delivered by the Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (WIMCS), based at Swansea University.
WAG: Environment & Sustainability Minister, Jane Davidson, has launched a Supporting Sustainable Living Grant Scheme to ‘provide funds & advice for projects to help people move to a more sustainable & lower carbon lifestyle’. Grants of up to £15,000 are available to organisations from all sectors and can fund up to 50% of a project’s costs. The scheme aims to bring about long-term changes in lifestyles that will help reduce Wales’ greenhouse gas emissions and tackle the impact of climate change.
DECC: A cross-Government action plan on climate change backed by the PM & Deputy PM was launched last week setting strict actions & deadlines for Whitehall. The new Carbon Plan sets out what has to happen & by when if the Government is to live up to its green ambitions, meet tough domestic carbon targets and encourage greater action internationally.
The Carbon Plan is published in draft with the Government inviting the public & organisations to give their views on the contents. A final version will be published in the Autumn and then updated annually.
ScotGov: National voluntary organisations are being invited to bid for a share of a new £6.8m fund, designed to help improve children's lives. The Early Years Early Action Fund will be open to national voluntary organisations to enable them to:
* Improve early years services covering parenting, play, childcare, child and maternal health & family support
* Provide earlier support for families to prevent problems escalating into costly, difficult crisis situations, as well as supporting health improvement and helping looked after children
DH: The Government has published Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England which sets out how tobacco control will be delivered over the next 5 years. Local communities will take a leading role in reducing smoking rates. The plan confirms action to end eye catching tobacco displays in shops which encourage young people to start smoking.
ScotGov: Proposals to establish the Scottish Digital Network (SDN) to deliver local television services in Scotland have been put forward by the ScotGov. A formal expression of interest has been submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in response to its Local Media Action Plan consultation.
ScotGov: Access to high speed broadband is vital to unlocking the next stage of Scotland's economic development, Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead told delegates at a specially convened rural broadband summit last week. It followed the launch recently of the Scottish Government's Digital Strategy and marks the publication of Our Rural Future - the Scottish Government's response to the recent 'Speak Up for Rural Scotland' consultation - which identifies the provision of broadband in rural areas as a major priority.
DFID: Young adults from across the country and from all walks of life will be given the chance to make a real difference in the poorest parts of the world – by volunteering overseas. PM David Cameron and Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, have officially opened International Citizen Service (ICS) for applications.
The scheme will enable 18 to 22 year-olds to work as volunteers for 10 - 12 weeks in a developing country on projects to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. The scheme aims to contribute to helping reduce poverty overseas as well as to broaden the horizons of the young volunteers and develop skills such as team working & communications.
CO: The Government has opened the application process for organisations that want to help run the second set of National Citizen Service pilots in summer 2012. NCS is a flagship policy at the heart of the coalition Government’s vision for building a Big Society. It will bring together 16 year olds from different backgrounds in a summer programme of challenge, service & learning, enabling them to develop the confidence, skills & attitudes they need to become more engaged with their communities and to become active & responsible citizens.
Defra: Funding to support hill farmers and help some of England’s rural communities to thrive was unveiled last week by Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman. A new Rural Community Broadband Fund expected to be worth up to £20m will be set up to help end the digital & social divide suffered by rural areas and up to £6m a year more will be available to hill farmers for environmental stewardship schemes.
DECC: The world’s first financial incentive of its kind to revolutionise the way heat is generated & used in buildings has been launched by Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will support emerging technologies & businesses in the UK, strengthening security of supply by reducing dependence on fossil fuel heating and emissions.
Currently around half of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the energy used to produce heat – more than from generating electricity. The new financial incentive will encourage installation of equipment like renewable heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal panels to reduce emissions & support the existing 150,000 jobs in the heating industry.
DfE: An independent review of the key skills that teachers need to improve students' performance was launched last week. Every new teacher must meet a series of standards to stay in the classroom - but the current standards aren't rigorous, clear or effective enough.
Instead of focussing on the essential skills of great teaching, the current standards are a vague list of woolly aspirations. For example, an experienced teacher must ‘contribute significantly, where appropriate, to implementing workplace policies and practice and to promoting collective responsibility for their implementation’.
ScotGov: A new national training & support service - to provide better help & guidance to Scotland's estimated 20,000 kinship carers - was launched last week. Kinship carers are friends or relatives who look after a child because they cannot be looked after by their parents. Children 1st will be given around £75,000 in 20010-11 and around £245,000 for each of the next 3 financial years to run the new service.
DfE: Children’s Minister Sarah Teather has unveiled proposals for the reform of the education & health support for children with special educational needs (SEN) & disabilities. Ofsted and others suggest that too many children are being over-identified as SEN, which prevents them from achieving their potential because teachers have lower expectations of them. The consultation closes on 30 June 2011.
DCMS: Plans for temporary restrictions to advertising and trading in open spaces directly around the competition venues during the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been published for consultation (closes on 13 May 2011). Advertisers & traders are being asked for their views on the temporary measures. It is a requirement of the International Olympic Committee host city contract that measures are in place to prevent ambush marketing and unauthorised trading at Games time.
OFT: The OFT has launched a consultation (closes on 11 June 2011) on its updated Debt Collection Guidance, which sets out specific business practices that the OFT considers to be unfair, such as creditors failing to update records or credit reference agency data, where it has been established that an individual is not the debtor, or the debt has already been paid.
Socitm: Socitm is inviting stakeholders from across the public, private and civil society sectors to collaborate in the development of the Routemap for Local Public Services reform - enabled by ICT. Public consultation on the draft runs until Monday 4 April 2011, while the Routemap itself will be launched at the Socitm Spring conference on 11 May 2011.
The Routemap aims to translate relevant strands of Government ICT strategy into practical actions by local CIOs to support public service reform and re-design in their areas. It will provide a practical, 'pan-local' approach to ICT-enabled public service reform that will cover local authorities, health services, blue light services, transport authorities, housing associations, educational institutions, civil society organisations and local arms of central government delivery organisations.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Directgov: A series of online resources have been published on Directgov to help individuals and communities plan & prepare for emergency situations, such as flooding. The new help forms part of the Community Resilience Programme, which aims to help individuals & communities prepare for (& recover from) emergencies more quickly.
EA: Specially-designed traps baited with cat food & fish food will be used to help scientists investigate the extent of invasive ‘killer’ shrimp populations across England & Wales. Over 100 traps, that have been proved effective in Environment Agency trials, will be deployed at ‘high priority’ sites, which offer the perfect habitat, such as boulders just below water, are used for water sports and recreation, or are important conservation areas, to check if the shrimp is present.
HL: On 1 May 2004 the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - the A8 accession countries - joined the EU. On 1 May 2011 the transitional arrangements that were put into place 7 years ago come to an end.
Homeless Link has published a briefing note to clarify what this means for local authorities and their partners in working with A8 nationals who are rough sleeping. It should be read as part of the good practice note, Developing a Strategic Response and Offer for Central and Eastern European Rough Sleepers. Local authorities should ensure that the offer of reconnection is made to rough sleepers from EEA countries to enable a return to their home country.
There is no automatic entitlement to welfare benefits once the transitional arrangements end for A8 nationals. Each case is determined on an individual basis. Homeless Link has also produced a briefing note outlining eligibility for Job Centre Plus Services after 1 May 2011 for A8 Nationals.
Newswire – TUC: To coincide with International Women's Day last week, the TUC published new guidance on how employers & union reps can work together to support women through the menopause at work. The menopause is an important occupational health issue for the 3.5m women over the age of 50 currently in work.
Ofsted: Ofsted is launching a website area showcasing good practice across the sectors that Ofsted inspects & regulates. The site will have examples from schools, adult learning & skills, and children & families services across the country. Examples from early years & childcare will be included from September 2011.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is reminding parents of Government advice to exclusively feed babies breast milk for around 6 months and not to introduce solid food until after this time. This is following an in-depth review by experts who looked at the best time to introduce gluten, a protein found in cereals such as wheat, rye & barley, into infants’ diets.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK have published a factsheet on Gender Reassignment. The Equality Act 2010 has made it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the grounds that they have undergone, are undergoing, or intend to undergo gender reassignment.
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK have announced that the new Libraries, Archives, Records and Information Management Services (LARIMS) National Occupational Standards (NOS) have been approved by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
The new suite of NOS replaces 2 older suites which were produced for this part of the lifelong learning sector (one suite was aimed at managers & practitioners and a second was applicable to staff in operational roles).
LSIS: February 2011 saw the transfer of 4 of the key products from Becta’s learning & skills portfolio, to Learning and Skills Improvement Services.
LLUK: The new ‘Client Entitlement Statement’ for adult career service users has been published on the Lifelong Learning UK website. The statement clearly explains the level of service that all users of adult information, advice & guidance services should receive. It has been designed to promote good practice and client-focused service within the adult career guidance sector.
QCDA: The 2011 Keeping test materials secure factsheet is now available on the QCDA website.
DECC: The UK will make a contribution of £4m to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund for 2011-13. This will support work to enhance global nuclear security. Alongside this, the UK published the Global Threat Reduction Programme annual report for 2010, which sets out progress on reducing the threat of proliferation of dangerous nuclear, radiological, biological & chemical materials and expertise.
General Reports and Other Publications
CLG: Resilient small seaside resorts can seize the opportunity presented by local enterprise partnerships to transform economic growth along our coast. A new report by Sheffield Hallam University paints a ‘compelling picture of economic & social challenges, enterprise and resilience over the last decade’.
IfG: Current scrutiny arrangements over the appointment & dismissal of top public appointments put too much power in the hands of ministers, according to the independent think tank Institute for Government. The Institute names 25 top positions that parliament should have powers over – one is the post of BBC Chairman.
Last week Chris Patten appeared before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee for a 'pre-appointment hearing', to be questioned on his suitability for the post. He was nominated for the post by Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, but the committee has no powers to block the appointment; it can only request that the government think again.
TKF: Using midwives & other maternity staff more effectively is the key to improving maternity care in hospitals, according to a new report, Staffing in maternity units: getting the right people in the right place at the right time, from The King’s Fund. Despite the fierce debate over midwife numbers, increasing staffing levels will not be easy in the current financial climate. Evidence shows that the maternity workforce could be utilised more effectively to improve outcomes for mothers & babies.
Newswire - PA: The Patients Association has published a report on ‘Postnatal Depression Services’. Postnatal depression (PND) effects 10 to 15% of new mothers and in rare (but extreme cases) can result in maternal suicide.
In this report, the Patients Association found that the vast majority of PCTs do not know the number of mothers suffering from PND in their area and are failing to provide information on PND to new mothers. In addition, the majority of PCTs do not have a strategy in place for commissioning PND services and do not know the number of Serious Untoward Incidents – such as maternal suicides – that are related to PND in their region.
DWP: A new report presents findings from a new analysis of the Labour Force Survey (LFS), supplemented by a review of published studies into the job search practices of different groups. Focussing on claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance and their use of the internet, the report brings together a wide range of information relevant to policies which promote effective job search.
Socitm: The Coalition Government's transparency agenda, which by early February had seen all but 8 English councils post spending above £500 online, could well change the shape of local public services, with communities able to monitor, comment upon, challenge, and ultimately even take over local authority services in their area.
This is the conclusion of Transparency: seeing it through, the latest monthly briefing from Socitm Insight, the research arm of the local public services IT & information professionals' association.
BHF: A research study co-funded by the British Heart Foundation has found a link between diet during pregnancy and the health of offspring in later life. Environmental factors – things you can control, such as diet – can permanently influence the DNA of an unborn child. Therefore diet during pregnancy can have a lasting effect.
Newswire – LCC: The House of Lords Constitution Committee has reported that the government's draft ‘Cabinet Manual’ is open to misinterpretation. Announcing its findings, the Committee's Chairman, Baroness Jay of Paddington said: ‘The manual is of no great value to Ministers, though it has some relevance to the work of officials. For this reason, the Committee considers that it should be called the Cabinet Office Manual.’ The Cabinet Secretary has said that he expects to ask the Cabinet to endorse a revised version in Spring 2011.
HPA: For many years the Health Protection Agency’s radon team has been gathering & publishing data on indoor concentrations of the gas across the UK. A new report brings together thousands of measurements made by the Agency in England & Wales and presents summaries by postcode & by council area.
The work has allowed scientists to calculate that between 100,000 & 200,000 homes across England & Wales are above the radon Action Level; the threshold at which HPA recommends that radon should be reduced.
Newswire – HAC: In a brief report, the Home Affairs Committee highlights areas of concern in the supply of tasers to police forces in England & Wales, including the issue of having a monopoly distributor of tasers. This monopoly supplier had their authority revoked after one of the directors of the company gave an 'unauthorised' taser to police for use in the hunt for Raoul Moat.
HEFCE: Universities are facing a significant period of transition in the next few years, with reductions in public funding and a move to a new student finance & funding regime from 2012. However, they do so from a sound financial position, according to the Higher Education funding Council for England, which published a review of their finances last week.
Payback: The latest issue of Payback Times – the quarterly publication for the proceeds of crime community – has been published.
Newswire – NHSConfed: More than 140 leaders in the NHS & local authorities believe investing in mental well-being is more vital than ever, according to an NHS Confederation report. There is growing evidence to show the positive impact that improving mental well-being can have on health and social & economic outcomes, but little is known about how this important & emerging agenda is developing within localities.
The report, Public mental health and well-being – the local perspective, examines local leaders’ perceptions of public mental health & well-being, the progress they have made, how they are acting on recent evidence, and how addressing mental illness & improving mental well-being go hand in hand.
Newswire – TUC: As the annual TUC women's conference began in Eastbourne recently, the TUC warned that the government faces a potential crisis in female unemployment - and that its current economic strategy risks making the situation much worse.
During the past 12 months overall male unemployment has fallen by 31,000 (with the rate falling by 0.3 percentage points), while female unemployment has risen by 71,000 (with the rate increasing by 0.5 percentage points).
IISS: IISS Voices by Gary Li, Research Assistant & Project Coordinator, Defence & Military Analysis Programme comments on the Libyan rebels' weapons deficit. Image intelligence (IMINT) analysis of Libyan military bases can shed some light on the current situation and offer indicators as to what might follow.
IfG: ‘Enemies of enterprise’ and ‘liberating the hidden army of public service entrepreneurs’ are phrases that may send a shudder through the civil service. The first of the Institute for Government's new InsideOUT series - The Whitehall Entrepreneur: oxymoron or hidden army? - examines entrepreneurialism in Whitehall.
Newswire – CIPD: 69% of employers say they have no effective protection against employees making wholly unjustifiable claims to employment tribunals. This is a key finding from a survey of employers’ experiences of managing workplace conflict.
Newswire – PAC: The Commons Public Accounts Committee conclude that the cost of errors in the benefits system is considerable and hasn't improved for years in a report published last week. The Department's focus is entirely on its own losses due to fraud & error and not underpayments to poor people who depend on the benefits to which they’re entitled. There is no target for reducing underpayments but it is essential that the DWP does not neglect this problem.
MoD: Changes to the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme that will mean ‘significant’ increases to the awards paid to injured personnel have been published in a report by the Ministry of Defence. The changes, which will see an average 25% increase to awards paid for injuries due to service, will be introduced following the recommendations from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) Review.
The scheme pays a tax-free lump sum for injuries due to service, with the most seriously injured given a tax-free, index-linked Guaranteed Income Payment for life. This payment will be increased under the current changes to better reflect the lasting impact of injuries on future likely promotions and on the ability to work up to age 65.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Financial Reporting Council (FRC) have published a feedback statement summarising the responses to the joint discussion paper on enhancing the auditor’s contribution to prudential regulation. The FSA and the FRC received a wide range of constructive responses from accountancy firms, accountancy bodies, financial institutions and other stakeholders.
Demos: British workers are insufficiently protected by incapacity welfare finds a new report on the welfare system by the independent think tank Demos. Britain came just 8th in a new Index of Financial Protection compiled by the think tank - well below peer nations.
NAO: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has improved the maturity of its financial management in a number of areas, according to the National Audit Office. However, the spending watchdog has not been able to conclude that the Department is achieving value for money. The report also highlights the substantial challenge it faces in providing effective financial oversight of its arm’s-length bodies which differ in size, influence & risk.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI said last week that businesses must do more to give consumers the information they need to make informed choices about buying low-carbon products. Launching a new report, Buying into it – making the consumer case for low-carbon, CBI Director-General John Cridland said that ‘creating a mass market for low-carbon goods is crucial to meeting our ambitious climate change targets’.
Newswire: A study of specially trained paramedics at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust reveals they save lives and do so at lower cost than the alternatives. New critical care paramedics (CCPs) have been given extra training to deal with the most acute cases such as serious car crashes & stroke.
The study’s cost benefit analysis sets out the value of life saved using CCPs as just over £34,000 – more than £200,000 less than an equivalent doctor-led team. CCPs would also easily pass the NICE cost effectiveness standards for a new treatment. Join their online webinar on Thursday 17 March to discuss the findings & lessons from the CCP programme evaluation at SE Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
QCDA: The Evaluation of the Functional Skills Pilot Summative Report is now available.
ScotGov: Joint working between central & local government has achieved more for Scottish communities than ever before, Finance Secretary John Swinney told delegates at the recent COSLA conference. He said the local outcomes approach, embodied in Single Outcome Agreements between councils, their local partners and the Scottish Government, had made a positive impact across Scotland.
His comments at the conference came as the Scottish Government and COSLA jointly published 'Local Matters: Delivering the Local Outcomes Approach', which highlights good progress made to date.
CC: The Charity Commission has published a report on its inquiry into the charity People’s Opportunity to Work Trust (“POW Trust” – registered charity number 1073917). The charity’s objects are to assist in the rehabilitation of ex-offenders and to relieve poverty among people who have suffered a legal restriction on their liberty.
The Commission opened an Inquiry in November 2002 after it received a complaint alleging that large sums of the charity’s money were unaccounted for and that improper transactions between the charity and its connected trading companies had taken place.
Newswire – TC: Fraud is one of the main factors driving up the cost of motor insurance, says the Cross Party Transport Committee at the House of Commons. Wider access to justice should not provide a licence to make false personal injury claims under car insurance policies.
Newswire – EAC: The UK could lose out on hundreds of £bns of vital investment in green energy projects if the Government waters down its plans for a Green Investment Bank, MPs warn in a new report. The report argues that establishing a proper Investment Bank is crucial in order to lever in the unprecedented levels of private sector investment needed.
The MPs recognise the concerns about the Bank’s potential impact on the deficit and urge the Government to start talking immediately with the ONS about maximising the Bank’s impact on investment levels whilst minimising its impact on the deficit.
ScotGov: The Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee (SLARC) has published its report on the review of councillors' remuneration. The Government asked the Committee to consider the levels of all councillors' remuneration based on workload, roles & responsibilities and the changes in the delivery of council services, taking account of affordability and ensuring that the level of pay is not a barrier to encouraging a wider section of the community to serve as councillors.
NAO: More staff in higher grades & increasing pay have led to the total costs of central government staff growing by 10% in real terms in the 19 years to 2009-10, with current costs totalling £16.4bn. The growth in central government staff costs is largely the result of an unplanned increase in the number of staff in higher grades according to a National Audit Office report.
Newswire – PASC: The Government appoints too many ministers and should reduce their number by the middle of the Parliament, as it devolves real power & responsibility to local communities, the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) argues in a new report.
141 MPs are currently on the ‘payroll vote’ as ministers or their Parliamentary aides and are obliged to vote with the Government or resign their position. If this number remains static at the same time as MPs are cut, it will effectively increase the payroll vote – furthering strengthening the Executive at the expense of Parliament.
ScotGov: An atlas of Scotland's seas - with visual representation of its competing uses, productivity and health - has been compiled. The Marine Atlas will inform key planning decisions in Scottish waters while providing everyone with an accessible & detailed insight into the geography & vast richness of Scotland's seas.
This unique resource is being made freely available online so that anyone with an interest in the varied waters around Scotland's shores can find out more. In addition school packs have been developed, including two hard copies of the atlas for every secondary school, colourful posters and an accompanying DVD.
ASI: In a new report the Adam Smith Institute have calculated the negative effects of the top UK tax rate and called on the coalition government to scrap the 50p tax rate in this year’s budget. Keeping the 50p rate will have highly negative effects, leading to lost revenue of £350bn+, as well as flat economic growth.
ScotGov: Education Secretary Michael Russell has welcomed the publication of the reports of 17 Excellence Groups which highlight best practice in key subjects & areas. The reports, which include 15 subject reports and reports on excellence in health & wellbeing and on developing young people's skills, emphasise the importance of both subject knowledge & skills, such as creative thinking and problem solving.
Many of the reports set out essential learning in their subject area and also highlight the benefits of pupils & teachers making links across normal subject boundaries.
Legislation / Legal
Defra: Cattle born or reared in the UK before 1 August 1996 have had new movement restrictions placed on them as an extra precaution against meat from these older cattle entering the food chain, following a Government investigation into whether any illegal trade in these cattle has occurred. Defra has written to the 18,000 keepers with animals of this age to inform them of the new measures.
WAG: The National Health Service (Concerns, Complaints and Redress Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2011 have been debated & passed by the National Assembly for Wales. The Regulations will set out the common arrangements & duties that will apply to NHS organisations in Wales in respect of the investigation & handling of situations where something has gone wrong.
The regulations also introduce the concept of redress, drawing on powers set out in the NHS Redress (Wales) Measure 2008, the first Measure ever to be passed by the National Assembly. They are due to come into force on 1 April 2011.
ScotGov: A revised timetable for implementing the tobacco display ban in Scotland will be published following conclusion of an ongoing legal challenge. Public Health Minister, Shona Robison, has announced (following publication of the Department of Health's latest plans) that she expected Scotland's implementation dates to mirror the English position. Scotland's revised timescale will be confirmed following conclusion of Imperial Tobacco's legal challenge.
HO: Touts who attempt to sell tickets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be hit with fines of up to £20,000. The government intends to increase the penalty for 'touting' - selling tickets in public, or in the course of business, without permission - from £5,000 to £20,000. Tickets for the Olympics go on sale this week, with nearly 11m tickets ultimately available for the Games.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has taken an important step in preparing for the full inclusion of aviation in the EU's emissions trading system (EU ETS) from 1 January 2012. The EC has decided on the historical aviation emissions which will be used to calculate the number of aviation allowances to be available from 2012.
EU News: The EU should promote the introduction of a financial transaction tax, even if it is alone in doing so ‘as a first step’, says Parliament in a resolution on innovative financing voted in plenary on last week. A second resolution called for more EU tax-related assistance and clamp downs on tax evasion & tax fraud to boost revenue & efficiency in the developing countries.
The innovative financing resolution argues that the tools proposed can yield a ‘double dividend’ by not only generating more funds, but also making the financial sector safer and society greener.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a Roadmap for transforming the European Union into a competitive low carbon economy by 2050. It describes the cost-effective pathway to reach the EU's objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% of 1990 levels by 2050. The EU needs to start working now on long-term strategies, and the Roadmap provides guidance on how this transition can be achieved in the most cost-effective way.
DH: The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has been selected as the body that will set standards for the quality & safety of transplant organs across the EU, the Department of Health said last week. The HTA has been named as the competent organisation for England & Wales for the EU Organ Directive and will take the lead on developing a regulatory framework and implementation into legislation by August 2012.
EU News: 12 projects have been shortlisted for the European Enterprise Awards (EEA) 2011. A total of 399 projects competed in national competitions in 29 European countries (24 EU Member States and Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Serbia & Turkey) for the EEA this year.
A high-level jury representing business, government & academia reviewed 54 entries and established a shortlist of 12 nominees in 5 categories. The winners will be announced at the 5th award ceremony at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest on 24 May 2011, to which all nominees will be invited.
EU News: The European Commission has published its first Trade and Investment Barriers report which singles out important barriers in the markets of 5 strategic economic partners and proposes specific actions to remove the barriers.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Newswire – Unicef: UNICEF released the Humanitarian Action for Children Report (HAR) 2011 last week, requesting £872m in its annual appeal to donors to assist children & women caught in the throes of crises. This year’s appeal highlights 32 countries and emphasizes the increasing importance of strengthening the resilience of communities.
BIG: Last week the Big Lottery Fund announced an investment of £20m that will help give vulnerable young children across the UK a better future by supporting their families. The Improving Futures programme will provide funding for more effective & joined-up support to help families with multiple & complex problems.
This support will be delivered by up to 20 partnerships that bring together voluntary sector organisations and public services. The partnerships will be locally based – engaging not only children’s charities, but those that can help address families’ housing, health, employment and other needs. BIG will also fund an evaluation of the programme, with a view to understanding how successful partnerships can be replicated elsewhere.
DUK: Research into anew insulin for people with Type 2 diabetes has shown its effectiveness for blood glucose management when used 3 times a week.
Business and Other Briefings
ICO: Businesses & other organisations running websites in the UK must ‘wake up’ to the fact that EU legislation, which will require them to get consent in order to store or access information on consumers’ computers, is coming into force on 25 May 2011.
The new law is an amendment to the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is leading on implementing the new measures in the UK, while the ICO will be responsible for regulation.
HMRC: Companies across the UK are being reminded of important changes to Corporation Tax (CT) filing & payment, which come into effect in April 2011, when all Corporation Tax payments will have to be made electronically and all company tax returns must be filed online for accounting periods ending after 31 March 2010. The returns will also have to be filed using a specified data format, known as Inline XBRL or iXBRL.
As well as limited companies, the changes will affect other organisations that pay corporation tax, including clubs, societies, associations, co-operatives, charities and other unincorporated bodies. Companies will be able to file online, either through commercially available software or by using HMRC’s own CT filing software, which is aimed at companies with less complex tax affairs.
The purpose of this is brief is to explain some changes that are being made to the legislation relating to the evidencing of Climate Change Levy (CCL) reliefs and exemptions.
OS: 100 stunning aerial images which form part of an extraordinary outdoor exhibition can now be viewed on a new interactive map created using Ordnance Survey data. In September 2010 Michael Palin, President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) officially opened the Britain from the Air street gallery in the historic centre of Bath. The outdoor exhibition was created by the Society jointly with street gallery pioneers WeCommunic8 and supported by Ordnance Survey.
The exhibition is free to view and accessible 24 hours a day, offering visitors the opportunity to see Britain as they have never seen it before through 100 stunning images, which capture Britain’s beauty as seen from its skies. The photographs reveal mountain valleys carved by glaciers, saw-toothed coastlines edged by glistening waters, abandoned villages and transport networks, telling their story with text, historical images from the Society’s Collections, and maps.
From March 2011 the exhibition was made available online thanks to the highly detailed online mapping service from Ordnance Survey, OS OpenSpace. The free online service allows developers to create individual maps and, with the help of OS OpenSpace Web-Map Builder, users – in this case the Society – can now easily add markers, routes and search functionality to their web map without having to write a single line of code.
ScotGov: Green Academies, the first of their kind in Scotland, are to be set up over the next year. The Academies (run by Scottish Gas), will train a green army to install eco technology in Scottish homes. 447 green energy jobs will be supported including the creation of 77 new jobs & apprenticeships. Links to local college courses will help recruit local apprentices.
The state-of-the-art skills hubs will showcase green technologies such as insulation, air source heat pumps and super efficient boilers, all to be installed under the Scottish Government initiative which provides heating help for low-income households.
Trainee engineers will also learn how to install solar panels and heating systems using high-tech micro-generation technologies. which generate their own power.
STFC: UK space surveillance technology is being used in ESA's first co-ordinated space tracking campaign - part of a larger programme to provide up to date & accurate information on space hazards in Earth's orbit. These hazards stem from possible collisions between objects in orbit, harmful space weather and potential strikes by natural objects that cross Earth's orbit.
UK involvement in the tracking campaign is through the UK Space Agency and includes Space Insight's Starbrook - an innovative optical sensor system for space surveillance, and the STFC's Chilbolton Observatory - one of the world's most advanced meteorological radar experimental facilities.
DFID: A Nottingham company which supplies educational equipment such as woodwork lesson tools & plumbing tools to schools in Africa has been commended by the Secretary of State for International Development. On a visit to Eagle Scientific, Andrew Mitchell MP said that the company was leading the way in working with African governments to ensure schoolchildren have the right tools to learn.
The company is in the final stages of negotiation to win a £31m contract with the Ghanaian government to kit out vocational training schools across the country. The equipment that the company have supplied includes training equipment for woodwork & carpentry, plumbing, domestic science & cookery and automotive & diesel engines courses.
NA: The National Archives has launched the fastest, most accurate version yet of its award-winning file-identification software. A new file-profiling tool DROID (Digital Record Object IDentification) takes the hard work out of managing digital data and is downloadable for free from The National Archives' website. It can scan millions of files at a time and correctly identify hundreds of different file formats, including most document, audio, video and image files in common use.
The information DROID provides can help in making decisions about what data to keep, enabling users to reduce the amount of data held so that work becomes more efficient and cost-effective.
ScotGov: Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Development International (SDI), Scottish Chambers International (SCI) and Chambers of Commerce across the Highlands & Islands are launching Smart Exporter Highlands and Islands. This is part of a Scotland-wide programme aimed at equipping up to 8,000 Scottish companies & senior managers with the skills & expertise to target new international markets.
BIS: The Aerospace Growth Partnership - a new government & aerospace group set up to tackle issues affecting the competitiveness of the sector - met for the first time last week. The AGP will see government and industry working together to address the issues that affect UK competitiveness in the sector. Its work will focus on ensuring that the UK remains an extremely attractive location for aerospace companies to carry out work both on current and future generations of civil aircraft.
ScotGov: Plans for a new £89mn state-of-the-art technology & innovation centre to revolutionise the way universities, business and industry work together will ensure Scotland is at the world forefront of innovation in energy, pharmaceuticals and engineering, First Minister Alex Salmond said last week
The new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) at the University of Strathclyde will - in conjunction with Scottish Enterprise's new International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone (ITREZ) - create 700 new research jobs and support 850 existing jobs.
UKOC: The first ever UK Technology4Good Awards were launched recently at an event in BT Tower, to celebrate & share the success of individuals & organisations that use computers & the internet to help make the communities a better place. Supported by BT and organised by AbilityNet, these unique awards bring together charities & businesses.
BIS: Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, and Minister for Skills, John Hayes, last week launched a £50m a year fund to help businesses develop the skills they need to drive growth. The Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) will deliver targeted help for employer groups to overcome barriers to growth within their sectors and industries. The funding could deliver new training to boost innovation and productivity, enable industries to set new professional standards, or support new or extended National Skills Academies.
Newswire – RoSPA: Keeping school trips on the agenda in Scotland is a key priority for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the safety charity has launched a new series of bespoke workshops to provide teachers with the skills & knowledge to run safe & exciting trips.
RoSPA Scotland hopes that the workshops, to be run within organisations, will help teachers to overcome their fears about taking children out of school and give them the confidence to plan & risk assess school trips effectively. If you would like to organise a workshop for your organisation, please contact Jennifer Fergusson, RoSPA Scotland’s tele-business delivery & administration co-ordinator.
LSIS: There is less than a week to go to get applications in for the unique opportunity to showcase the best of what you do to the world. WorldSkills are looking for more than 100 schools, colleges, training organisations and community groups, from across the UK, to be part of an International Showcase and celebration of UK talent across all areas. The deadline is 17 March 2011. Application packs & all information are on the WorldSkills website.
LSN: A growing selection of FE specific courses are being made available free of charge for Learning and Skills NetworkFE Academy partners. Since its launch in October 2010 we have had a number of colleges sign up to implement their FE Staff Development Academy, including recent additions Boston College and City and Islington College. The LSN list of FE specific online courses continues to grow. All FE Academy partners will receive these free of charge as they are launched.
MCA: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is holding public meetings in Kirkwall on Tuesday 15 March and Ullapool on Wednesday 16 March 2011, about the proposed Coastguard modernisation programme. The meetings will provide an opportunity for communities in those areas to hear more about the proposals, ask questions of MCA representatives and air their views.
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