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In the News

Due to the upcoming Bank Holiday, the next newsletter will be published on Wednesday 01 June 2011

Defra:  We need to plan & prepare for both too much and too little rain - This Spring’s intense dry spell is a sign of things to come and water companies need to be prepared to avoid water shortages, Environment Minister Lord Henley warned recently. 

The recent dry weather which saw just 24% of the average rainfall for April is likely to become a more frequent occurrence in the future due to the impacts of climate change.  Therefore long term planning is needed to ensure sufficient water is available during hotter, drier summers.

Lord Henley issued the warning as Defra published reports from each water utility company which identify the risks that climate change will pose to their service, and what actions they are taking to address them.  

It follows a drought summit called by Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman on Monday with water companies, farming groups and environmental organisations to make sure the country is prepared for the possibility of drought conditions following the long dry spell.
Press release ~ May 2011 – Departmental Adaptation Plan Updates ~ Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation – ensuring services in an uncertain future ~ EA: Latest Drought Management Briefing ~ Assessing Water Risk: A Practical Approach for Financial Institutions ~ BSA: Water shortages in the UK ~ Droughts and water shortage - The English case ~ EA: Climate change & water resources ~ Waterwise: Reducing Water Wastage in the UK ~ BGS: Responding to potential water shortages ~ WWF Briefing ~ Riverside Tails ~ Anna Walker’s independent review of water charging & meteringOfwat - International comparisons - water efficiency ~ Water Saving Group ~ Consumer Council for Water ~ Water UK ~ Foresight: Global Environmental Migration ~ Foresight: Gobal Food and Farming Futures ~ Foresight: Land Use Futures

JRF:  Could their poverty at least partly just be a reflection of how long some of them have lived in this country? - A report released recently by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows there is a clear link between poverty & ethnicity in the UK.

The review, Poverty and Ethnicity: A Review of Evidence, found that in areas such as employment, care, and where you live, people from many ethnic minority groups do proportionally worse than White British people.

The research identified 3 areas of particular concern:
* Employment: People from many ethnic minorities are proportionately less likely to enter employment, be paid equal salaries, and be promoted, than their White British counterparts, meaning it is harder for them to escape poverty
* Location: Where you live has a huge impact on how likely you are to escape poverty
* Care: Changing demographics mean that caring responsibilities are going to alter in the near future.  A study in Birmingham suggested that by 2026, 1 in 4 people over 65 will be from minority ethnic groups (the current figure is 1 in 8).  This could have big implications for care services providers

Following the findings of this review, the JRF is launching a £1.3m programme on poverty & ethnicity in the UK.  Over the next 5 years it will investigate the reasons for the links between poverty & ethnicity in the areas identified above.
TKFIs the government listening? - The King’s Fund has called for significant changes to the government’s health reforms to enable the NHS to provide a ‘new model’ of care that meets the challenges of the future. In its response to the government’s listening exercise on the Health and Social Care Bill, the Fund says it supports the need for reform, but argues that it must be based on a clear diagnosis of NHS performance and the challenges it faces.

It calls for the NHS to be re-orientated to deliver a new model of ‘integrated’ care, based on stronger collaboration between health professionals and more effective co-ordination of services.  

The response argues that integrated care offers the best prospect of improving services for patients and addressing the key challenge facing the NHS – demographic change and the increasing number of people with long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and dementia.

It draws on evidence from the NHS and the United States showing that integrated care delivers better outcomes for patients with long-term conditions and improves the quality of specialist services such as cardiac, cancer and stroke care.
Newswire – HPA All right so far - The Health Protection Agency, Environment Agency and Northern Ireland Environment Agency monitoring stations have reported further minute traces of radiation associated with events at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan.  Overall, the levels are lower than those observed in the previous update published on May 5.

The levels being detected mean there is no risk to public health in the United Kingdom from the environmental concentrations resulting from the release of radioactive material at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  The monitoring equipment is extremely sensitive and can pick up trace levels well below any potential risk to human health.
Press release & links
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive

General News

HA: Work to resurface an eastbound section of the M4 Second Severn Crossing will start on 9 June 2011 and continue for approximately 5 weeks. To carry out this work safely and as quickly as possible, it will be necessary to close 2 of the 3 lanes on the affected stretch of the crossing and reduce the speed limit to 50mph.  Work will take place round the clock.
The Highways Agency strongly recommends that road users follow advance signing and Variable Message Signs which will advise traffic to use a clearly signed version via the M48 Severn Bridge during busy times.  This will provide an additional two lanes of network capacity with a 70mph speed limit.
TfL:   The Mayor of London's war against unlicensed minicabs has resulted in 1,300 arrests over the last 12 months in a crackdown on touting & other cab-related offences during 2010/11. The latest figures show the success of the ongoing Safer Travel at Night (STaN) initiative, a partnership between the Mayor, Transport for London (TfL), Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the City of London Police (CoLP), who are working together to make travelling in London safer at night.
STaN aims to reduce the number of cab-related sexual offences by raising awareness of the dangers of using unbooked minicabs, also known as touts and illegal cabs, and by using targeted police and enforcement activity to identify, disrupt and deter illegal cab activity.
LSN: The Learning & Skills Network is proud to be delivering a public speaking project for young people with support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.  This project aims to develop innovative & replicable methodologies, resources and an accredited qualification, for widening access to public speaking in the context of real-world active citizenship activities.
The project intends to provide opportunities for low/under-achieving learners in the 16-19 age group, helping to develop relevant speaking & listening skills and to experience a sense of empowerment & increased self esteem.
EA: The Environment Agency has been breeding native crayfish at its fish hatchery near Brecon.  Agency experts are also searching the country for suitable sites to release them – where they are safe from American crayfish and human disturbance.
American signal crayfish not only drive out native white clawed crayfish as they compete for food & habitat, but also carry a water-borne fungus which is fatal to our native species.  It is predicted that white clawed crayfish could become extinct in the UK within decades if efforts are not made to protect them.
Newswire – TUC: The growth of homeworking stalled during the recent recession, the TUC says in a new analysis of official figures to mark National Work From Home Day (last Friday), which was organised by Work Wise UK. High unemployment and job insecurity during the recession is likely to have made staff more reluctant to ask to work from home, says the TUC.
FSASnax 4 U has withdrawn all packs of its Chicken Tikka Drumsticks, and Chicken Biryani & Rice Ready Meal, because the 2 products were made on & supplied by an unapproved premises.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Withdrawal Information Notice.
FSA: All packs of these Booja Booja chocolate truffles have been withdrawn because they might contain milk: Hazlenut Crunch, Around Midnight Espresso, Ginger Wine, Cognac Banana, Champagne, Gourmet Selection and Luxury Gift Box.  These 7 products are a possible health risk to anyone with an allergy to, or intolerance of, milk.  The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
STFC: A storm in the atmosphere of the planet Saturn, that happens only about once every 30 years, has been captured in more detail than has ever been possible before.  The European Southern Observatory (ESO's) Very Large Telescope (VLT) has teamed up with NASA's Cassini spacecraft to study the dramatic planet-wide disturbance that occurs about once every Saturn year (about 30 Earth years).  The results are in the journal Science (19 May 2011).

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DfT: The A1 north of Newcastle to the Scottish border has been made a route of strategic national importance following a consultation, Regional & Local Transport Minister Norman Baker announced this week.  The move sees approximately 65 miles of the A1 join a key list of nationally important roads. It is part of the Government's move to ensure the economic importance of routes from England to the capital cities of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are properly recognised.
A number of roads linking Bootle with Twelve Quays Ferry Terminal in Birkenhead, Merseyside, will also become a route of strategic national importance.  This is because it is the main passenger & freight ferry terminal for traffic travelling between Liverpool & Belfast.
WAG: An initiative which prevents drug related deaths will be rolled out across Wales, Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Local Government & Communities announced last week. The Take Home Naloxone Rescue Scheme offers free Naloxone kits to all drug users at risk of overdose.
The announcement comes on the day of a conference organised by the Swansea Drugs Project about the successful use of heroin antidote, Naloxone, in preventing a drugs overdose. The decision follows a successful evaluation of the pilots carried out over the last two years in a number of areas in Wales.
Newswire – CWDC: The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) social work programme will transfer to DfE by April 2012.
MoD: Members of the Armed Forces will from now on be given top priority for housing help Housing Minister, Grant Shapps has said. The move follows a Military Covenant Housing Summit chaired by the Housing Minister on Monday, and means that serving members of the Armed Forces, as well as those recently retired, will be able to benefit from the FirstBuy Scheme, providing £400m to help 10,000 families across the country get on the property ladder over the next 2 years.
The Minister has also signalled that the Government will ensure that all low-cost home ownership schemes will now routinely place members of the Armed Forces at the top of their priority lists and that government housing agents will be instructed to go out & actively recruit military personnel for such schemes.
BIS: The Business Secretary set out this week his vision for the Green Investment Bank (GIB) as a new & enduring institution to complement existing green policies.  Vince Cable published a progress report on the GIB setting out more detail on its governance & business model.
The GIB’s mission will be to accelerate private sector investment in the UK’s transition to a green economy.  It will play a vital role in addressing market failures which are holding back private sector investment. Sectors likely to be eligible for intervention initially include offshore wind, non-domestic energy efficiency and waste. Work is ongoing to explore other sectors which will change over time.


HEFCE: A draft equality scheme for HEFCE is being consulted on.  Views on whether their approach to equality & diversity is appropriate are welcomed.  The deadline for responses is 29 July 2011.  The consultation identifies the challenges facing both HEFCE and the sector with regard to equality & diversity, such as concerns over the attainment of BME students and the gender balance at different grades of HEFCE staff.
DWP: The Löfstedt Review into health & safety legislation, announced by the Minister for Employment in March 2011, has issued a call for evidence, inviting views from all interested parties on the scope for reducing the burden of health & safety regulation on UK businesses, whilst maintaining health & safety outcomes.
As set out in the finalised Terms of Reference, also published last week, the review will consider the opportunity for combining, simplifying or reducing the approximately 200 statutory instruments that are owned by the Health & Safety Executive.  The deadline for providing evidence to the review is 29 July 2011.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

online tool has been launched to let you know if you could work with your neighbours to do just that. The Right to Manage Assessment Tool is a simple online questionnaire, which breaks down the eligibility criteria into a series of yes-no questions.
EHRC: Recently the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published guidance that explains how human rights law can help Britain's social housing providers deliver the best possible service to tenantsHuman Rights at Home: guidance for social housing providers gives practical advice on how the Human Rights Act relates to issues including allocation of housing, the terms of tenancy agreements, repairs & maintenance, and anti-social behaviour.
The guidance makes it clear that this law does not give people a right to housing or prevent landlords from taking proportionate action if tenants do not pay their rent or engage in anti-social behaviour.
IPCC: The Independent Police Complaints Commission has welcomed a ministerial statement that police pursuit guidelines have now been given the force of law.  IPCC Commissioner, Tom Davies, who has responsibility for police pursuits, said: "The IPCC conducted a detailed research analysis into police pursuits, published in 2007, which made a major contribution into these revised pursuit guidelines."

General Reports and Other Publications

EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently issued its first response to the government’s consultation on the Commission's powers & duties. The Commission warns that some of the proposed changes are likely to lead to greater uncertainty and increased costs for public bodies & businesses; more litigation & less conciliation in discrimination cases; and the undermining of the government's own new equality strategy.
EHEnglish Heritage has launched The National Heritage List for England, a significant milestone towards achieving better understanding & protection for heritage in this country by opening up information which until now has not been easily accessible to the public.
The National Heritage List for England is a new online database of the country's 400,000 listed buildings, registered parks, gardens & battlefields, protected shipwrecks and scheduled monuments.  For the first time ever, separate registers and lists for different types of heritage are combined in one and the public can now go online to search for heritage by postcode, by date, by grade or by any category from listed building to listed lamp-post, from scheduled coal mines to castles.
IISS: In its latest Strategic Comment, the International Institute for Strategic Studies asks; Could West Africa follow Mexico's path into drugs and gang-fuelled violence?  Countries such as Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Ghana, Benin and Nigeria have emerged as major transhipment points for the global trade in cocaine & heroin. 
Press release & links
PC&PE: The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, recently said: "The Department of Health needs to be clear how, when trusts are independent of its control, it will achieve the essential savings it should enjoy from the joint, bulk buying of medical supplies and other consumables in NHS hospitals.

When resources are so tight it is simply unacceptable that money is being wasted by paying more than necessary on everyday products, from paper to surgical gloves. The Department should specifically spell out how, in the new NHS landscape in which Foundation Trusts act independently, trusts will be motivated to deliver collectively the £1.2 billion savings which could be secured - and who will be accountable”.
PC&PE: In a report released recently on the BBC’s Licence Fee Settlement and Annual Report, the Culture Media & Sport Committee says that the main outcomes of the BBC Trust’s strategic review "do not move the BBC on" to the extent required by current circumstances, and that the incoming Chairman will have "much to get grips with".
PC&PE‘The Implications of Cuts to the BBC World Service’ report findings were the subject of a Commons Debate last week.  This was the first debate in the House on a substantive motion by a departmental select committee relating to a major issue of public concern since the introduction of the new arrangements for backbench business.
The debate took place in the Chamber on Thursday 19 May.  The debate focused on the findings of a report by the Foreign Affairs Committee into the cuts to the BBC World Service imposed as part of the Government's Spending Review.
PXConditions on benefit claimants should be increased so that they have to spend more time each week looking for a job, says a new report from think tank Policy Exchange.  The study recommends that current work search requirements should be expanded to make sure that claimants can stay in - or get into - the habits of a normal working lifestyle.  According to research from the Department for Work and Pensions, the average jobseeker currently spends just 1 hour a day looking for work.
The report - No rights without responsibility: rebalancing the welfare state - also proposes ways to start reintroducing the contributory principle into the benefit system.  This would mean those who have paid in National Insurance Contributions for longer would get treated more generously than those who have not.
CH: Within a short time, India has evolved from a country with a marginal role to a key participant in global decision-making.  But many agree that India's ability to play a greater global role would evolve more naturally were the country's domestic development challenges met.
A new Chatham House report, For the Global Good: India's Developing International Role, explores India's growing influence on international affairs, trade & investments, security & democracy, and the environment, including climate change.
NLGN: In a new research paper, the NLGN warns that the decision to increase the cost to councils of borrowing from government could threaten local authorities’ ability to boost local economic growth. Localism think tank The New Local Government Network (NLGN) also suggests that much-needed investment in community development & regeneration could suffer unless councils are able to access vital investment through new sources of borrowing.
NLGN will lead a high-level taskforce consisting of local government & financial sector leaders to map out a new capital financing landscape for councils.  The group will look for new means to ensure that councils can source the necessary investment to help deliver the infrastructure required for local economic growth as well as the provision of essential social infrastructure such as high-quality schools and housing.
CfSJ: Britain is failing to harness the power of sport to divert young people from a life of anti-social behaviour & crime, according to a new report from the Centre for Social Justice published this week.  Despite spending nearly £500m over 4 years on encouraging more people to play sport, ministers are failing to reach thousands of disaffected & underprivileged youths.
Participation targets in the general population have been badly missed and at classroom level results have been weakest among schools with high proportions of poor pupils or situated in run-down areas.
CIPD: A new analysis of the economics of employment regulation this week concludes that the knee-jerk opposition of much of the business lobby to many employment rights – for example their opposition to last week’s (Monday 16 May) government consultation paper on Modern Workplaces, which proposed changes to parental leave entitlements and extension of the right to flexible working to all employees – ‘betrays an underlying bias against employment regulation, which at times flies in the face of economic evidence’.

The analysis comes in - The economic rights and wrongs of employment regulation– a new Work Horizons report published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Legislation / Legal

HO: From next Monday, evidence submitted after a visa application has been made will not be consideredUK Border Agency statistics show that around two-thirds of appeals allowed by immigration judges are due to late evidence being submitted. The rules change is designed to end unnecessary appeals and help make sure that applications are right first time. It will apply to all applicants applying from within the UK through the points-based system.
BIS: A new independent body to adjudicate between suppliers & retailers and protect against unfair practices moved a step closer this week.  Consumer Minister, Edward Davey, published the draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill and invited pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill by Parliament.
The Bill seeks to establish an adjudicator to monitor & enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice who will be able toact as arbitrator in disputes between retailers & their direct suppliersand start investigations about potential breaches of the Code based on complaints from suppliers and/or information in the public domain.
BIS: The Postal Services Bill has this week completed its passage through the House of Lords.  Amendments made by the Government in the Lords will now be considered by the House of Commons on 9 June 2011.  The consideration session in the Commons is the final stage before Royal Assent.  The requirements of the universal postal service – collection & delivery of post 6 days a week at uniform, affordable prices are written into the Bill.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU NewsCadmium in jewellery, plastics and brazing sticks will be banned in the EU from December 2011.  High levels of the harmful substance cadmium have been found in some jewellery articles, especially in imported imitation jewellery.  Consumers including children risked being exposed to cadmium through skin contact or through licking.

The new legislation prohibits the use of cadmium in all types of jewellery products, except for antiques.  

The ban also covers cadmium in all plastics & brazing sticks, which are used to join dissimilar materials as fumes that are released during this process are highly dangerous if inhaled.
EU News: The launch of the first 2 operational satellites of the EU's global navigation satellite system will take place on 20 October 2011, the European Commission announced this week.  

This is just the first of a series of launches due to take off from Europe's Space Port in Kourou, French Guiana.  The launch of the Galileo satellites at an altitude of 23.600km will lead to the provision of initial satellite navigation services in 2014.  Successive launches will complete the constellation by 2019.
FSA: The European Commission is organising a selection procedure to replace 7 members of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Management Board whose mandates will expire on 30 June 2012. EFSA is inviting interested parties to apply for the posts.
EU NewsNew EU telecoms rules to promote a more competitive telecoms sector & better services for customers are due to be implemented in national law by 25th May 2011 (see IP/11/622).  This MEMO explains how the new rules will ensure more consistent and effective regulation of competition in EU telecoms markets.
EU News: Every year in Europe, soils covering an area larger than the city of Berlin are lost to urban sprawl and transport infrastructure.  This unsustainable trend threatens the availability of fertile soils and groundwater reservoirs for future generations.  

A new report made public by the European Commission recommends a three-tiered approach focused on limiting the progression of soil sealing, mitigating its effects and compensating valuable soil losses by action in other areas.
STFCBritish companies are being urged to bid for a share of a billion Euros that are available in contracts on what will be the biggest optical & infrared telescope in the world - the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) – See ‘Industry News’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIG: Wildlife projects are set to create a buzz as 13 groups share in good cause funding of more than £100,000 this week. The funding comes from the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Wildlife programme, which aims to bring communities together to improve or protect the natural environment by raising awareness of threatened wildlife or places.
CRUKCancer Research UK scientists have discovered that stopping prostate cancer cells from ‘bulking up’ with nutrients reduces the spread of the disease & tumour size, according to research published today in EMBO Journal.
TPT: Thousands of young people from the UK’s poorest families believe they will achieve 'few' or 'none' of their goals in life, warns 'Broke, not broken', a new report by The Prince’s Trust and RBS. The report found that 26% of those from deprived homes believe that “few” or “none” of their career goals are achievable, compared to just 7% of those from affluent families.
The research, which highlights a clear aspiration gap between the UK’s richest & poorest young people, shows how 26% from poor homes feel that “people like them don’t succeed in life”.  They are 3 times as likely to believe they will ‘end up on benefits for at least part of their life’ and almost 4 times as likely to think they will “end up in a dead-end job”.
BHFTreating diseases brought on by poor diet costs the NHS £5.8bn, almost as much as it costs to treat smoking & alcohol related diseases combined. A study, which the British Heart Foundation funded, found that smoking & alcohol related diseases accounted for £3.3bn each.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC: Plumbers, gas fitters & heating engineers have less than a week left to register for a special tax plan to put right their tax affairs. Once the chance to register expires on 31 May 2011, HM Revenue & Customs will use the information held on people working in the plumbing industry to begin an immediate clampdown on those who have chosen not to come forward and take advantage of the Plumbers Tax Safe Plan (PTSP).

Industry News

Defra: A trial into new flood management techniques which use nature to control flood water is to receive further funding from Defra. The Pickering project in North Yorkshire will receive £235,000 to continue innovative flood protection work.
This pioneering project makes the best use of the natural environment surrounding the town to store, divert & slow the flow of excess water rather than relying on traditional defences.  The approach includes planting more trees, restoring wetlands, building natural dams in streams and reducing water runoff from fields.  These techniques ultimately aim to help reduce the amount of flood water reaching the town during periods of heavy rainfall.
DECC: Architects, designers, engineers & students of these disciplines are being challenged to rethink one of the most crucial but controversial features of modern Britain: the electricity pylon. A new competition has been launched, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and National Grid, that calls for designs for a new generation of pylon
The challenge is to design a pylon that has the potential to deliver for future generations, whilst balancing the needs of local communities and preserving the beauty of the countryside. A prize fund of £10,000 will be shared amongst the winning candidates and National Grid will give consideration to developing the winning design for use in future projects. 
LDA: The Metropolitan Police Service has announced that it will use CompeteForto procure goods & services above £500 & under £50,000.  The online procurement tool, which was created for the London 2012 Games, will increase the accessibility & transparency of the Met’s contracts and give suppliers the opportunity to bid for work with other government supply chains.
CompeteFor advertises direct contracts with public sector buyers, such as the Metropolitan Police, and opens up thousands of private sector sub-contracts to small businesses. The service was developed by the London Development Agency & the London Business Network and is supported by London 2012. Any business, across the UK, can register on CompeteFor.  Registration is free and only needs to be done once to gain access to thousands of contract opportunities.
STFCBritish companies are being urged to bid for a share of a billion Euros that are available in contracts on what will be the biggest optical & infrared telescope in the world - the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).
A special event was held in London (19 May 2011) where officials from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) briefed companies on what they need to do to get involved.  ESO has a billion Euros to spend on contracts with construction at Cerro Armazones in Chile due to begin next year and completion due early in the next decade.

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