In the News
ICB: Unhappily for some people, there is no mention of ‘Hung, Drawn & Quartered’ as a penalty for bankers taking unwarranted risks! - The Independent Commission on Banking has published its Interim Report. The Commission has been asked to consider structural & related non-structural reforms to the UK banking sector to promote financial stability & competition and to make recommendations to the government.
The Interim Report sets out the Commission’s current & provisional views on the need for reform & on possible reform options, and it seeks views, evidence & analysis in response. The Commission has not reached final conclusions and is due to publish its final report in September 2011.
Defra: EU energy labels get the plus factor - From 20 June 2011 consumers will see a new mandatory energy saving rating label when buying TVs, washing machines, dishwashers & fridge freezers to help make the right choice on what product is best for the environment. In conjunction with retailers, Defra has developed a toolkit of communication materials including a poster, leaflet and a film to explain the changes to the label.
The European Energy Label includes a rainbow of coloured bars and an indicator showing how well that product performs. The labels currently run from A-G, with A being the best & displayed as dark green, and G the worst, depicted as red.
The new labels will see the introduction of A+ and A++ so that products that have gone the extra energy saving mile gain more credit. As products become more energy efficient, higher categories of A+++ may also be added to the rating scale. But the colours of the label will remain the same, so dark green will always indicate the most energy efficient products, even if it is not always 'A'.
nef: Early pro-active action costs less than meeting needs reactively later on - A report (commissioned by Catch 22) attempts to measure & value how greater coherence & responsiveness in young people’s services would contribute to potentially better outcomes for young people & society.
Currently, public services do not deal effectively with this life stage. At the ages of 16, 17 and 18 many of the better targeted & coordinated services for children fall away, often leaving young people who lack support from their families both vulnerable & struggling.
An estimated 200,000 young people find themselves locked into destructive cycles, with long-term consequences for their economic, physical & emotional wellbeing and substantial costs for the state as a result of their ill-health and their dependence on welfare. Recent estimates suggest that youth unemployment costs the exchequer £8.1bn a year; the cost of crime is an additional £1bn each year.
HSE: It’s Party Time - Communities wanting to organise celebrations for the wedding of Prince William & Kate Middleton are being urged not to be fobbed off by jobsworths citing 'health & safety'. The Health & Safety Executive is concerned that 'health & safety' will be trotted out as an unfounded excuse not to hold local celebrations.
HSE has published new information on its website setting the record straight, along with a cartoon lampooning those who would stand in the way of communities celebrating together - returning to its previous 'myth busting' to pre-empt any attempts to inhibit celebrations with unnecessary bureaucracy & red tape.
Press release & links ~ Royal Wedding website ~ Related CLG PR and links
White Paper: Improving the UK’s Cyber Space Security – A Guide to Advanced Persistent Threats (APT’s) - As the UK’s dependence on cyberspace grows, the security of cyberspace becomes ever more critical to the health of the nation. Cyber space cuts across almost all of the threats. The coalition government has given national security the highest priority with the creation of the The National Cyber Security Programme, supported by £650 million of new investment over the next four years
The internet provides enormous benefits and opportunities for the ’s industries, government and public but as our reliance on it grows, so do the risks and threats we face online. These threats and opportunities are likely to increase significantly over the next five to ten years, as our dependency on cyber space deepens.
Imperva, leading data security solutions providers to government and the public sector, have recently produced a paper, ‘CISO’s Guide to Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) and Industrialisation of Hacking’.
Click here to receive your copy of the guide.
PCS: The PCS union General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, has called on Work & Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to apologise for "outrageous spin" over allegations jobcentre staff are being forced to stop people's benefits to meet targets, saying:
"When this story broke Mr Duncan Smith described it as 'claptrap' and a 'conspiracy', but faced with the overwhelming evidence that these targets are still in place, his department has been forced to backtrack. We fundamentally oppose the use of targets for welfare sanctions and we call on the Department for Work and Pensions to put an immediate stop to this abuse of the system."
CEOP: Twin brothers, whose details were posted on CEOP’s Most Wanted website, were last week (Friday 8th April) both in custody in France. Kenneth John & Thomas Anthony Parker, both convicted high risk child sex offenders (whose details were posted on CEOP’s Most Wanted website the week before) will be returned to the UK as soon as possible.
CEOP's Most Wanted site has already seen 20 high risk convicted offenders located since its launch in 2006 and the location of these two individuals brings the total to 22.
FSA: Bernard Matthews Farms is recalling its turkey goujons with a ‘use by’ date of 13 April 2011, because the product possibly contains small pieces of hard plastic. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
NA: Looking for an image to illustrate Victorian design, the Second World War, or another historical event? The National Archives has updated their image library with an eclectic selection of images available for commercial & direct reproduction uses.
A new Showcase section gives business users a shortcut to fresh, topical images. Updated monthly, the Showcase will present topics such as the Titanic and the Great Exhibition of 1851. More unique images created to license and inspire will be showcased in May 2011.
CLG: People living in Hawes, a remote town in the Yorkshire Dales, are saving themselves a 70 mile round trip by running some of their own council services in a new, one-stop community office. Acting on feedback from local residents, and with advice from their local council, volunteers in Hawes are running a community office to offer a range of services, including a library, the use of computers and facilities to pay council tax bills, or talk to the police.
HMRC: Tax credit claimants have been reminded by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to renew claims by the 31 July deadline or their payments may stop. They are asked to act as soon as they receive a renewal pack from HMRC.
Defra: The Government will give £25m to wildlife conservation work around the world through the Darwin Initiative over the next 4 years. Defra’s Darwin Initiative has already spent more than £80m to help protect biodiversity in 156 countries since its inception in 1992.
Directgov: English Heritage has released a new free app for iPhone & Android phones, bringing you ideas for days out across England. Whether you fancy a castle, an English garden or a magical ruin, this handy tool can help you on your way to a great day out.
DfE: A survey of 1,000 parents of all backgrounds has revealed that 88% think that children are under pressure to grow up too quickly. Nearly half were also unhappy with programmes or adverts on TV before the 9pm watershed.
The survey forms part of the independent Bailey Review of Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood, commissioned by the DfE to unravel & tackle issues around the premature sexualisation & commercialisation of children. The survey results, focus groups responses & findings from the call for evidence will be published in the final report of the Bailey Review in May 2011.
DCMS: The Football Association has launched the first semi-professional women’s football league. Eight teams from across the country will play in the newly created Women’s Super League (WSL) this summer. The WSL has been created in a bid to ‘professionalize’ women’s football and attract more women & fans to the game.
Deloitte: Confidence that the insurance industry will achieve Solvency II compliance by 1 January 2013 has dropped by 17 percentage points, according to research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on behalf of Deloitte, the business advisory firm.
Newswire – TUC: The government's refusal to change the interest rate on student loans from the retail prices index (RPI) to the consumer prices index (CPI) - despite already doing so for key benefits, tax thresholds and public sector pensions - will leave graduates thousands of pounds deeper in debt, the TUC has warned.
While some graduates are currently paying back their student loans at 1.5% due to historically low Bank of England interest rates, RPI is the most common method for calculating the interest rate on student loans - and the only method for those taking out loans before 1998.
The use of RPI will be even more costly for students yet to go to university as the Education Bill currently going through Parliament includes a clause allowing ministers to charge up to commercial loan rates (RPI plus 3%) for future student loans.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DH: The Department of Health has confirmed continued financial support for 4 local authority social care PFI projects in England. The projects to receive PFI credits are based in Leeds, Hull, Sandwell and Hammersmith. They will all provide community social care & health facilities for vulnerable people.
The successful projects include a centre offering general, respite & dementia care for older people and those with learning or mental disabilities, along with a leisure centre giving priority to disabled adults.
NE: Natural England recently announced the launch of a new approach to responding to planning consultations, which offers ‘a more consistent, quick & efficient service to their customers’. Under the new system, Natural England handles the planning consultations it receives via a central email address, replacing the old postal application system directed to local offices.
In making their initial application to Natural England, customers are also asked to specify which aspect of their proposal they are seeking NE’s advice on – as well as the timetable they are working to and the sites the case relates to. This information will help ensure that cases are dealt with as efficiently as possible.
CLG: Communities Secretary, Mr Pickles, has published a consultation (closes on 30 June 2011) that proposes to ‘scrap the planning approval requirement for changing use from a commercial property to a residential property’, which can be costly & time consuming, so it is easier for developers to turn vacant offices into new homes.
If all the long-term office space currently available was converted it could potentially deliver 250,000 new homes and save just under £140m over 10 years in unnecessary red tape costs.
In addition, Ministers have announced a full review of national planning policy by 2012, and a commitment to reduce regulations on housebuilders, including the introduction of a local standards framework. The Homes and Communities Agency is also examining how the disposal of publicly owned land can be used for housing.
DH: From summer 2011, dentists will be paid for the quality of the treatment they give ‘rather than the number of treatments provided’, Health Minister, Lord Howe announced recently. 62 dental practices have been selected to trial a new dental contract that will help improve outcomes for patients. The trials are being designed to improve the quality of patient care and increase access to NHS dental services, with the added objective of improving the oral health of children.
The new contract will be based around capitation, registration & quality. This means that dentists will be rewarded for the quality of care they deliver for patients rather than the number of treatments carried out.
DfE: 162 schools have become Academies this month and a further 473 are in the pipeline. Until now only schools which Ofsted judged Outstanding or Good with Outstanding features have been allowed to apply to convert in their own right. Other schools have had to apply as part of wider chains, working with strong schools.
However, many other mainstream & special schools have said they should be allowed to become stand-alone Academies. The Government will now consider applications from any school, including special schools that can make a compelling case for Academy status.
You can download a new guide for schools, which includes testimony from heads about the process & benefits of becoming an Academy.
DECC: At a recent meeting in the United Arab Emirates, Ministers at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) endorsed recommendations (see press release for list) from the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) Action Group chaired by Australia & the UK.
Member nations of the CEM collectively represent 80% of the world's energy consumption and over 90% of the world's clean energy investment. The CEM has 11 agreed initiatives to progress its work. The UK will host the third meeting of CEM (in London) in the spring 2012.
CLG: Fire Minister, Bob Neill, has set out how ‘local decision making & restoring a focus on local communities will be at the heart of Fire and Rescue Service policy’ as the Government published its response to the sector's Fire Futures Reports.
The Fire Futures Review, at the invitation of central Government, gave those working within the F&R sector an opportunity to identify ideas for their future. This resulted in 4 reports being published in December 2010, looking into the role, efficiency & accountability of the Fire & Rescue Service in England. The Government will shortly begin to develop & consult with the sector on a new National Framework to be in place for 2012.
DH: A response to a series of recommendations made by the PM Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwiferyhas been published by Health Minister Anne Milton. Frontline Care: The report of the Prime Minister’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in England was commissioned by the previous administration & published on 2 March 2010.
NICE: NICE has launched a consultation on its draft quality standard for the management of patients with early, locally advanced & advanced breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in England and around 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives.
The draft standard has 13 statements to help improve care for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It is available on the NICE website for consultation (until 5.00pm on 4 May 2011), which allows stakeholders to comment & help identify which statements are most important to support service improvement.
DfE: The Government has launched a review of cultural education, which will look at how children can experience a wide variety of high quality cultural experiences, both inside & outside of school. There is an open invitation to anyone who wants to contribute to the consultation & feed into his review (closes on 20 May 2011).
Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, said: “Every child should be exposed to rich cultural opportunities. Too often, this is a privilege reserved for the wealthy few. This must change. ……. This important review will play a key role in ensuring that children from all backgrounds can reap the benefits of our culture and heritage”.
ScotGov: A consultation paper on reforming parts of the criminal justice system in Scotland has been launched by Lord Carloway (closes on 3 June 2011). He was commissioned to conduct a review by Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, after the UK Supreme Court's judgement in Cadder v HMA in October 2010.
This review covers the law & practice relating to ‘the detention & questioning of suspects, their access to legal advice and how to ensure that the police, legal professions and courts can operate effectively and in a way that safeguards the rights of all involved’.
The consultation poses questions about core elements of the system as it currently stands. It seeks views on, among other things, whether the current system of detention & arrest could be replaced, the arrangements for suspects to be given legal advice, the powers & rules for police questioning and whether the requirement for corroboration should continue. It will help Lord Carloway prepare a report with recommendations for publication in Autumn 2011.
HO: Less than 1 month left (closes on 11 May 2011) for contributions on proposals to help more disabled people to access elected office. Your views are needed on new plans which include funding, mentoring & training to help disabled people overcome the barriers they face. The government wants to hear from people across the community, including disabled people and those involved in the political process at all levels.
EU News: Public consultations on the creation of the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps are drawing to a close (3 May 2011). The outcome of the consultations will serve as a building block in the Corps's construction, for which a legislative proposal will be presented in 2012. The EU is committed to setting-up the EVHA Corps in order to empower Europeans to contribute practically to the EU's humanitarian work.
DfE: Parents, teachers, pupils & other interested members of the public have just a couple of days left (closes on Thursday 14 April 2011) to tell the Government & curriculum experts what should be taught in our schools. By answering the questions in the Call for Evidence, people will have the chance to shape the new National Curriculum for primary & secondary schools in England.
Newswire – CAB: Citizens Advice has responded to Law Commission consultation (closes on 12 July 2011) which includes recommendations for new laws regarding ‘civil recovery’. Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said: “We warmly welcome proposals, published today by the Law Commission, which seek to create a new law under which individuals can bring their own legal action against companies where they have been the victim of unfair commercial practice”.
NA: The National Archives has launched a new search facility to provide easier access to their records. The Discovery service has been released in 'beta', or test, form, and they are keen to get your feedback on how it can be improved. The new service enables you to filter search results by subject, date and series origin, as well as introducing map-based searching.
NICE: NICE is currently developing a clinical guideline on the longer-term care of adults, children & young people who self-harm. As part of this process, draft recommendations have been published on the NICE website for public consultation (closes on 7 June 2011).
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HSE: The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is concerned that 'health & safety' will be trotted out as an unfounded excuse not to hold local celebrations for the Royal Wedding and has published new information on its website setting the record straight, along with a tongue-in-cheek cartoon lampooning those who would stand in the way of communities celebrating together – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
PwC: A new ecosystem valuation guide will help business to ‘explicitly account for the full value of ecosystem impacts and inputs’. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) developed the guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV) to provide a framework which would improve business understanding of the benefits & value of ecosystem services like fresh water, food, fibre and natural hazard protection.
Businesses are given a step by step guide to examine a range of issues including:
* The significance of environmental risks both from & to their operations
* What stakeholders should be compensated & at what price
* The potential revenue opportunities from emerging environmental markets such as carbon, water & biodiversity
* The potential impact of regulatory changes on the availability of natural resources such as land and water
SE: Sport England has recently launched The Community Sport Asset Transfer Toolkit to help community sports clubs across England tackle the complex world of asset transfer. Asset transfer involves the shifting of the ownership of land or buildings from government organisations to community groups such as local sports clubs & trusts, giving them financial stability & independence.
SE’s bespoke, interactive web based tool aims to provide clubs with a step by step guide through each stage of the asset transfer process.
General Reports and Other Publications
nef: Independent analysis from think-tank nef (the new economics foundation) shows that ‘AV would increase the power of the average voter, but not eradicate inequalities in the UK voting system’. Just weeks before the UK votes on whether to change its parliamentary electoral system from First Past the Post (FPtP) to the Alternative Vote (AV), it reveals how the influence of voters would change under the proposed AV system.
A Voter Power Index website allows visitors to find their voter power by postcode and display a ranking of the UK’s constituencies.
DfE: Sebastian James, Group Operations Director at Dixons Retail plc, has published his independent Education Capital Review.
ippr: The government should help establish a comparison website for nannies & nurseries, according to a new report from ippr. The institute for public policy research says parents should be able to go online and provide ratings, feedback & user satisfaction levels for other parents to find the best local childcare providers. ippr’s research shows that parents trust other parents and want a single point of information for advice on childcare services in their local areas.
There is already a ratings site for the NHS (NHS Choices) that allows patients to rate doctors’ surgeries, dentists & hospitals. ippr wants a similar national site for parents to use to rate, compare & comment on nurseries, nannies and other childcare providers to build on the popularity of price comparison websites, open-access Ofsted ratings and parenting web-sites like NetMums and MumsNet that require users to be registered.
Newswire – LGA: The average council has to report 43,000 different pieces of information (ticking an estimated 12.6m boxes) a year to meet the bureaucratic demands of central Government, the Local Government Association has revealed. The LGA is calling for this time consuming & costly burden to be slashed. It is estimated that on average it costs each council £1.8m each year in staff time and other resources to collate & report this information.
Press release & links ~ The Single Data List and Local Authority Data Burden
Newswire – LGA: The cost of buying & throwing away good food & drink reached £13.7bn last year, new analysis by the Local Government Association has revealed. The analysis, which combined the purchasing price of food which wasn’t eaten with the cost to council tax-payers of sending it to landfill, reveals that households paid an estimated £520 each for uneaten food over the past 12 months.
Town hall leaders want to see multi-buy deals, which encourage people to take more food than they need, replaced by discounts on individual products, which offer customers the same value without incentivising over-buying.
Ofsted: An Ofsted report, ‘Girls’ career aspirations’, has found that some girls are receiving weak careers education, which is making it difficult for them to make properly informed choices about courses & careers. In most of the schools visited, not enough was being done to promote the confidence, drive & ambition of girls to take risks in challenging vocational stereotypes.
Through discussions, inspectors found that girls aged 11 to 14 years had limited knowledge & understanding of how choices about courses & careers influenced pay & progression.
Cebr: Biggest peacetime squeeze on household disposable incomes since 1921 – updated Cebr forecasts show real household disposable incomes down 2.0% in 2011.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The EU Sustainable Energy Week (11 to 15 April 2011), which this year celebrates its fifth edition, is the key annual event of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign, which showcases activities dedicated to energy efficiency & renewable energy solutions.
It aims to demonstrate to businesses, decision-makers and the wider public that sustainable energy technologies are viable, cost-effective and good for the environment & our economy. Through a series of ‘happenings’ the EUSEW puts the emphasis on latest innovations in smart energy solutions and renewable energy technologies.
EU News: The European arrest warrant provides a tool for extraditing people suspected of an offence from one EU country to another, so that criminals have no hiding place in Europe. While there are many successes, EU Member States can improve how the system – which is based on mutual confidence between national judicial systems – operates, the European Commission found in a report released this week.
Member States should use the European arrest warrant with due regard to fundamental rights and the actual need for extradition in each case. The Commission is tackling some of these issues by helping to guarantee fair trials through minimum EU standards for the rights of people suspected or accused of a crime.
The EU has already adopted legislation on the right to interpretation & translation in criminal proceedings and proposed common rules to guarantee suspects are informed of their rights.
EU News: The European Commission has announced a series of measures to clarify & strengthen the enforcement of passenger rights across Europe. European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport, announced the measures, as the EC published 2 Communications providing a detailed assessment of the:
* first 6 years of application of the regulations on air passenger rights
* rights for people with reduced mobility
He also announced his intention to launch this year an impact assessment and public consultation with a view to the Commission adopting proposals for a revision of Regulation 261 on Air Passenger Rights in 2012.
EU News: Public consultations on the creation of the European Voluntary Humanitarian Corps are drawing to a close (3 May 2011) – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
BIS: A long-term strategy aimed at helping manufacturers of commercial vehicles & construction equipment move to low carbon solutionshas been published. The roadmap is the first to be published in Europe with this level of detail & outlines the drivers & timescales of technology development across the sector from delivery vans to bulldozers. These technologies include hybridisation, more efficient powertrains and alternative fuels.
The roadmap is the work of the joint industry/government Automotive Council and will be a useful tool in determining research priorities as well as helping vehicle manufacturers & the supply chain draft long-term business plans.
BIS: The first round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) will see an expanded amount of public investment support 50 bids by companies & partnerships who demonstrated how they would create jobs and a high level of private sector-led sustainable economic growth in their local communities over the coming years.
The Government expects over 27,000 jobs to be directly created & safeguarded, with close to a further 100,000 jobs in associated supply chains and local economies. The second round of the fund has opened to bids with a closing date of noon on 1 July 2011. This round will aim to allocate the remainder of the fund (nearly £1bn).
To promote this round of the fund and encourage quality bids that meet the objectives & criteria, there will be a series of road shows across England to speak with businesses & organisations with an interest in submitting a bid to advise them on all aspects of the fund. A schedule of the road shows will be available in due course.
STFC: Bug battling firm Byotrol, which researched & developed its revolutionary hygiene technology at STFC's Innovations Technology Centre (I-TAC), has worked with McBrides, Europe's leading provider of Private Label Household products, to launch a ground-breaking cleaning spray for Tesco.
Byotrol's patented technology, which is used in wipes, sprays & mousses to combat the spread of viruses & superbugs, including MRSA, is the main bacteria-killing ingredient in Tesco's own-brand multi-surface spray. In contrast to old technologies Byotrol contains no alcohol or bleach so is gentler on skin & the environment and is significantly longer lasting than traditional (but harsher) cleaning products currently on the market.
Byotrol has also created a global first in the world of hygiene; an alcohol-free hand wash that is more effective than the current NHS standard alcohol cleaner and is also Halal certified.
DH: Healthcare staff in prisons will be better placed to tackle the challenging health needs of prisoners as a result of a national prison healthcare IT system now installed in all prisons & young offender institutions across England.
Prisoners will also benefit from improved continuity of care as they move between prisons, with medical records immediately & securely transferred from one prison to another. And staff are having to spend less time on administrative tasks – freeing up their time to concentrate on patient care.
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