In the News
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The next WGPlus newsletter will be published on 27/28 June 2011.
IFS: The better off can cut back on expensive luxuries, but for the poor that is often not an option - New research undertaken at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and funded by Consumer Focus reveals:
* Poorer households have experienced higher inflation on average than richer households over the past decade
* The poorest 20% of households faced an average annual inflation rate of 4.3% between 2008 & 2010, whilst the richest fifth experienced a rate of just 2.7% a year over the same period.
* Pensioners (& in particular those dependant on state benefits) experienced higher rates of inflation than non-pensioners
* Price increases in gas, electricity & food have hit poorer households harder on average
HO: The problem is that they are just the ‘tip of an iceberg’ - Some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, who are now building new lives in the UK, last week met immigration minister, Damian Green, and spoke to him about their experiences, ahead of Refugee Week. Mr Green travelled to a project in Sheffield to learn more about the lives of the more than 3,300 people safely settled across the country through the Gateway Protection Programme (GPP), since it began in 2002.
The programme is run by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It brings up to 750 particularly vulnerable refugees to the UK every year from refugee camps & urban areas around the world. Mr Green met refugees including Esther Freeman, a Liberian who had been living in a refugee camp in Guinea for 20 years until, in 2004, she came to Sheffield as part of the first intake of Gateway refugees.
Refugee Week, which this year runs from 20 – 26 June 2011, is a UK-wide programme of events celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK.
JRF: They may not ‘listen’ to your advice, but they often copy your bad habits - A major survey of early teen drinking patterns in England finds that drinking escalates to a worrying extent during these years.
The research, conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, also finds that family & friends have a strong influence on teenagers’ drinking patterns, and are stronger influences than some other factors – such as individual well-being, celebrity figures and the media.
Parents have a particularly strong impact on their children’s behaviour with alcohol. The odds of a teenager getting drunk multiple times is twice as great if they have seen their parents drunk, even if only a few times, as those teenagers who have never seen their parents drunk. Ease of access to alcohol was also an important influencing factor on current drinking and drunkenness.
HMT: Should members of the government lead by example with their own pension scheme? - Speech by The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, The Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP to the IPPR on 17 June 2011, regarding proposed changes to public sector pensions.
WAG: Will the watchdog just ‘bark’ or will it also ‘bite’ hospitals that fail to care? - The Welsh Government will ask the NHS watchdog to undertake targeted spot-checks to ensure dignity in care is at the top of health boards' priorities, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced.
The move is in response to concerns raised by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales in a report published earlier this year. “Dignified Care?” examined whether older people in NHS hospitals in Wales receive care in a dignified and respectful way.
Although the report commended examples of good practice across the NHS, it identified a number of failings and made a number of recommendations to ensure improvement. The Minister pointed to a number of activities already underway to bring about improvements in care, such as the Free to Lead, Free to Care programme which empowers hospital ward sisters &charge nurses to manage their wards.
Public Sector Solutions: Tackling Fraud in Local Government - The National Fraud Authority estimates there is £2.1bn of fraud in local government. This fraud reduces your ability to deliver essential services to those that need it most. Do you know the scale of the problem in your authority, or how to combat it?
Click here to find out how to uncover the scale of fraud in your authority.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
WWF: The decision by Italian voters to comprehensively reject Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s plans to revive the nuclear power industry was welcomed recently by WWF-UK. Partial results show that an overwhelming majority of Italians have voted to throw out a law reviving nuclear energy.
Voter turnout topped 57% - safely above the 50% needed to validate the vote. It is the first time since 1995 that a quorum has been reached. Italy's nuclear power plants were shut down after a similar, 1987, referendum.
HA: Traffic access arrangements for the 2011 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix at Silverstone in Northamptonshire have been announced. The tried & tested arrangements for the Grand Prix on the 8, 9 & 10 July 2011 will be very similar to previous years.
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs is alerting taxpayers to a surge of fake ‘phishing’ emails sent out by fraudsters in the run-up to the tax credits renewal deadline. The email informs the recipient they are due a tax rebate and provides a click-through link to a cloned replica of the HMRC website.
The recipient is asked to provide their credit or debit card details. Fraudsters then try to take money from the account using the details provided. Victims risk having their bank accounts emptied and their personal details sold on to other organised criminal gangs. Since the beginning of April, when the first tax credits renewals forms were sent out to claimants, more than 46,000 phishing emails have been reported by customers.
MoD: Thousands of sick & injured soldiers leave the Army every year and Exercise Roebuck is helping to ease what can be a difficult transition back into civilian life. If getting sick or injured in the Army is an occupational hazard, a question most troops ask is ‘what happens next’?
The Army knows that many still struggle to adapt to life away from their unit as they recover at home and get frustrated with the lack of support, so they set up regional Personnel Recovery Units (PRUs) to manage every step of the road back to health. The Army set up the PRUs on regional lines (there are 11 across Britain), into which sick and ill soldiers are posted
The Army offers leavers a resettlement package to help them start a new life, and, in Malta Barracks, a one-stop-shop invited speakers from SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association), the Royal British Legion and Citizens Advice, as well as financial experts and Army Welfare Officers, to talk on topics ranging from stretching your Army pension & healthy eating, to new careers & CV writing.
MoD: Royal Navy personnel recently joined 2,000 sailors from 13 nations for the world's largest submarine rescue exercise, off the south-eastern tip of Spain. The 10 days of NATO Exercise Bold Monarch witnessed an international effort to bring trapped submariners from 4 boats to the surface.
The exercise is run every 3 years to test the ability of allied teams - including the UK-based NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) - to react to the two most terrifying words in a submariner's vocabulary: submiss and subsunk.
The participation of the Russian Kilo Class boat 'Alrosa' particularly excited organisers and saw some historic link-ups, including the NATO & US rescue vehicles docking with the submarine 114 metres below the surface of the Mediterranean. Planning is already underway for the Bold Monarch (2014), scheduled for Polish waters.
MoD: Staff from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) have joined forces with military colleagues & industry partners to unearth & record centuries-old ancient trees on Defence sites across the country. The enthusiastic Defence estate managers have already hit their 2011 target of recording 1,000 such specimens on Ministry of Defence (MOD) land, as they contribute to the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Hunt (ATH).
EC: Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission and Chief Counting Officer at the recent referendums on the Parliamentary Voting System, and the powers of the Welsh Assembly, has proposed that consideration should be given to introducing greater central coordination of elections, learning from the structure that was in place at those referendums.
The Commission is currently collecting information from voters, campaigners, parties & electoral administrators on the lessons from the 5 May polls and will publish a full report in October 2011.
DfE: The Teaching Agency is a new executive agency that will be responsible for ensuring the supply of high quality teachers & training, and for teacher regulation. It will open in April 2012 and take on some key functions currently carried out by the Training and Development Agency for Schools, General Teaching Council for England, Children’s Workforce Development Council and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency subject to the necessary parliamentary approvals.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Renewable heating will now be cheaper thanks to new support mechanisms to be introduced in Scotland. Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has (in partnership with the UK Government), opted for Scotland to be part of the UK wide Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a scheme that will pay large producers of renewable heating for every unit of energy produced.
Householders will also receive support for the installation of renewable heat technologies such as heat pumps, solar thermal or biomass boilers under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment. The move will help Scotland meet its target to produce 11% of heat from renewables by 2020. Around 3% of Scotland's heat demand came from renewables last year, 3 times the UK rate.
In recognition of concerns raised about the impact of bio-energy developments on the timber sector, the Scottish & UK Governments have also agreed to host a wood processing industry summit in the summer to ensure the sector, which employs more than 500 people in Scotland, continues to make a contribution to Scotland's low carbon economy. With the agreement of the UK Government this would involve the whole of the timber trade, including forestry, sawmill and wood processing.
HMT: Chancellor’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Dinner for Bankers and Merchants of the City of London on 15 June 2011.
Defra: Plans to help people to do the right thing by reducing waste & increase recycling at home, on the move or as part of their business have been unveiled as the Government announced the results of its comprehensive review of waste (2011).
The Anaerobic Digestion strategy and action plan has also been published, which will enable a thriving industry to grow in England over the next few years, delivering new green jobs as well as new green energy.
BIS: Universities Minister David Willetts has given his ‘full support’ to a new taskforce on student finance (Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Communication), to be chaired by Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert.com and former NUS President Wes Streeting.
The independent taskforce will work to combat the myths around the changes to English student finance in 2012 and will seek to reassure potential students about what they can expect when applying for university & beyond.
CLG: A major change to planning policy that will ‘get development back on track & ensure protection for the environment’ has been published by Planning Minister, Greg Clark. The new 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' will ‘get development underway whilst keeping vital environmental protections’.
Publishing information on the intended approach to the presumption ahead of the consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework gives councils, communities and businesses a clear idea of how it will work, and reinforces the message about the importance of getting up-to-date plans in place.
ScotGov: Mandatory screening is being introduced in Scotland as the next step in eradicating the highly infection cattle disease BVD. Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, recently announced that, from 1 December 2011, farmers with breeding cattle herds will be required to screen their herd each year for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). All herds must have had their first test by the end of November 2012.
DWP: New figures released recently show customer error is now costing the taxpayer more than fraud or official error (£1.3bn p.a.). Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, has announced that people who negligently give incorrect information on their claim or who don’t tell the Department quickly about a change in their circumstances will face a new civil penalty.
In the future, claimants on out of work benefits will also have to sign a commitment which will set out their obligations & responsibilities.
ScotGov: Further cuts to Scotland's military personnel or closures of RAF bases would not be justified on either economic or defence grounds, the First Minister said recently. Alex Salmond made the comments in a comprehensive Scottish Government submission to the UK Government Basing Review.
WAG: It has been announced by Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing, Regeneration & Heritage that the Care & Repair movement in Wales is to receive new funding of £1.5m for Independent Living Grants (ILG) to help older people in Wales remain safe & well in their own homes. The £1.5m will be distributed to the 22 Care & Repair agencies in Wales and will be spent on home adaptations such as stair lifts and walk in showers.
ScotGov: Steps to realise the Scottish Broadcasting Commission's vision for a Scottish Digital Network (SDN) have been set out by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs. During a debate at the Scottish Parliament, Fiona Hyslop suggested 3 areas where Holyrood should have more input into power and influence over broadcasting to help deliver quality public service content for the whole of Scotland.
CLG: Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles recently urged faith groups to make use of new powers in the Government's Localism Bill to end their reliance on the goodwill of local authorities alone, and strengthen their arm in playing an active and visible role in society.
Speaking to the Cinnamon Network - a faith-based charities group - he outlined the Government's continued financial support & commitment to faith groups. He acknowledged that faith groups - often engaged in vital work within communities - can face barriers in terms of securing funding from local authorities and endless unnecessary red tape.
NO: The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, who investigates complaints about government bodies that have not been resolved elsewhere, has launched a public consultation (closes on 5 September 2011) on whether complainants should have direct access to her service. Currently, members of the public need a referral from a Member of Parliament (MP) in order to bring their complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Research amongst the general public & those wanting to bring a complaint to the Ombudsman has found that 19% of people surveyed they would be less likely to bring a complaint to the Ombudsman, because of the need to contact an MP first.
OFT: The OFT has published for consultation revised guidance for the debt management industry (closes on 5 September 2011). The guidance update follows a review of compliance in the sector which found, amongst other things, widespread problems with misleading advertising and the quality of advice given in the fee charging sector.
Together with targeted OFT enforcement, the revised guidance is designed to address the issues identified by the review. The overall theme of the guidance is increasing transparency and ensuring that consumers have all the information they need to make an informed decision about the solution most appropriate for them. Where appropriate, the OFT will take enforcement action against businesses failing to adhere to the guidance.
ScotGov: The areas of Scotland most at risk of flooding are to be identified for the first time, as part of a new consultation (closes on Monday 15 August 2011). New guidance is also being published to ensure all agencies involved in dealing with flooding are clear about their roles & responsibilities in delivering sustainable flood management.
Newswire – LC: The Law Commission propose the repeal of some 94 obsolete Acts relating to London and the surrounding areas. These Acts reflect London's social & economic history from Tudor times through to the early 20th century. The repeal provisions will be included in a future Statute Law (Repeals) Bill. The consultation is open to specialists & the general public and it will close on 30 September 2011.
HMT: The Government has published its financial regulation White Paper and draft Bill. These provide further detail on the Government’s proposed reforms to the financial regulatory regime within the UK. Pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill is scheduled to begin shortly. This offers a further opportunity for stakeholders & Parliamentarians to engage with and improve the Bill before its formal introduction to Parliament later this year.
HMT: The Government has published a consultation on its plans to reform the taxation of non-domiciled individuals (“non-domiciles”). It wants to ensure that non-domiciles make a fair tax contribution, as well as encourage them to invest in the UK and simplify the current tax rules for them. The Government does not intend to change the broad principles behind the existing tax system for non-domiciles.
The Government has also published a consultation on its plans for a statutory residence test (SRT). There is currently no full legal definition of tax residence, meaning that the rules are unclear, complicated and seen as subjective. The consultation proposes a framework for the SRT and seeks views on its design & implementation, in order to address these issues. Both consultations close on 9 September 2011.
A summary of responses to both will be published in the autumn. Draft legislation will be published for comment later in 2011 with a view to including final legislation in Finance Bill 2012.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Socitm: Socitm Head of Information Assurance Mark Brett and Socitm member & Westminster CIO David Wilde joined the panel for the latest webinar from UKauthorITy.com now available to view online. The topic under discussion was ‘how organisations can responds to the need to do more with less by fostering innovation, working outside their traditional boundaries and freeing themselves from silo working’.
CLG: Last week saw the launch of a new handy tips & advice guide designed to help encourage people of all ages & backgrounds to get further involved in local life and bring lasting improvements to their communities.
From kickstarting local projects & organising community festivals, to engaging local businesses, the 'Inspiring Communities, Changing Behaviour' guide offers practical tips. It draws upon real life examples highlighting the experiences and the important & creative contributions made by communities across the country.
DfE: The Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA) has begun notifying schools & colleges of the allocations they will receive under the new £180m 16-19 bursary scheme. The scheme will help 16- to 19-year-olds continue in full-time education, where they might otherwise struggle for financial reasons. It is made up of 2 parts:
* a bursary of £1,200 a year to the most vulnerable young people
* a discretionary fund for schools & colleges to distribute.
Alongside the letters, the YPLA has published a guide for schools & colleges setting out arrangements for the scheme. A report on the 8-week consultation, which helped shape the new scheme and the Government’s response to the report, have also been published.
HEFCE: From September 2012, prospective higher education students will have easy access to the new Key Information Set (KIS) to help them choose what & where to study. Under new arrangements published jointly by HEFCE, Universities UK and GuildHE, universities & colleges in England will be required to publish a KIS for each undergraduate course they offer.
The KIS is an online summary of information about: student satisfaction; learning & assessment; financial costs & support; employment outcomes; and professional body recognition. These are the areas that more than 2,000 students and their advisers highlighted as most useful to them in recent research.
Ofsted: Ofsted has published the results of school inspections carried out during the autumn term & spring terms 2010/11. The inspections were carried out under arrangements introduced in September 2009 that focus more on weaker schools, with less frequent inspection of the outstanding schools. Inspectors have placed more emphasis on observation of teaching & learning in the classroom and its impact on pupils’ progress to judge a school’s overall effectiveness.
Following the current consultation, Ofsted is testing the new inspection arrangements in pilot inspections, with a view to introducing the new system in January 2012, subject to the passage of the Education Bill.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has released the latest editions of the Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture and the Agriculture Facts & Figures Pocketbook. The main purpose of the former is to provide underlying data & more in-depth analysis of previously released statistics on Farm Incomes and the June Agricultural Census and to provide a wider range of related statistics. It has been re-designed following a review of Agricultural Statistics publications. In particular, there is a greater emphasis on commentary & graphics.
The latter contains key Scottish Agricultural statistics along with selected UK & EU comparisons, which is available in a small hard copy pocketbook.
General Reports and Other Publications
PC&PE: The UK should continue to provide aid to India until 2015 - according to a new report by a cross party committee of MPs who have analysed the arguments for & against. India has seen remarkable economic growth over the last 25 years, but in per capita terms, the average income is still only 5% of that in the UK and over 400m people still live on less than 80 pence per day.
India’s space programme is often cited as an example of the country’s wealth and further justification for cutting UK aid. The MPs acknowledge that India needs a credible defence policy and point out that the country’s space programme also delivers important socio-economic benefits, including mapping weather patterns and the extent of floods, both of which help development.
DWP: The Department for Work and Pensions has published research exploring the likely pension industry responses to the forthcoming workplace pension reforms. The report presents findings from in-depth interviews with pension providers and intermediaries, carried out on behalf of the DWP by RS Consulting in January & February 2011.
NAO: Unfair treatment of consumers, ranging from pressure selling to systematic scams by criminals, is costing £bns each year – but the system for enforcing consumer law is not delivering value for money. According to a report by the National Audit Office, the overall scale of this so-called ‘consumer detriment’, particularly that caused by doorstep crime, is not being properly evaluated, leading to the inefficient allocation of resources.
The governance arrangements for the consumer law enforcement system are not clear, as demonstrated by the development of 2 separate & incompatible databases, one by the OFT and an alternative by one Trading Standards region. Central government provides annual funding of £34m to tackle crime which crosses the borders between local authorities, but this is relatively low compared to the scale of the problem.
IfG: Local authority mayors should be given more powers to make the difficult decisions that can support growth, according to a new joint report by the Institute for Government and Centre for Cities. Big Shot or Long Shot?: How elected mayors can help drive economic growth in England's shows that ‘mayors have potential to make a strong impact on the challenges that affect the growth of our cities’. But it argues mayors need greater powers to make the more controversial yet important decisions about planning & transport.
AS: An Accounts Commission report published last week, entitled Arm’s-Length External Organisations (ALEOs): are you getting it right?, says councils are increasingly using arm’s-length organisations as an alternative way of delivering services.
nef: Almost 3 years after the financial crisis that almost brought down the global economy, the new economics foundation claims that there is the first sign of awareness from government that structural reform of the banking system is necessary. The Chancellor, George Osborne, is effectively conceding that another bank crisis is likely and acting, not to prevent a crisis, but to protect the taxpayer & depositors when it happens.
However, nef says that the proposed reform stops short of the full & effective separation of casino-style investment banking and high street retail functions, which the USA enjoyed under its Glass Steagall Act.
Newswire – CBI: The CBI last week commented on the latest unemployment figures, showing a fall to 2.43m in the last 3 months. Earlier last week, the CBI launched a new project to explore ways of getting all the UK working by tackling long-term unemployment and inactivity.
NO: London Borough of Bromley’s delay in reviewing the care of an elderly man was “extraordinary and inexcusable” finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report, she says he was living in unsatisfactory conditions at a care home arranged by the Council and receiving an inadequate standard of care for perhaps as long as 18 months. The Council’s own investigation confirmed it had failed to ensure that Mr B received adequate care.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has reported on aspects of the Government's taxation plans before the House of Commons again discusses this year's Finance Bill at Report Stage.
CO: The Government is publishing the most comprehensive organisation charts of the UK Civil Service ever released online, ‘taking another step towards its goal of being the most transparent government in the world and opening up the structure of the Civil Service to public scrutiny’.
ESRC: Much coverage of the economic downturn has focussed on its immediate impact, yet it is likely to hold long-term implications for family life. A research study (‘Changing Lives and Times’) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) at Cardiff University has explored the impact of the financial crisis on the daily lives & future plans of new fathers, finding that several men were making significant life changes.
PC&PE: Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market, chairman of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, recently said that the Government’s response to the Committee's report on Auditors: Market concentration and their role was not good enough.
nef: UK Universities add at least £1.31bn a year in value to society in the form of health & well being, citizenship and political engagement, according to new research by independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation), published in association with Universities UK. These values are above & beyond the economic contribution that universities make.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: Last week Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), and Giovanni Buttarelli, Assistant Supervisor, presented their Annual Report of activities for 2010 to the press. This Report covers the sixth full year of activity of the EDPS as a new, independent supervisory body.
EU News: A proposal to update & improve EU rules to protect workers from electromagnetic fields in their daily tasks has just been put forward by the European Commission. The rules are to protect workers like doctors & nurses giving patients magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI), people working with radar, welders and workers repairing power lines. The proposal would replace the current Directive (2004/40/EC).
The proposal only covers workers during their professional activities. All other categories of people, such as consumers, phone users & passengers, are covered by the existing Council Recommendation 1999/519/EEC for the general public and specific legislation in each Member State.
EU News: Will your city be the next European Green Capital? The search to find the city that will inherit the prestigious title in 2014 has begun. The EGC Award recognizes & rewards cities that are at the forefront of environmentally-friendly urban living and which can act as role-models to inspire other cities.
Entries will be assessed on the basis of 12 indicators and cities can apply via an online application form - the deadline for applications for the 2014 title is 14 October 2011. The title is awarded by an international jury supported by a panel of renowned experts in different environmental fields. The winner will be announced in June 2012.
EU News: A proposed ban on the use of phosphates in household laundry detergents from 1 January 2013 should be widened to include household dishwasher detergents as of 2015, said the Environment Committee last week. Phosphates boost cleaning power, but also encourage the growth of algae at the expense of other aquatic life, causing ‘green tides’.
EU News: The European Commission has requested 9 Member States (including the UK) to adopt national legislation to implement EU rules setting up a vessel traffic monitoring & information system.
The rules in question, an important measure to prevent loss of life & environmental damage from shipping accidents, were due to be implemented by Member States no later than 30 November 2010. If these Member States fail to inform the Commission within 2 months of what measures they have taken to ensure full compliance with the law, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
EU News: The European Commission has formally requested 8 Member States (including the UK) to fully implement the railway interoperability Directive of 2008 (2008/57/EC) and its 2009 amendment.
They have so far failed to notify the Commission of measure taken to implement both these 2 Directives into national law (the deadline was 19 July 2010). The Commission has requested the Member States in question to remedy the situation within two months, failing which the Commission may refer them to the EU's Court of Justice.
EU News: The European Commission has requested 10 Member States (including the UK) to implement a Directive on promoting clean & energy-efficient vehicles, in accordance with their obligations under European Union law.
The deadline for implementation of the Directive was 4 December 2010. If the Member States fail to inform the Commission within 2 months of measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law in this respect, the Commission could refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice.
BIS: Chris Grayling, Employment Minister, visited Brussels last week to continue the UK Government’s lobbying on the Pregnant Workers Directive. The Government is concerned that the measures proposed by MEPs for 20 weeks of maternity leave at full pay will result in considerable costs to Member States when they can least afford it. Ministers also believe the proposals to be socially regressive.
PX: Europe must rethink its approach to tackling climate change, according to a new report from think tank Policy Exchange. As the latest round of international climate negotiations came to an end in Bonn last week, the report says European climate policy ‘does little to persuade other countries, especially China and the Unites States, of the need to sign up to ambitious carbon reduction targets’.
The report – Climate Change Policy: Time for Plan B – insists that while the EU should retain its existing 2020 emissions reduction target and its high level of ambition on longer-term decarbonisation, there needs to be a stronger focus on lowering the costs of climate mitigation at global level.
EU News: Are you planning on travelling in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland? If so, don't forget your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The card can help you save time, hassle & money if you fall ill or suffer an injury while abroad. Close to 185m cards are in circulation according to figures published recently by the European Commission.
EU News: ‘Ex-smokers are unstoppable’ is the slogan of the EU-wide campaign launched recently by European Commissioner for Health & Consumer Policy, John Dalli. Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable illness in the European Union and the estimated cause of death of over 650,000 people in the European Union every year. 1 in 3 people smoke.
The 3-year campaign launched last week will focus on the positive effects of stopping smoking and will use a coordinated mix of advertising, social media, events and practical tools to reach smokers and help them quit.
EU News: EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes awarded prizes to the winners of the Open Data Challenge and Hack4Europe! competitions at the Digital Agenda Assembly held in Brussels on 16 & 17 June 2011.
Companies, designers, programmers, developers, journalists, researchers and the general public from across Europe participated in the two open data competitions, trying out their ideas for creative reuse of information held by the public sector and open cultural data.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
CRUK: Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Harpal Kumar has spoken of a ‘golden era’ for cancer research as the UK is poised to lead the world in individualising the practice of medicine by understanding which treatments are best suited to an individual patient’s particular genetic type of cancer.
New discoveries are already producing personalised treatments that promise to be more targeted than conventional medicine, he told the annual National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference in London.
CRUK is launching a programme in the UK to show how cancer gene tests can be carried out systematically within the NHS to help clinicians choose the best treatment for their patients and, in turn, influence research.
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs has pledged £2m a year for the next 4 years to support people needing help with their taxes, benefits and tax credits. The department has awarded 17 grants to 10 Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) organisations working across the UK.
Part of the funding goes to new ways of providing support - for example, a project piloting video link-ups from a number of locations throughout England to the charity TaxAid’s specialist advisers. Funding also goes to VCS training – for example, Gingerbread will deliver training courses in Tax Credits for advisers working with lone parents.
AUK: One in five women nearing retirement age falsely believes they will receive a state pension when they reach 60, new research shows. According to Age UK, many older women are unaware of changes to the state pension age made in 1995.
The charity carried out a study which revealed that 21% of women aged between 50 & 53 do not realise they will only be eligible for a state pension when they reach 65. It warned that the state pension age could be pushed back even further depending on changes proposed in the Pensions Bill.
Business and Other Briefings
WAG: The successful Welsh Government ProAct scheme is being re-opened to help companies whose business has been disrupted by the Japanese earthquakes. Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, has announced that £4m will be available for companies that have had to re-introduce short time working due to the supply issues as a result of the Japanese earthquake.
Companies wishing to apply for ProAct support can contact the Business Skills Hotline on 0845 60 661 60 for further information or an application form. The scheme will be open for a period of 3 months for new applications.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has required CCTV monitoring website Internet Eyes to make significant changes to the way it operates after CCTV footage of a shopper was posted on YouTube.
WAG: The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has officially launched a major £23.6m project to grow Wales’ marine sector. The Sustainable Expansion of the Applied Coastal and Marine Sectors (SEACAMS) initiative encourages collaboration between the private sector & universities to develop coastal & marine businesses.
CSEF: The Children's Safety Education Foundation has highlighted that accidents remain one of the biggest single causes of death in the UK for children, second only to cancer. On top of this, around 2m children & young people visit accident and emergency departments with an unintentional injury, costing the NHS an estimated £146m.
Child Safety Week (Monday 20 June to Sunday 26 June 2011) is a community education campaign that aims to raise awareness of the number of accidents that seriously injure, disable or kill children and the steps we can take to prevent them. The theme for 2011 is 'Take a second look at safety'.
JRF: A new exhibition, hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), uses imagery & film to explore how the perceptions & experiences of households living in different low-income neighbourhoods across Britain compare & contrast.
Communities under pressure, which is being exhibited at NLA – the centre for London's built environment – is the culmination of a 3-year research programme into the relationship between poverty & place by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.
Running from 16 June 2011 for 4 weeks, the exhibition reinforces messages from the research. The exhibition will go on tour around the UK from September, including visits to the neighbourhoods involved in the study.
Newswire – RoSPA: Finding a way to press on with accident & ill health prevention during difficult economic times is the theme of this year’s foremost Scottish safety event. Everyday accident & ill-health issues facing firms will be thoroughly investigated at the RoSPA Scotland Safety and Health Forum, taking place at the Hilton Glasgow Hotel on 21 September 2011.
The event is an evolution of the popular RoSPA Scotland Occupational Safety and Health at Work Congress and the title reflects a more dynamic learning experience.
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