In the News
Wired-Gov.net: Victim of our own success – The evolvement of two factors over the last year have persuaded us that we need to consider some minor changes to the way we deliver both the alert system emails and the WG Plus newsletter, both driven by our success in increasing our scope of operations.
HMT: Not much to celebrate - The Chancellor, George Osborne, announced in his Budget, ‘plans to reform the nation's economy and steps to help families with the cost of living. The Budget confirms that the Government will stick to its plan to reduce the deficit and sets out a new model of economic growth, based on investment, manufacturing and exports, where prosperity is shared across all regions and across all sectors’.
* The first section of Chapter one describes the source of the imbalances in the UK economy and how the Government is tackling the fiscal & economic challenges this has caused. It also contains a summary of the Office for Budget Responsibility's Economic & Fiscal Outlook.
* The second section of Chapter one outlines the Budget announcements to support balanced economic growth & job creation.
* The third section of Chapter one outlines the announcements made for the personal tax & benefit system in more detail.
EU News: Tax Revenue & Power are not the only things that we are short of - The European Commission has published a report on Member States' progress in addressing water scarcity & droughts. The balance between water demand & availability has reached a critical level in many areas of Europe, a trend that is expected to become more marked as climate change progresses.
In the run up to a major water policy review in 2012, this report presents the water management measures introduced by Member States to tackle water scarcity & droughts and highlights the areas for further action. In 2009-10 water scarcity occurred in much of Southern Europe – due to limited water resources, high demand for water & less rain.
The report confirms that water scarcity & drought is not limited to Mediterranean countries. Recent studies show that by 2050 most European regions are expected to be under medium or severe water stress – mainly due to unsustainable water use, exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
HO: Bringing better health and some purpose into their lives - At a launch of a new report which suggests that sports projects can be really effective in tackling youth crime, the crime prevention minister, James Brokenshire, has reiterated the need for early intervention. He said: “This report highlights just how important it is that we intervene in the early stages with young people on the cusp of getting involved in crime, ensuring they have positive engagement with mentors, peers and role models. Sport is an excellent way to achieve this”.
The report measured 3 sports-based projects, The Boxing Academy, Kickz and 2nd Chance. It suggested that they have been highly effective and can even save the government money. The report found that The Boxing Academy based in Tottenham, costs half as much as a pupil referral unit and has lower re-offending rates. It also revealed that one Kickz project saved £7 for every £1 invested, by reducing costs to victims, police, prisons and courts.
The minister is encouraging organisations working to prevent young people from getting involved in gang crime to apply for government funding.
CLG: It might be ‘socially ok’ in a corporately owned building, but all too often it impacts on ordinary people - Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has ‘locked the door’ on squatters' rights, by strengthening the Government's advice to homeowners looking to protect their properties. The Government will take steps in the New Year to make squatting a criminal offence - but the Minister argued that now was the time to redress the balance and make sure homeowners were fully aware of their rights.
Published jointly with the Ministry of Justice, the strengthened guidance offers reassurance to homeowners that squatters are not above the law - and that there are steps they can take if a squatter invades their home. Owners can get helpful tips online on how to protect their homes from burglars - many of which may also be useful in protecting their properties from squatters.
The guidance also clarifies the 'legal warning' squatters often post on the front door. While this warning often states it would be a criminal offence to use or threaten violence to enter the property this is a distortion of the law as it stands - it does not apply to displaced residential occupiers trying to get back into their homes.
EU News: Not many people know this! - During emergencies & crises, such as in Japan, Libya or Egypt, EU citizens abroad have the right to ask for assistance from any EU consulate or embassy when their Member State is not represented in the country.
EU Member States must also help citizens evacuate as if they were their own nationals. The EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights guarantee this right, which is a key part of EU citizenship. Protection also covers everyday situations, like a passport being stolen, a serious accident or illness.
Press release ~ Consular Protection for EU Citizens
Gartner PPM & IT Governance
Summit | 15 – 14 June 2011 | Lancaster London Hotel |
London - The Gartner PPM & IT Governance Summit is the must-attend event for senior leaders involved in program and portfolio management, the PMO, enterprise PMO and IT governance.
Summit provides a unique mix of Gartner Research presentations, Guest Keynote Addresses, Real-Life Case Studies, Interactive Panel Discussions and Industry Sessions to provide you with a holistic view of the PPM and IT Governance landscape. Information, insight and advice are channelled through an increasingly targeted and focused approach, taking you from the high-level strategic view all the way to your specific issue.
Hot topics to be covered:
* Program Management Approaches
* Portfolio Management
* IT Governance That Works
* Program Management Office
* Resource Management
Don’t Miss the Must-Attend Event for PPM & IT Governance Professionals in 2011
Learn more and register now
WAG: The First Minister of Wales is using the People's Collection website to solve a family mystery as he adds items from his own personal collection to the national digital treasure trove of over 24,000 items that tells the story of Wales and its past through its people.
CEOP: Details of the 22nd convicted missing child sex offender to be published on the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre’s Most Wanted website have been released recently. Jason TRASK, 63 and a UK national, was last known to have been living in Holland, but has since returned to the UK. He has links to Bradford, Huddersfield, Woolwich, Greenwich, Medway, Maidstone and Canterbury.
Ofgem: Ofgem proposes sweeping away complex & unfair pricing practices. Ofgem’s review found that competition is being stifled by a combination of tariff complexity, poor supplier behaviour and lack of transparency.
Further, the degree of influence the big six assert on the retail market has not diminished since Ofgem’s 2008 probe. The clearest example, being the finding that for the first time there is evidence that the Big Six have adjusted prices in response to rising costs more quickly than they reduced them when costs fell.
EH: New isotope analysis & forensic facial reconstruction undertaken by a team led by English Heritage has shed new light on the doomed 1845 British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Sir John Franklin, in which all 129 people on board perished. Analysis of the only surviving complete skeleton has offered new clues as to why the expedition was lost, a mystery that has sparked debate ever since.
ippr: A ground-breaking joint initiative between the Global Climate Network's (GCN) Nigerian member organisation and the country's Industry & Commerce Ministry will lead to an industrial strategy to promote low-carbon development in Nigeria, it was announced recently.
The initiative was launched during a high-level event organised by the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED-Nigeria) in Abuja, the first in 6 different countries, resulting from a study by the GCN to identify the key elements of such a strategy.
STFC: A brand new run of experiments is underway at STFC's ISIS neutron source, from looking at ways of developing new antibiotics, through creating more effective materials in dentistry, to research that could in the future lead to improving the efficiency of electricity transfer in the national grid.
ISIS, a set of 'super-microscopes' that allows us to understand the world around us at the atomic level, is back online after a 6 month shutdown period for planned maintenance work. ISIS users include universities & industry as well as STFC's own scientists and engineers.
DFID: Special flood-resistant rice can breathe under water for up to two weeks, giving it protection during the monsoon season. It will potentially benefit 18m farming households in Asia – providing them with valuable protection during the monsoon season.
The grain – known as scuba rice – has a flood-resistant gene and survives by extending its leaves & stems above the water's surface to escape drowning. It was developed by the International Rice Research Institute, and funded by the Department for International Development. It was named the most effective eco-initiative by a Government or Statutory Body at the Climate Week Awards recently.
The rice will save millions of lives as rising sea levels & storms are forecast to cause a 15% drop in rice production in developing countries. In a trial in Bangladesh, 95% of scuba plants recovered after flooding compared to just 12% for a traditional variety. Also the sowing of scuba seeds could produce an additional 1m tonnes of paddy annually, making the country more food secure and creating export potential.
DCMS: From the very north of Scotland to the garden of England in Kent, a total of 11 sites across the UK & its overseas territories will form the new UK tentative list for potential nomination for world heritage status.
FSA: Natco Foods has withdrawn two batches of curried chick peas because the product contains mustard, which is not mentioned on the label. This makes the product a possible health risk for anyone who is sensitive to mustard. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: Dairy Crest has recalled one batch of its FRijj Thick and Fresh Strawberry Milkshake because it contains low levels of listeria. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is working with port health authorities and other Government departments to ensure that food imports from Japan, mainly fish & shellfish, are screened for the presence of radioactive material. Only 0.1% of food imports received by the UK come from Japan, but any food that is found to have levels of radiation above the legal limits will be prevented from entering the country.
Newswire – HPA: World TB Day on 24h March 2011 commemorated the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus, the cause of tuberculosis. Over 9m new cases of TB (& nearly 2m deaths from TB) are estimated to occur around the world every year.
TB kills more people than any other curable infectious diseases. The World Health Organization declared TB a global emergency in 1993. TB is curable with a combination of specific antibiotics, but treatment must be continued for at least 6 months.
Around 9,000 cases of TB are currently reported each year in the UK. Most cases occur in major cities, particularly in London. TB is currently at the highest levels since the 1970s
CLG: Everyone will have the chance to become a part of London's history after the 2012 Olympic Games in a competition for the public to name the 5 neighbourhoods in the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 'Your Park, Your Place' competition is asking the public to suggest names that reflect the history & character of the Park, from its recent past as a manufacturing centre to its aspirations for the future.
Entries that inspire a sense of local character & history will give the local community a real sense of ownership over the Park. People have 8 weeks to make their suggestions to the Olympic Park Legacy Company.
Newswire – RoSPA: With the UK having put its clocks forward last weekend, RoSPA is urging people to back its daylight saving campaign online - so that evenings stay lighter for longer all year round. For decades, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has been at the forefront of a crusade to give the UK an extra hour of evening daylight - citing research that shows brighter nights would save 80 lives and prevent more than 200 serious injuries on our roads each year.
The initiative has generated powerful momentum in recent months, winning the backing of tens of thousands of people & organisations through 10:10’s Lighter Later coalition - of which RoSPA is a member.
HO: A national search for the most innovative crime fighting projects has been launched. The Tilley Awards, now in their 13th year, recognise crime fighting projects where police, community safety groups and the public work together to tackle problems identified by their local communities. There is a £2,000 prize for the winning project.
Projects designed to tackle anti-social behaviour, violence against women & girls, burglary, drug & alcohol related crime, criminal damage and arson have until 13 June 2011 to submit their entries. Projects that have used community activism, 'designing out' crime techniques, have been led by non-police agencies and projects that have tackled seasonal crime, must submit entries by 5 September 2011.
DfE: The first ever Church School Awards were held in London on 24 March 2011.
Ofsted: Ofsted has launched a report addressing the challenges schools must face up to if they are to modernise the design & technology (D&T) curriculum and help it keep pace with global technological developments.
The report identifies a lack of subject-specific training for teachers that is undermining efforts to develop pupils’ knowledge & skills. Too many teachers are failing to keep pace with technological developments or expand on their initial training sufficiently to enable them to teach the technically demanding aspects of the curriculum. This often results in an out-dated curriculum in the later years of primary schools and early years of secondary school.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Changes to school funding, including cluster level management of budgets and a national formula for the distribution of money to Scottish schools, are recommended in a recent report. Education expert David Cameron's report makes clear that changes to allow groups of schools - such as primary & secondary schools which share a catchment area - to manage their budgets together can help schools make the most of the opportunities Curriculum for Excellence offers.
HMT: The Government has accepted the recommendations of Pay Review Bodies for public sector pay awards for 2011-12. In line with the announcement made in the June Budget, public sector workers covered by the Bodies earning £21,000 or less will receive a pay increase of £250 for 2011-12. Those earning over £21,000 will have their pay frozen for two years. Overall, the pay freeze will save £3.3bn a year by 2014-15.
WAG: Care & Repair services across Wales have been awarded £4.77m of Welsh Assembly Government funding to help older people to remain in their own homes.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government's commitment to no compulsory redundancies for its own staff has been extended for another year, until the end of March 2012. Agreement was reached following discussions with Finance Secretary John Swinney and union negotiators of the Council of Scottish Government Unions.
HO: Victims of crime & antisocial behaviour, including bereaved families, will benefit from additional support in their communities, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced. New funding of £1m will be spent across the country to ensure victims & witnesses are given a powerful local voice ahead of the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in 2012.
The Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses, Louise Casey, will work in partnership with Victim Support, the national charity for victims, to set up a network of advocates.
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government is teaming up with Sir Terry Matthews to create a new graduate entrepreneurship programme aimed at ‘creating a new generation of high calibre technology entrepreneurs’. The scheme, which is in the final stages of development, would be in partnership with Sir Terry Matthews’ Wesley Clover organisation and the Waterloo Foundation. It will be administered by a not-for- profit foundation called ‘Alacrity’.
DfT: A package of measures to tackle drink & drug driving was announced last week by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond. Improved testing equipment to detect drink & drug drivers will be given the green light and key changes made to streamline enforcement of both offences.
The Government will also examine the case for a new specific drug driving offence – alongside the existing one – which would remove the need for the police to prove impairment on a case-by-case basis where a specified drug has been detected. The full response to the North Report, which also includes the Department’s response to the Transport Select Committee’s report on the same subject, was published last week.
ScotGov: Enterprise Minister, Jim Mather, travelled to China last week to meet several existing & potential investors in Scotland. The visit coincided with the launch of Scotland's new 5 year Trade & Investment Strategy to boost international trade links, attract investment from key overseas growth markets and promote Scotland's credentials as an internationally competitive business location. The strategy aims to deliver up to £2bn of net additional GVA to the Scottish economy through trade and investment activity by 2015.
HO: Tougher entrance criteria, limits on work entitlements and the closure of the post study work route are some of the changes being made to the student visa system, announced by Home Secretary Theresa May.
This announcement follows a major public consultation on the reform of Tier Four - the student entry route to the UK of the Points Based System - after a Home Office review revealed widespread abuse. A sample of students studying at private institutions showed that 26% of them could not be accounted for.
ScotGov: Last week, 130 projects were announced as the latest community initiatives to receive awards totalling over £8m from the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF). Since 2008, 345 communities the length and breadth of Scotland have received a share of the £37.7 million made available under the popular CCF initiative to help reduce their carbon footprint.
ScotGov: Midge Ure is backing Scotland's bid for the 2015 World Water Forum. He will promote Scotland's commitment to provide safe, clean water for developing countries and efforts to improve global, water security. Hosting the event in Glasgow could attract 20,000 visitors from around the world and generate £20m to the Scottish economy.
Defra: Additional £2m p.a. funding for the Environment Agency to provide practical advice to help businesses, organisations & communities prepare for climate change has been announced.
The Environment Agency (EA) will take on a new, additional role as the Government’s delivery body in England for advice on climate adaptation – the actions needed to build our resilience to the changes & impacts projected such as hotter, drier summers; warmer, wetter winters; and an increased risk of severe weather and flooding.
WAG: The Minister for Heritage has welcomed the positive response to the consultation on the Welsh Language strategy – 'A living language: a language for living' – and outlined the work ahead to finish the development of the strategy. The Minister has published a document which ‘summarises the main themes raised during the consultation and sets out actions for the coming year for the preparation of the final strategy and action plan’.
DECC: Proposals to reduce the financial support available to larger scale solar-produced electricity have been published for consultation (closes on Friday 6 May 2011) by the Government as part of plans to protect financial support for homes, communities & small businesses. This consultation also covers proposals to provide added support to farm-scale anaerobic digestion given the disappointing uptake of such technologies to date.
WAG: New planning guidance that will support the future of the Welsh language is being proposed by Minister for Environment & Planning, Jane Davidson. The Assembly Government is consulting on new proposals that specify how the Welsh language should be factored into the local planning process in an effort to support the needs & interests of the language. The consultation will close on 13 June 2011.
GEO: Reforms to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will ‘make it a stronger, more focussed and more efficient organisation’, Home Secretary and Minister for Women & Equalities Theresa May said last week. The Government Equalities Office has published detailed plans for major changes to the way the EHRC operates. The reforms will ‘correct mistakes of the past and increase transparency, accountability and value for money’. The proposals are contained in a consultation that will closes on 15 June 2011.
Ministers plan to make changes in 3 key areas:
* Clarifying the EHRC's remit
* Stopping non-core activities
* Improving transparency and value for money
DH: The use of antivirals, pandemic vaccines and planning assumptions are among the issues that have been set out in a consultation launched to update the cross-Government pandemic flu strategy (closes on Friday 17 June 2011). The UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy updates the 2007 National Framework to encompass the lessons learnt from swine flu.
It includes a new emphasis on planning for different scenarios according to the nature & scale of illness and highlights key impacts on wider society. The finalised Strategy will be published later in the year.
Ofsted: Ofsted has launched a consultation (closes 20 May 2011) on the inspection of maintained schools & academies in England. The changes follow proposals announced in the 2011 Education Bill and aim to re-focus school inspection on what matters most: the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, backed by excellent leadership & management and good discipline & behaviour in schools. The consultation seeks views on the detail of how Ofsted will implement these changes.
The consultation also seeks views on when Ofsted should inspect. Outstanding schools will no longer be subject to routine inspections (unless concerns about their performance are identified) and the consultation asks for views on the factors inspectors should consider when assessing whether an inspection is needed. In addition, it asks for views on plans to carry out more frequent inspections of weaker schools and on the circumstances in which schools may request an inspection.
As well as the consultation, Ofsted will be testing the new inspection arrangements in pilot inspections, with a view to introducing the new system in January 2012, subject to the successful passage of the Education Bill.
WAG: Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, is urging food manufacturers, shops & the service sector in Wales to do more to prevent waste and avoid sending rubbish to landfill. She is reminding them that it isn’t just councils & householders who need to change the way they deal with their waste if Wales is to reach its ambition of recycling 70% of its waste by 2025 and becoming zero waste by 2050.
The Minister opened consultation (closes on 22 June 2011) on the Food Manufacture, Service and Retail Sector Plan for waste with a visit to Wales' first commercial-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) plant.
The InSource Energy plant at Premier Foods Ltd’s RF Brookes factory near
Newport is one of the first in the to use waste from food production to create energy to feed back into the production process. It is currently at commissioning stage and will be fully operational summer 2011.
Press release ~ InSource Energy plant
NE: A report setting out proposals for the first stretch of the EnglandCoast Path between Lulworth & Portland have been submitted by Natural England to the Secretary of State. The publication marks the start of the period for formal representations & objections. Anyone can make representations to NE about the report.
Owners & occupiers of affected land may make formal objections about the report on specified grounds, which will be considered by a Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. All representations & objections must be received by NE no later than midnight on 17 May 2011.
Ofcom: Ofcom has recently announced plans for the largest ever single auction of additional spectrum for mobile services in the UK, equivalent to 75% of the mobile spectrum in use today and 80% more than the 3G auction which took place in 2000. The new spectrum will provide much needed capacity for the fourth generation (4G) of mobile technology, set to deliver significantly faster mobile broadband services – approaching today’s ADSL home broadband speeds.
Ofcom wants the benefits of 4G services to be available as soon as possible and we are therefore aiming to start the auction in the first quarter of 2012, subject to this consultation (closes on 31 May 2011).
EU News: On-line gambling is a fast developing business in Europe, with almost 15,000 websites already identified & total annual revenues exceeding €6bn in 2008 and expected to double in size by 2013. National legal frameworks vary enormously across the EU, with different rules applying to licensing, related on-line services, payments, public interest objectives, and the fight against fraud.
The primary aim of the Green Paper consultation, launched last week ( closes on 31 July 2011), is therefore to obtain a facts-based picture of the existing situation in the EU on-line gambling market and of the different national regulatory models.
EU News: Coastal & marine areas offer significant opportunities for economic development, leisure & living. They host rich but fragile biodiversity. Transparent planning & management of European waters are needed to balance the interests at play against sustaining the long-term benefit of coastal & marine resources to society.
With these objectives in mind, the European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 20 May 2011) to explore options for future EU action on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management. The Commission is seeking the views of all interested individuals & organisations.
EU News: The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has invited citizens, interest groups, and other organisations to submit comments on a draft statement of principles that should guide the conduct of EU civil servants.
The draft ‘public service principles’ take account of best practice in the Member States, established through a consultation with the European Network of Ombudsmen. Comments can be submitted until 15 May 2011 and will be considered before the principles are finalised.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
LLUK: Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) have published the brand new National Occupational Standards (NOS) for Career Development roles. The new NOS are relevant to those in advice & guidance roles working with all ages across the UK. They have also produced a series of example job profiles which can be used to support a range of HR and staff development activities. A brand new NOS User Guide for the lifelong learning sector will also be available at the end of March.
NICE: GPs in areas of high HIV prevalence should offer routine HIV testing when registering new patients and to anyone who has a blood test, says NICE. The call comes as NICE publishes 2 pieces of complementary guidance aimed at increasing the uptake of HIV testing among people from black African communities and men who have sex with men.
Advances in medicine mean that HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was 30 years ago, and can now be successfully managed with antiretroviral therapies. But too often people are diagnosed late, by which time the virus has already damaged their immune system. Late diagnosis is one of the biggest contributing factors to illness and death for people with HIV.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published its clinical guideline on the diagnosis & management of tuberculosis and measures for its prevention & control. A partial update of NICE clinical guideline 33 (published in March 2006), the new recommendations focus on the diagnosis of latent TB using interferon-gamma tests (IGT).
NICE: NICE has published a guideline for the care of people with diabetic foot problems in hospital, as the number of people with diabetes continues to rise. Each year in the UK, around 5,000 people with diabetes undergo leg, foot or toe amputations, equivalent to 100 a week.
Treating diabetic foot problems also has a considerable financial impact on the NHS through outpatient costs, increased bed occupancy & longer hospital stays. Implementation tools, including a podcast, slide set, costing report and baseline assessment, are available to help healthcare professionals put this guidance into practice.
OFT: The OFT has published a guideline for businesses about the types of land agreements that may infringe competition law. Until now, agreements between businesses concerning land have benefited from special treatment and have been excluded from the UK competition law prohibition on anti-competitive agreements.
However, from 6 April 2011 this exclusion will be removed and restrictions that prevent, restrict or distort competition will be void & unenforceable. Companies involved in anti-competitive agreements can also face fines of up to 10% of their annual worldwide turnover.
ScotGov: Financial services companies in Scotland must grasp new opportunities in growth markets across the world and in growth industries such as renewable energy, John Swinney said last week. The Finance Secretary was speaking as the Financial Services Advisory Board published its sixth Annual Report.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published its business plan setting out its priorities for 2011/12, and the implications for the FSA’s budget. The document outlines the FSA’s priorities and specific initiatives for the year ahead, which reflect the continuing challenges facing the financial services industry.
General Reports and Other Publications
CO: The review into Government Direct Communication and the role of COI, carried out by Matt Tee, Permanent Secretary Government Communication has been published recently. It is proposed that activity will be concentrated in fewer areas of focus and to targeted audiences, so that Government communications is more effective and so that the Government is not aiming multiple messages at the same audience.
Newswire – CIPD: The extent to which managers provide guidance, feedback and the appropriate level of autonomy for staff is key to whether employees go the extra mile for their organisation, new research for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests. The research was commissioned to help organisations develop practical guidance for use in promoting better line management performance amongst managers.
NICE: NICE has issued its response to the government's plans to introduce a new value-based system of pricing medicines which aims to give NHS patients better access to effective and innovative medicines.
iea: A new paper released recently shows that many of UK Uncut’s claims are fundamentally flawed & contradictory. In UK Uncut Unravelled the iea examines the claims made against some of UK Uncut’s main targets and finds that they often misrepresent the facts and completely misunderstand the way that tax law.
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly debated the Committee for Education’s Report on its Inquiry into Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities recently. The Report makes a number of recommendations to the Department of Education highlighting in particular the importance of leadership to a school’s success.
KPMG: Preliminary findings from the forthcoming 2011 Pensions Accounting Survey from KPMG in the UK reveal that the change to using CPI as the pension inflation measure & stabilising life expectancies have improved the position for UK private sector pension fund liabilities. The KPMG Pensions Accounting Survey 2011 will be available in May 2011.
WWF: The water & carbon footprint of wasted household food in the UK has been identified for the first time, highlighting the major environmental consequences of food waste, both in this country and globally.
The report - The Water and Carbon Footprint of Household Food Waste in the UK (jointly published by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and WWF) - found that water used to produce food that householders in the UK then waste represents 6% of the UK’s water requirements, (6.2bn cubic metres per year), a quarter of which originates in the UK.
The 6.2bn cubic metres of water used to produce the 5.3m tonnes of food that householders waste every year is nearly twice the annual household water usage of the UK. The report also goes on to identify the countries of origin for wasted food and looks at the context of water scarcity in those regions in the shape of case studies.
Socitm: Socitm Head of Policy Martin Ferguson is 1 of a panel of 3 local authority IT experts who will be giving evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) inquiry into the way in which Government develops information technology (IT) policy, and the strategy for its implementation.
The PASC inquiry addresses the Government's overall approach to information technology including how it identifies business needs, the effectiveness of governance arrangements and procurement policy & practice. See press release for Socitm’s written evidence to PASC.
IFS: New Institute for Fiscal Studies research estimates that in the 3 years from 2008 to 2011 real household incomes will have fallen by 1.6%, or £360 a year. So households are likely to be about 6% worse off than they might have expected had incomes risen in the normal way.
Newswire – NHSConfed: The NHS Confederation’s BME leadership forum recently gathered over 60 delegates from across the health sector to discuss how the proposed NHS reforms might impact on BME communities, patients & staff (See press release for presentations from the day).
The forum is now looking for a new chair to guide & drive the work of the group and ensure it is effective in meeting its aims. The forum will be hosting its yearly reception at the NHS Confederation’s Annual Conference and Exhibition from 6 to 8 July 2011 in Manchester.
NAO: Increases in expenditure on education for 16- to 18-year-olds, which now stands at £6bn per year, have been matched by improvements in students’ achievements and their increasing participation in education. Nevertheless, the National Audit Office cannot conclude that value for money is being delivered across the system, because of variation in the arrangements for accountability, performance monitoring & intervention where poor performance exists.
IISS: It would take Iran at least 2 years to produce a single nuclear weapon, according to a new in-depth report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Although concerns have long been raised about Iran’s uranium enrichment programme – and major powers have sought to limit it through talks, sanctions & sabotage – officials & analysts have differed in their estimates of the timeline for an Iranian nuclear weapon.
This latest Strategic Dossier, Iran’s Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Capabilities: a net assessment explains that most government public estimates fail to provide, the assumptions & calculations behind the timelines.
Newswire – NHSConfed: Frontline professionals support the idea of personal health budgets, but currently have little enthusiasm for their implementation’ says a new report from our Mental Health Network and the National Mental Health Development Unit. It says clinicians especially are not yet convinced that personal health budgets will benefit patients.
51% of healthcare professionals agree that personal budgets will enable a positive shift in power & control to service users, whereas only 20% disagree. Overall, however, just 28% of respondents said they have any enthusiasm for personal health budgets to be implemented.
NAO: The Department for Transport took a tough line in negotiating with the owner of the InterCity East Coast franchise, National Express, before terminating the franchise agreement in 2009, according to the National Audit Office. The Department avoided disruption to passenger services & protected the taxpayer, securing overall value for money.
Newswire – RoSPA: Teenage parents want better access to home safety information so they can take even greater steps towards keeping their children safe, show the findings of new research – ‘Investigating home safety amongst young parents’ which looked at how safety messages could be better tailored for young parents.
Newswire – PC: MPs should be allowed to use handheld electronic devices, such as iPads & smartphones, in the Chamber of the House of Commons provided that they do so with decorum and regard for others, say the Procedure Committee in a report published last week. The committee will now seek an opportunity to put the report to the House for its agreement.
Newswire – JCHR: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published a report on the policing of recent protests in central London and the preparations for last Saturday’s 'March for the Alternative'. The policing of protest engages several human rights, including freedom of expression & assembly, the right to life, the prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment and rights to liberty & privacy.
The report welcomes the advance cooperation between the police & organisers of the TUC march and the planned involvement of human rights observers in the control room on the day of the march itself. It also welcomes police initiatives to communicate better with protestors by using leaflets & Twitter, but concerns remain about ‘kettling’ & the use of batons.
NAO: The National Audit Office has published a review of the developments to date associated with the Efficiency and Reform Group and its main responsibilities. It is too soon for the NAO to reach a judgment on its success in improving the value for money of government overall. The review is intended to provide an objective baseline against which progress made by the Group can be assessed by the NAO and the Public Accounts Committee.
Newswire – EUsC: The House of Lords EU Sub Committee on economic & financial affairs and international trade is sceptical about implementation of new proposals and concerned about creation of a ‘two-speed’ Europe.
EA: The Environment Agency have published detailed profiles on the cleanliness of some 500 bathing water sites across England & Wales. The new bathing water profiles on their website, include maps, photos and links to the latest water quality results for each of the country’s designated coastal & inland bathing sites. Over 8 in 10 beaches met the EU ‘guideline’ standard – compared to just 3 in 10 in 1990.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: New powers which will allow law enforcement agencies to recover even more gangsters' profits came into force last week as Ministers seek to crack down further on the illegal activities of the criminal underworld.
Under changes being brought in to strengthen the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), the range of offences that qualify as being a criminal lifestyle will be extended to include even more crimes. The threshold for the other criminal lifestyle tests will also be lowered from £5,000 to £1,000, meaning that more profits can be stripped from all levels of criminals operating in Scotland.
PCS: The PCS union and the Prison Officers Association have launched legal action against the newly imposed civil service redundancy scheme, known as the civil service compensation scheme (CSCS). The unions have made a claim for a judicial review, which challenges the decision of 22 December 2011 to introduce a new civil service compensation scheme - reducing redundancy benefits by up to a third.
The claim seeks a declaration that the new scheme and the changes to the law - called the Superannuation Act 2010 - which were ‘rushed through’ parliament in the autumn, are incompatible with the Human Rights Act. Following the submission of their case the unions are now waiting for a response from the Cabinet Office and a date for a hearing in the High Court.
Newswire – SAC: The Scottish Affairs Committee has published its report on the Scotland Bill, in which it says the Bill achieves its stated purpose of increasing the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament, but identifies a number of areas for improvement.
ScotGov: The double jeopardy principle dates back over 800 years, but questions have been raised in recent years about whether it needed to be modernised for the 21st Century. Following a consultation with Scotland's legal profession, the public, victims and their families last year, formal steps were taken by Ministers to make the legislative changes required and a Bill was passed last week by the Scottish Parliament.
The rule will not be removed - double jeopardy is a fundamental principle of Scots law which provides essential protection against the state repeatedly pursuing an individual for the same act. However, certain exceptions will now apply.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
ScotGov: Around £14.3m of EU funding is to be invested to support Scotland's tourism sector, sustainable public transport, develop SMEs, build links between research & business and provide training opportunities.
It includes cash from the European Regional Development Fund for VisitScotland to provide extra support to local tourism businesses & promote attractions, an award to East Ayrshire Council to complete 2,100sq m of small industrial units and cash to assist with the introduction of real time passenger information on bus services.
EU News: Human salmonellosis cases were reduced almost by half over a 5-year period, from 196,000 cases in 2004 to 108,000 cases in 2009, thanks to measures introduced by the EU a report confirms.
EU News: Since last week, all EU citizens have had access to information on the thousands of authorised pharmaceutical clinical trials that are underway in the EU. The aim of this official public register is to make clinical research on pharmaceuticals more transparent for patients & others and to avoid unnecessary duplication of clinical trials.
EU News: Parliament backed a limited Treaty change to allow the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism in a vote last Wednesday, one day before the summit where EU Member States were expected to endorse this new tool.
EU News: New rules on consumer rights to protect online shoppers and boost consumer confidence in buying in other Member States were backed by Parliament last Thursday. MEPs approved changes to the draft law, but decided to postpone their final position with a view to reaching an agreement with the Council.
The new EU law should cover almost all sales, whether made in a shop, by phone, by post or online, says Parliament. It will update existing rules to take account of growth in internet sales and provide better protection for online shoppers.
EU News: Non EU-workers are set to enjoy the same rights regarding working conditions as EU nationals, under the proposed 'single permit' law directive adopted by Parliament last Thursday. This draft law seeks to simplify procedures for both migrants & their employers, via a combined permit for residence & work.
National authorities of each country will still have the power to decide whether to admit non-EU workers and how many to admit. But now they will issue residence permits that include information on permission to work. To avoid confusion, they must issue no additional documents. The UK & Ireland have opted out of this directive. Denmark is also not taking part.
EU News: The primary aim of a Green Paper consultation, launched last week ( closes on 31 July 2011), is to obtain a facts-based picture of the existing situation in the EU on-line gambling market and of the different national regulatory models – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU News: The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has invited citizens, interest groups, and other organisations to submit comments on a draft statement of principles that should guide the conduct of EU civil servants – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 20 May 2011) to explore options for future EU action on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DUK: Diabetes UK has revamped its eye health web content to provide even more information at the click of a mouse. Two new sections, 'Eyes (Retinopathy)' and 'Monitoring your eyes', cover all aspects of eye health from explaining retinal screening, what retinopathy is, the causes and treatment of the condition, and a page answering frequently asked questions.
BHF: Researchers have proposed a new 2-hour protocol to more quickly identify people with chest pain (but at low risk of having a heart attack) so they can be discharged from hospital sooner.
The protocol includes carrying out an established probability score based on existing health conditions & family history, as well as an electrocardiograph (ECG) and a triple bedside blood test to check biomarkers within 2 hours. The study suggests this new method would reduce the amount of time people at low heart attack risk spent waiting in hospital, reducing costs and freeing up space in the process.
CRUK: Bowel cancer rates in 60 to 69 year olds went up by more than 12% in England from 2006 to 2008, according to the latest figures from Cancer Research UK. The increase in cases comes shortly after the introduction of bowel screening in England began to be rolled out nationally in 2006 for men & women aged 60 to 69. Screening is now offered to men and women from ages 60 to 74 in England.
BHF: New research, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, has found that using a more sensitive test to measure a protein that leaks out of damaged heart cells into the blood stream could help in the diagnosis of heart attacks. The test could also help identify heart attack patients who are at a high risk of dying from a second attack.
Newswire – PA: The Patients Association’s first report of patient experiences in Wales, The Lottery of Dignified Care, commissioned by the Dignity in Care Co-ordinating Group of the Welsh Assembly Government was highlighted on Tuesday 15th February in Week In Week Out on BBC Wales. This was the third publication of patient experiences and looked particularly at the lack of dignity that patients had reported to PA.
Chief Executive Katherine Murphy commented: "These are patients who, at the end of their lives, deserved the highest standards of dignity. What they got was a lottery. The memories for their families can never be erased, but the Welsh Assembly Government and Health Boards can act so that such cases never happen again”.
VSO: Global Xchange - a partnership programme managed by the British Council and VSO - has launched a new overseas volunteering opportunity for residents aged 18-22 to get involved in fighting poverty. Global Xchange Youth Action gives young people the chance to spend 3 life-changing months in Africa or Asia, as part of the UK Government’s International Citizen Service scheme. First places start in July 2011.
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund has launched ‘People Powered Change’, a platform to build, accelerate and extend new & different approaches to develop great community-led action already underway across England. Through ‘People Powered Change’ BIG will provide support, information & tools to release the talents of individuals & community groups, to improve and strengthen their neighbourhoods.
Business and Other Briefings
WAG: A new facility at the Welsh Assembly Government’s Llandudno Junction office will help businesses & individuals in Wales become even more innovative. The Llandudno Junction PATLIB, or patent library, will provide local access to patent information & practical assistance on a variety of Intellectual Property issues, including one-to-one consultations with Intellectual Property experts. To contact the PATLIB and make an appointment with one of the clinics go to : firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 060 3000.
ECGD: Many more British exporters, including many SMEs, are now eligible to apply for short term credit insurance from ECGD, the UK export credit agency. ECGD's short term insurance has previously only been available for capital exports, making it of interest mainly to large exporters.
In the white paper Trade & Investment for Growth the Government announced that this would be extended to include finished manufactures & intermediate goods. The contract value can be as low as £20,000.
The Government intends to legislate to give statutory effect to ESC 3.2.2. This brief sets out the timetable for legislating and how the ESC should be interpreted in the interim.
This Brief announces a simplification of the 'change in use' provisions that will take effect from 1 March 2011.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published a Plan for Offshore Wind development in Scotland's seas. Blue Seas, Green Energy confirms that offshore renewable developments are viable in at least 6 sites, with a potential to deliver almost 5 Gigawatts of electricity generating capacity by 2020.
The Plan sets out the Government's vision for developing offshore wind energy up to 2020 & beyond. It has been developed following a successful & engaging consultation last year and informed by a substantial evidence base of possible social & environmental interactions with offshore wind development, as reflected in the accompanying Post Adoption Statement.
Developers can now move forward to the licensing stage. A further announcement regarding next steps will be made by the end of June 2011. Any decision to pursue development following this publication will be a commercial one and subject to existing planning & licensing procedures.
MoD: A new form of armoured netting which can stop rocket-propelled grenades damaging vehicles was one of the items showcased at an event to mark National Science and Engineering Week. The event gave an insight into current technologies being deployed in support of our Armed Forces and a forward look at the scientific innovations which may one day add to the current range of tools which give military personnel a battle-winning edge.
ScotGov: First Minister, Alex Salmond, has announced plans by energy engineering giant Doosan Power Systems to locate its renewables research & development (R&D) base (& potentially offshore wind turbine manufacturing) in Scotland, creating hundreds of new jobs with investments worth up to £170m over the next 10 years.
Separately the First Minister announced that Steel Engineering, also based at Westway, will create a least 120 new jobs, supported by £1.8m Regional Selective Assistance through Scottish Enterprise - to double its full-time workforce and expand its business servicing a range of clean energy sectors, including offshore wind, wave and tidal power.
WAG: Global technology giant Fujitsu has been named as the successful bidder to partner with the Universities in Wales to create a unique £40m world-class super computing network, a research & innovation institute and a skills academy. HPC Wales will give Wales a supercomputing capacity and network at a scale not attempted anywhere else in the UK or Europe.
MoD: Defence Estates (DE) has revealed the MOD's plans for a series of estate procurement industry events and launched an online directory of potential bidders to assist subcontractors & supply chain companies identify possible commercial opportunities.
As part of DE's Next Generation Estate Contracts (NGEC) programme, the MOD will hold an industry day for each prime contract and each national & regional Capital Works Framework, following the expressions of interest (EOI) stage.
LDA: The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has launched the Waste urban development fund, which will provide at least £70m to finance low carbon waste & recycling infrastructure in London. This will help make London a world leader in finding new ways to exploit the cash value of waste, use it to generate green energy whilst creating jobs & developing valuable exportable skills.
MoD: Defence Estates (DE) and the Woodland Trust (WT) have launched a partnership which could see thousands of hectares of woodland planted to help British soldiers train more effectively for military operations, whilst helping to double the UK's woodland cover.
This groundbreaking agreement sees the first 160 hectares, 176,000 trees, planted at the Defence Training Estate (DTE) range at Warcop in Cumbria. At the same time as helping to train new troops, the trees planted will help the WT to hit its target of creating thousands of hectares of new woodland each year and double woodland cover in the UK by 2050.
MoD: Significant changes to the way that the MOD will provide its corporate services in the future have been announced by Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox recently. In a Written Ministerial Statement Dr Fox said:
"As part of the process of departmental reform, today we are announcing the commencement of consultation on a significant organisational change within the Ministry of Defence, with the proposed establishment of a Defence Business Services organisation. Defence Business Services will deliver corporate services - human resources, finance, information, commercial and vetting - from a single structure to all areas of the Department”.
DCMS: Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey, has urged internet companies to work together and engage with consumers to make the successful transition to IPv6. Speaking at the Move Over IPv4 event in London last Tuesday night, Mr Vaizey encouraged the industry to work with 6UK, the organisation set up to help UK organisations adopt the new internet protocol.
The event was held to celebrate the end of Internet Protocol version 4, the system currently used for creating IP addresses. The 4.3 billion addresses supplied by this system have nearly been exhausted, prompting the industry to begin moving to IPv6, which uses longer addresses and will therefore create many billions more.
WAG: Wales' first commercial-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) plant is the InSource Energy plant at Premier Foods Ltd’s RF Brookes factory near
Newport . It is one of the first in the to use waste from food production to create energy to feed back into the production process. It is currently at commissioning stage and will be fully operational this summer – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
InSource Energy plant
ESRC: From the mundane to the magnificent, researchers find when women explore their feelings about being or becoming 'older women' their responses can be both challenging & humorous. Findings from the project entitled 'Look at me! Images of Women and Ageing' have revealed the complexity of women’s feelings about images of ageing. These findings are presented in various exhibitions in Sheffield running from 9 March to 15 April.
After investigating stereotypical images of ageing women, the messages these images give out and how they affect women's well-being, the project facilitators encouraged the women to create new and alternative images using photography, art therapy, and video techniques. To find out more about the Look at Me! Images of Women and Ageing project, visit: www.representing-ageing.com
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