In the News
NICE: Time for the NHS to admit that parts of it do need to change / reform? - 60% of stroke patients in the NHS are not getting early access to potentially life-saving stroke-prevention surgery, according to a report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Vascular Society.
The report highlights the degree of variation, across the UK, in the time between patients first experiencing symptoms of stroke and then receiving preventative treatment.
Carotid endarterectomy is surgery carried out by specialist surgeons to prevent stroke by removing a blockage in the arteries of the neck. NICE guidance recommends that provided the person's symptoms have stabilised, this surgery should be performed within 2 weeks of a stroke or minor stroke - known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).
However, the report reveals that the majority of patients (60%) with symptoms of TIA or stroke are not receiving carotid endarterectomy surgery within the 2-week timescale recommended by NICE. Furthermore, the time between patients experiencing symptoms and receiving treatment varies widely across the UK. Some patients requiring surgery undergo treatment within 2 days, while others wait nearly 2 months before receiving it.
The report calls for the continued promotion of public awareness of stroke & TIA, such as the NHS F.A.S.T. campaign, and urges a reorganisation of services. This is order to minimise any delays resulting from a shortage of operating time, or availability of surgeons.
MoD: Trying to do too much with too little? - A new vision for how the MOD will run & be managed has been outlined by Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox as the report of the Defence Reform Review is published. The report by Lord Levene and a team of external experts has been published in line with the principles for reform set out by the Secretary of State.
One of the key recommendations of the report is to empower the military, allowing Single Service Chiefs to take greater control of their own allocated budgets and advise on the best balance between manpower, training, equipment & support, etc. that are needed to deliver the Defence requirement. New oversight measures will ensure they will be properly held to account for so doing.
The MOD will publish a blueprint setting out all the major changes the Department is embarked on later this year.
BCE: Gerrymandering or improved reflection of where people live (& vote) today? - The Boundary Commission for England has published a guide which explains how the 2013 review of parliamentary constituencies will work. It also gives details about how people will be able to have their say when the Commission publishes its proposals this September.
The BCE is reviewing Parliamentary boundaries following the new rules laid down in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 ('the 2011 Act') and will deliver its final recommendations by 1 October 2013.
The 2011 Act reduces the number of constituencies from 650 to 600. England has been allocated 502 constituencies - 2 of these constituencies are expressly reserved for the Isle of Wight.
People will be able to comment on the proposals either by attending public hearings that will run from mid-October to mid-November, or by writing in during the 12- week consultation period which will end in December. More details about viewing the proposals and on how to register for a public hearing will be published on the website in July 2011.
EU News: They ask for more even when they don’t spend what they have! - Parliament's Budgets Committee voted Monday to deduct €4.54bn from Member States' contributions to this year's EU budget.
This sum is the surplus left over from financial 2010. Of this total, €2.72bn consists of ‘leftovers’ from programmes implemented in 2010. The rest comes from fines, interest on late payments and surpluses due to exchange rate differences. MEPs nonetheless objected to returning part of the sum to Member States, and would like to prevent it from happening again.
Press release & links
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
Defra: Britain recently signed an international treaty that will ‘create new incentives to protect wildlife while providing developing countries with better opportunities to benefit from their own natural environments’. The Protocol will enter into force 90 days after it is ratified by 50 countries.
24 countries have signed to date and it is anticipated that the Protocol will enter into force before the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Hyderabad in October 2012.
FSA: Asda has withdrawn some of its Strawberry & White Chocolate Popcorn because it contains pecan & milk chocolate popcorn that is not mentioned on the box. This means that the product is a risk to anyone who is allergic to, or intolerant of, nuts. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: Farmer Gosden’s Dairy is recalling all varieties of its Luxury Jersey Ice Cream with ‘best before’ dates from 1 October 2011 to 28 December 2011, because the ice cream might be contaminated with bacteria, but are not present at high enough levels to cause a risk to health. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
DCMS: The design of the medal to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was unveiled by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt last week along with details of who will receive one.
MoD: Newly-upgraded Warrior vehicles have saved the lives of British soldiers within weeks of arriving in Afghanistan. Warrior is the only British tracked infantry vehicle in theatre, able to get to places that wheeled vehicles cannot. This enables the infantry to engage the enemy more effectively in difficult terrain.
Just a short time after receiving their modified Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, troops from 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (3 MERCIAN), on patrol in the Durai East region of Afghanistan's Helmand province, survived a serious improvised explosive device (IED) blast, thanks to the vehicle's improved protection.
ACE: Catalyst Arts is part of the £80m scheme to boost philanthropy to the arts announced last December by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Arts Council England. Further details of the criteria & how to apply to Catalyst Arts will be available in September 2011.
The fund is just one of the measures ACE are putting in place to help create a more sustainable, resilient & innovative arts sector - one of the 5 goals set out in Achieving great art for everyone, the ACE 10-year framework for the arts.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence is doubling the Council Tax Relief (CTR) for Service personnel on eligible operations overseas from 25 to 50%, with effect from 1 July 2011. Based on the average Council Tax per dwelling in England, this will amount to approximately £296 for an average 6-month tour.
In addition, CTR is now extended to include Operation ELLAMY, the UK element of the NATO operation in Libya to protect civilians and enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. Increasing the CTR rate is just one of the commitments announced in the 'Armed Forces Covenant: Today and Tomorrow' published on 16 May 2011.
HPA: New cases of Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) and bloody diarrhoea (VTEC or EHEC infection, caused by E. coli O104) in Germany were continuing to decrease last week. No new cases of bloody diarrhoea in the UK, potentially linked to the outbreak in Germany, have been reported to the HPA in the past 2 weeks.
The total number of cases in the UK therefore remains at 17 – 3 HUS (all in England) and 14 bloody diarrhoea (13 cases in England, 1 in Scotland). To date, 6 of these have been microbiologically confirmed. All 17 cases are related to travel to Germany.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DfT: Full information about speed cameras will be published by local authorities and the police for the first time, Road Safety Minister Mike Penning has announced.
Figures showing the numbers of accidents & casualties at camera sites (both before & after cameras were installed) will be published by local authorities. The Department will review the position related to implementation of the publication of speed camera information after six months with ACPO and the working group.
DECC: The Government recently published its finalised Energy National Policy Statements (NPSs) in order for them to be debated in Parliament. This follows an extensive public consultation earlier this year which received over 2.500 responses.
The Energy NPSs provide a clear framework for decision making and set out the need for a surge of investment in new energy sources, including 33GW of new renewable energy capacity. The Nuclear NPS lists eight sites across the country as suitable for new nuclear power stations by 2025.
CLG: Planning Minister, Greg Clark, recently said the Government could scrap red tape in order to encourage 'meanwhile uses' of empty buildings, transforming them into new shops, business start-ups, and community projects.
Mr Clark believes that it should be easier for businesses & communities to arrange meanwhile uses for empty buildings without having to jump through unnecessary hoops in the planning system. Removing the need for planning permission to temporarily change the use of empty buildings could be a key part of a future Government consultation on deregulating the use class order system. The Government wants to hear similar ideas & views on how the 'change of use' part of the planning system can be improved.
DfE: Top graduates will be attracted into the teaching profession to help drive up standards in schools, under new plans published last week. There has also been a longstanding problem recruiting the high quality maths and science teachers we need. Ministers have also launched a new £2m Scholarship Scheme for existing teachers.
The Initial Teacher Training Strategy sets out plans to build on the strengths of the existing system, as well as addressing some important weaknesses. The strategy is now for public discussion (comments by 22 July 2011) with the final strategy being published later this summer.
The new system is planned to come into effect from September 2011, with most changes affecting new trainee teachers starting in September 2012.
DH: More money & expertise will be ploughed in to dementia research in the hope of moving closer to finding a cure or better treatment for the millions of families affected by this devastating condition, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced last week.
The Minister has joined forces with 17 experts & interested parties from across Government, universities, charities, industry & research organisations to look at ways to work together to increase the volume & impact of dementia research and improve the lives those living with this devastating condition. They have launched a ‘Route Map for Dementia Research’.
DH: A new NHS Leadership Framework, which will be the cornerstone for leadership across all professions in the NHS, has been launched by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley. It sets out what is vital for clinicians & other professionals to lead & inspire. It will fundamentally underpin the new structures that have already been announced as part of the modernisation plans for the NHS.
WAG: Libraries across Wales will be welcoming children to this year’s circus-themed Summer Reading Challenge™ that will keep them reading throughout the school summer holidays. Children between 4 & 11 are encouraged to read 6 or more books of their choice during the Summer holidays and they will get collectable incentives & rewards - plus a certificate or medal for every child who completes the ‘Circus Stars’ Challenge.
ScotGov: Proposals to transfer broadcasting powers to Scotland have been set out in a paper published by the Scottish Government. It is 1 of 6 papers, prepared by Ministers, proposing amendments to the Scotland Bill that aim to support Scotland's economic recovery.
HMT: The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, has confirmed that the first cheques were sent to Equitable Life policyholders on Thursday 30 June 2011, meeting the Government’s commitment that payments will start by the end of June.
Hundreds of policyholders will receive cheques in the coming weeks at the start of a 3-year payment programme, and the Government has set aside £500m for the Equitable Life Payment Scheme over the coming year. Policyholders do not need to get in contact at this time – the Government will be writing to all the eligible policyholders it can by June 2012 to provide information about their personal status within the Scheme.
WAG: A new statutory National Literacy & Numeracy Framework for all learners aged 5 to 14 is to be introduced in schools across Wales, Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has announced. The Framework will provide schools with annual expected outcomes in literacy and numeracy for learners aged 5 to 14. It will be introduced in schools in September 2012 and rolled out across the whole of Wales by 2013.
ScotGov: An action plan to drive forward Scotland's renewables revolution and to meet this Government's world-leading green energy targets, has been launched by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. The Renewables Routemap outlines the necessary steps needed to capitalise on the enormous economic potential of Scotland's green energy capacity and to meet ambitious targets, including supplying 100% of electricity demand equivalent from renewables by 2020.
DfT: The Government’s vision for recharging infrastructure, to support the electric vehicles revolution, has been announced by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond. The publication – Making the Connection: the Plug-In Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy – identifies how recharging infrastructure will develop in a way that is targeted, convenient and safe.
The Transport Secretary also announced that the Renault Fluence has become the 10th vehicle now eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant - a generous consumer grant of up to £5,000. The Renault ‘Fluence’ model will be available in the UK from Autumn 2012.
HO: Police will be able to prevent suspected domestic abusers from returning to a victim's home, under a pilot scheme launched by the Home Office last week. Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire police will run the 12 month trial of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs), which officers can use to stop perpetrators from contacting victims or returning to their home for up to 28 days.
The scheme is designed to provide protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident, before civil proceedings can be progressed. Domestic violence is a widespread problem and comprised 14% of all violent incidences reported in the British Crime Survey last year.
CLG: Pioneering councils eager to demonstrate how they would ensure the benefits of development would be shared with their community were last week named by Decentralisation Minister, Greg Clark. The group of 20 Local Authorities are the second to join the Community Infrastructure Levy Front Runners project, which was set up to ‘support Local Authorities eager to develop effective ways of implementing the reformed levy in their local areas’.
The levy gives councils more choice & flexibility in how they fund infrastructure that local communities need & want and has the potential to raise an estimated £1bn a year of funding by 2016 that can be used by neighbourhoods and councils to support local growth.
ScotGov: Education Scotland, the Scottish Government's national development & improvement agency for education, was launched last week. Led by transitional Chief Executive, Dr Bill Maxwell, the agency brings together the functions of Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE), the National CPD Team and the SG's Positive Behaviour Team.
ScotGov: Ensuring access for all to next generation high-speed broadband by 2020 is a key priority for rural Scotland, Richard Lochhead said last week. A recent parliamentary debate on Rural Connectivity highlighted the need for rural Scotland to be included in the digital revolution for high-speed broadband and 4G mobile coverage.
It is envisaged that the roll-out of next generation broadband to rural Scotland can be achieved through a small number of regional broadband projects. Two regional projects are already under development in the Highlands & Islands and the south of Scotland. Scotland's Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland was published in March 2011 and sets out in detail how the Scottish Government intends to achieve its digital ambition.
NICE: NICE has launched a consultation (closes Friday 22 July 2011) on its draft quality standard for end of life care for adults. NICE quality standards (QS) are a set of specific, concise statements & measures that act as markers of high-quality, clinical & cost-effective patient care. It also covers support for the families and carers of people in these groups.
IS: The Insolvency Service has launched a 6-week consultation with its staff on ‘potentially reshaping the way in which it carries out the bulk of its business and delivers its services going forward’.
The ‘Delivery Strategy – Shaping our future’ consultation will close on Friday 5 August 2011. The Service recognises that any changes to service delivery will impact on key stakeholders and therefore the Delivery Strategy consultation will be shared with some external organisations.
MPA: The MPA is launching the ‘Have Your Say’ consultation to find out Londoners’ policing priorities. By completing a short online questionnaire Londoners can tell the MPA what are the most important issues for them and what they believe the police should be focusing on. The closing date is 25 November 2011.
DCMS: The Film Policy Review panel recently began seeking industry views on how to better support the UK film sector. The panel last week published a detailed survey (closes on 9 September 2011) to collect views on where film policy needs to be changed. The Review is expected to report to Mr Vaizey by the end of 2011.
Press release & links
HSE: The Government and the Health & Safety Executive are calling for the people of Wales to give their thoughts on red tape. The Red Tape Challenge is seeking views about regulations from the public, business and others like industry bodies and volunteers.
H&S regulation is 1 of 6 cross-cutting themes on the Red Tape Challenge website and the public will be able to give comments on health & safety throughout the whole of the Red Tape Challenge campaign. But, from 30 June to 21 July 2011, there will be a special focus on health & safety regulation to encourage people to get involved and have their say.
CfPA: Sir David Normington, the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments, has launched a consultation on the way Ministerial appointments to public bodies are regulated. The consultation, which will run until 28 September 2011, sets out proposals for reform which aim to simplify the current regulatory system and encourage wider fields of applicants.
HMRC: A consultation (closes on 30 September 2011) to examine how the European VAT cost sharing exemption might be used by UK businesses & organisations was published last week by HM Revenue & Customs. It will also explore a framework for its possible implementation.
This follows from the statement in the March 2011 Budget that consultation would continue. If implemented the exemption could remove the VAT charge preventing institutions such as universities and charities from gaining efficiencies by sharing costs with each other.
BIS: ‘Putting students at the heart of England's higher education (HE) system’ is the central theme of the Government’s reforms announced last week. The proposals contained in the White Paper - ‘Students at the Heart of the System’ cover 4 broad areas:
* reforming funding
* delivering a better student experience
* enabling universities to increase social mobility
* reducing regulation and removing barriers for new providers
EU News: Arranging a cross border emergency rescue, preventing major environmental damage or comparing energy consumption of buildings in different countries will soon be faster & easier thanks to proposed improved data sharing in the EU.
With INSPIRE – Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe – the European Union is creating a common standard to make environmental information quickly and easily accessible. This will translate into clear benefits for European citizens, ranging from improved emergency services to a healthier everyday environment. Common standards will help to cut costs and & the basis for decision making at all levels. Views are now being sought on the suitability of the proposed standards (by 21 October 2011).
EU News: With up to 49% of Europeans living in areas where EU air quality objectives are still not met, air pollution is one of the main environmental worries facing EU citizens.
As part of a comprehensive review of Europe's air policies intended to set new long-term objectives beyond 2020, the European Commission is launching a public consultation on its current policy in this area. This web-based consultation is part of a broader process of reflection that will feed into a review due no later than 2013.
The public consultation (closes on 30 September 2011) invites all interested parties to share their views on the best way to improve the EU's air quality legislation. It is divided into two parts – a short questionnaire for the general public and a longer section for experts & practitioners from national administrations, regional or local authorities, researchers, businesses, stakeholders, health, environmental and other groups involved in the implementation of EU air quality legislation.
HMT: The Government has published proposals (consultation closes on 22 September 2011) for reforming the UK’s Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) rules, as part of its ambition to create the most competitive tax system in the G20.
HSE: Outdoor activity providers, sports clubs & teachers are among those being asked for their views (by 21 September 2011) on proposals to change the health & safety requirements for young people's adventure activities. The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) will be abolished and a 12-week long public consultation on its replacement with a code of practice began last week.
The recommendation to abolish AALA and the associated regulations was made in the Government-commissioned report Common Sense, Common Safety. The current licensing regime operates under the Activity Centres (Young Persons' Safety) Act 1995 and the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004.
WAG: New guidance aimed at improving the pre-application stage of the planning application process has been launched for consultation (closes on 28 September 2011) by Environment Minister, John Griffiths.
The consultation is aimed at ‘honing & improving the draft pre application process guidance, which will be issued in final form later in the year’. The guidance outlines the many benefits of discussing a development proposal prior to submitting an application.
CO: New steps voters will be required to take to be included on the electoral register were set out last week by the Government. The Individual Electoral Registration White Paper details the process for moving to individual voter registration, replacing the existing system of household registration. The change is designed to modernise the electoral system and tackle fraud.
Britain is almost alone in retaining a system of household registration, which is now widely considered to be outdated & vulnerable to fraud. Under the proposals, voters will be asked to register individually from 2014, by providing their date of birth & national insurance number, all of which will be verified before they are added to the register.
In addition to publishing the White Paper, the Government is also currently in the process of commencing a series of data-matching pilots as part of its commitment to make the electoral register more accurate & complete.
The White Paper is open for consultation (closes on 14 October 2011) before legislation is introduced in the first part of 2012. The Government plans for the first IER canvass to begin on 1 July 2014 and conclude when the revised register is published by 1 December 2014.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
OFT: The OFT has launched new guidance and a film including a dramatised dawn raid, to help businesses comply with competition law. This coincides with the publication of research showing business awareness of competition law has grown but has further to go.
The first document, How Your Business Can Achieve Compliance, is aimed at businesses & their advisors, and sets out the OFT's recommended risk-based, 4-step approach to creating a culture of competition law compliance.
Reflecting the crucial role directors play in compliance the second document, Company Directors and Competition Law, explains the level of competition law understanding expected from directors. It outlines steps they should take to prevent, detect and stop infringements of competition law.
HMT: The Government, with Monitor has agreed to extend the consolidation accounting standard to all NHS organisations from 1 April 2013. This application has been deferred since the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards across central government on 1 April 2009.
ACE: The CASE Local Culture & Heritage Profile Tool is a quick & easy way to get hold of a range of data that can be used in local cultural & heritage-related policy-making.
NA: The eighth annual report & accounts for The National Archives is now available.
Monitor: NHS foundation trusts have reported a good overall financial performance despite a more challenging economic environment, according to a new report published recently by Monitor. At the beginning of 2010/11 Monitor identified a number of key challenges that could present significant risks to foundation trusts.
In NHS Foundation Trusts: Review of Twelve Months to 31 March 2011, Monitor reviews performance against these challenges and reveals that risks have largely been mitigated. However, performance against waiting time targets for cancer continues to present the most significant service challenge for foundation trusts. Monitor has indicated this could lead to trusts breaching the terms of their authorisation if their performance does not improve.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published Educational Outcomes for Scotland's Looked After Children, 2009-10. This new publication contains statistics obtained from linking, for the first time, looked after children's data provided by local authority social work services departments with educational data provided by publicly funded schools, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
It presents key findings on a range of educational outcome statistics for children or young people who have been looked after continuously during the 12-month period, in different types of care placements, and for pupils with multiple placements within the school year.
ScotGov: Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil has welcomed increased infrastructure benefits & savings unveiled by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT). During 2010/11 SFT work saved the public purse £129m of net independently verified benefits to infrastructure in Scotland. Overall SFT will have delivered £240m of benefits and savings since 2009.
Newswire – RoSPA: Annual deaths on Great Britain’s roads have fallen below 2,000 for the first time since records began, proving the value & effectiveness of having a strong road safety strategy, says the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Headline figures published by the Department for Transport reveal that 1,857 people were killed in reported road accidents during 2010, a reduction of 365 (16%) on the previous year’s figure.
General Reports and Other Publications
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has outlined how its successor body charged with conduct & markets regulation will be ‘tougher, bolder and more engaged with consumers’. The approach document sets out how the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which will assume responsibility for protecting consumers and markets’ regulation from the end of 2012, will deliver its objectives.
Newswire - TUC: As learning becomes increasingly a core role of unions, a new report shows that it can act as a powerful recruitment sergeant, bringing new people into the movement and encouraging members into greater activism.
Learning Journeys: trade union learners in their own words, by academics from London Metropolitan University's Working Lives Institute, found that Union Learning Fund projects and union-led learning were successful because union learning reps (ULRs) reach the most disadvantaged and those older workers who thought they would never have a second chance.
The model of learning - either in workplace learning centres or by access to on-line courses - was popular, because it fitted in with workers' other commitments and was unlike their bad memories of school. And it showed that union learning - now believed to be 10% of all union activity - is persuading people to join up.
Newswire – CIPD: The key to preventing escalating strike action will be for Government and public sector employers to communicate to employees the benefits of being employed by the public sector compared to the private sector, even after any reforms to pensions.
CEOP: UK National Centre for Child Protection publishes outcome of 6 month assessment into "on street grooming" and child sexual exploitation.
PC&PE: The Health Committee has found that the role of the Health Service Ombudsman needs a complete overhaul if it is to provide an effective appeals process for the complaints system. The Ombudsman's current terms of reference prevent her from launching a formal investigation unless she is satisfied in advance that there will be a 'worthwhile outcome'.
IfG: The Institute for Government has published its interim evaluation of the Ministry of Justice's 'Transforming Justice' programme: Transformation in the Ministry of Justice: 2011 Interim Evaluation Report.
Reform: According to the latest report from the Reform think tank, the UK faces a bleak future of rising taxes & rising deficits. Two forces will defeat the Government’s attempts to reduce the deficit:
* the ageing population
* the Government’s own policies to increase spending on the basic state pension and the NHS
JRF: A new report published last week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) highlights the challenges facing community organisations who wish to own or manage assets, such as buildings & land.
As the transfer of community assets has been given new impetus by the recent Localism Bill (which proposes to give local communities more control, including community rights to buy, to challenge & to build), JRF commissioned research into a range of community-based organisations who own & manage assets across the UK.
The report warns that without the right conditions in place, asset ownership/management can struggle to achieve benefits. Throughout 2010 & 2011 JRF has run a series of seminars looking at different issues relating to Community Assets.
TWF: Only the knowledge economy can provide the jobs & balanced growth needed to secure the UK’s future prosperity, according to a plan for growth published last week by The Work Foundation. The report sets out a vision of what a balanced & sustainable economy could look like in 2020 and provides a detailed picture of the measures needed to secure this future.
CSJ: Specialist local teams should be established immediately in order to fight the epidemic of poverty & isolation in later life, according to a report published by the Centre for Social Justice. Expert units made up of local community leaders, police officers, older people’s charities & council officers should be set up to find & support the estimated 1m pensioners who report feeling lonely or trapped in their homes.
NAO: There are major risks the Department of Energy & Climate Change must address to achieve value for money from its £11.3bn national programme to install ‘smart’ electricity & gas meters in all homes and smaller non-domestic premises in Great Britain from 2014 to 2019, according to a report by the National Audit Office.
Newswire – CAB: People with disabilities face unnecessary extra difficulties when trying to sort out their debt problems as creditors fail to recognise specific needs or make reasonable adjustments in a consistent way according to Citizens Advice. The charity’s report (Double Disadvantage) highlights that many clients would not have engaged with their creditors without the help of specialised debt advice, but warned that ongoing funding for this valued community based support is uncertain.
Around 1 in 5 people seeking advice about debt problems from CABs in England & Wales are disabled or have a long term health problem. Last year bureaux helped over 72,000 disabled people with debt problems. The charity warns that compliance with the Equality Act and sector specific rules is far from embedded in the day-to-day business practices of all creditors and practices that fail to account for the needs of disabled people are not being challenged.
CCC: The Committee on Climate Change’s progress report finds that emissions increased by 3% in 2010, mainly as a result of the colder winter months. After adjusting for weather impacts, emissions were broadly flat. This is incompatible with the 3% annual average emissions reduction required to meet the first 4 carbon budgets. A significant acceleration in the pace of emissions reductions is therefore required.
NAO: The project to replace the 46 Fire and Rescue Services' local control rooms across England with 9 purpose-built regional control centres linked by a new IT system has been a comprehensive failure, according to the National Audit Office.
The Department for Communities and Local Government acted to cut its losses by terminating the contract in December 2010, 7 years after it had begun, but at least £469m will have been wasted, with no IT system delivered and 8 of the 9 new regional control centres remaining empty & costly to maintain.
PC&PE: MPs published a report on Friday 1 July criticising the government’s plans for winding down the Forensic Science Service, saying the current deadline for closure is unlikely to ensure an orderly transition and urging the government to extend the deadline by at least 6 months. The report highlights concerns over the shrinking forensics market - driven by police in-sourcing of forensic science - and a failure by the government to consider enough evidence in its decision-making.
Newswire – TUC: A part-time nurse earning £17,000 a year will suffer an 8.5% real terms pay cut by 2012/13 - almost £100 a month - as a result of planned pension increases, the public sector pay freeze & tax changes, according to new TUC research published last week. While ministers say their proposals would protect low-paid public sector staff from pension increases, this does not include those who, if they worked full-time, would earn more than the government's £18,000 cut off.
The switch to linking the indexation of pensions in payment to the CPI measure reduces the value of pensions by 15%. The NAO estimate this is a saving of £67bn. A number of unions are currently taking legal action to challenge the decision to cut the value of pensions in this way.
Legislation / Legal
OFT: The OFT recently advised the Competition Commission that the Domestic Electrical Goods Order and associated undertakings, which cover everyday goods such as televisions & washing machines, can be removed. The Competition Commission will now consider the OFT's advice, before reaching a conclusion on what should happen to the Order.
ScotGov: First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed the publication of the first report of the Review Group examining the relationship between the High Court of Justiciary and the UK Supreme Court in criminal cases. The McCluskey report agrees that the existing statutory basis for bringing human rights issues to the Supreme Court is 'seriously flawed'.
OFT: The OFT has put passenger travel companies on notice to change misleading debit & credit card surcharging practices or face enforcement action under consumer protection laws. Publishing its findings on these surcharges, following a super-complaint from Which?, the OFT also calls for the law to be updated to stop consumers being surcharged when buying goods & services with any debit card.
The OFT considers that surcharging for using a credit or debit card is potentially misleading to consumers when it comes as a surprise - particularly when free payment mechanisms are only available to a small proportion of consumers, making a surcharge effectively compulsory.
HMT: The Government has published the Sovereign Grant Bill, which is intended to establish ‘a more permanent, flexible and accountable way of supporting Her Majesty, The Queen in Her official duties’. The Civil List has been paid to Sovereigns since 1760. Legislation was last substantively revised in 1972. The Bill sets out the detail of the approach announced by the Government at the June Budget 2010 and Spending Review 2010.
The Bill will ensure that the heir to the throne, whether or not (s)he is also the Duke of Cornwall, receives the equivalent of full revenues of the Duchy. So all heirs, whether Duke of Cornwall or not, are treated the same.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: To boost dairy farmers' bargaining power, they must be enabled to negotiate fairer prices through producer groups, pricing practices must be made clearer throughout the distribution chain, and dairies must be made to report their monthly purchases, said the Agriculture Committee recently, amending a draft EU regulation on milk contracts. The new rules will apply only until 30 June 2020, and will be reviewed in 2014 & 2018.
EU News: Passengers may claim reimbursement of reasonable expenditure incurred where an airline fails to provide care and assistance in the event of a cancelled flight.
EU News: 13 photonics research projects are being launched in the field of high-speed fibre broadband networks with the aim of developing technologies to deliver super fast internet speeds to the home in excess of 1 Gigabit per second.
Defra: It will become cheaper & easier to travel abroad with pets when new rules are introduced at the start of next year. The UK will harmonise its pet movement rules with the rest of the EU from 1 January 2012, bringing the UK’s Pet Travel Scheme into line with the most recent science. The UK will maintain its high level of protection against animal diseases after the changes, which have the potential to save pet owners around £7m in fees.
Forcing pets to spend 6 months in quarantine, a practice dating from the 1800s, is no longer necessary because of vastly improved rabies vaccines & treatments, but all pets will still need to be vaccinated against rabies.
EU News: With effect from 1st July 2011 to 30 June 2012 EU mobile operators will again be obliged to lower retail prices for roaming calls in line with EU rules first introduced in 2007 and amended in 2009. Consumers opting for the EU-regulated ‘Eurotariff’ will pay no more than 35 cents per minute for calls made and 11 cents per minute for calls received while abroad in the EU.
This is the last in the series of regulated price cuts under the current EU Roaming Regulation, which expires end June 2012.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DUK: Two thirds of people with Type 1 diabetes and almost half of Type 2 patients do not receive all 9 annual health checks to manage their diabetes effectively, according to the biggest ever audit of diabetes in England & Wales. It also identified substantial regional variations in both the prevalence & treatment of complications such as kidney failure and dialysis.
The National Diabetes Audit 2010 shows children & young people are less likely to receive all the recommended checks, such as blood pressure, blood glucose and foot checks. The report also revealed that more than 800,000 people with diabetes have high risk blood glucose levels putting them at increased risk of complications.
MoD: An Olympic rower, a rap star and TV celebrities took part in a 24-hour charity one-million-metre row recently in an attempt to raise £1m for Armed Forces charities. Row2Recovery is a new charitable campaign which began with the aim of supporting a mixed crew of able-bodied & wounded soldiers and veterans in their attempt to row from the Canaries to Barbados starting in December 2011.
Since then, it has morphed into a huge fundraising campaign, which was launched on Friday 24 June 2011 at Horse Guards Parade in London. The challenge involved rowing 1m metres in shifts on rowing machines to raise cash for military charities ABF The Soldiers' Charity, SSAFA, Help for Heroes, Battle Back and Combat Stress.
Business and Other Briefings
Defra: Family-run restaurants & independent shops will be able to save money & access better recycling under a new deal between Government and the waste industry, Environment Minister Lord Henley announced recently.
Under the Responsibility Deal, a key commitment in the recently-published Waste Review, the Government will work with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) to help businesses prevent waste & recycle more of the waste they do produce. Businesses across the UK have the potential to save up to £18bn a year by taking steps to reduce waste that will cost them either nothing or very little in the short term.
DECC: Simplification proposals for CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and Climate Change Agreements have been revealed and proposals to make the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme simpler, easier & more straightforward have been outlined.
The proposals will be formally consulted on early next year but comments from participants are encouraged now. The Government will also shortly start a consultation to revise the Climate Change Agreements (CCAs) to make it less burdensome on businesses and more effective until it finishes in 2023.
DECC: Cash to take marine power devices to the next level of development has been announced by Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker on a visit to Pelamis Wave Power at Leith Docks in Edinburgh. Generating energy from the power of waves or tides has the potential to meet 15-20% of the UK’s current electricity demand by 2050 as well as helping to reduce emissions to fight climate change.
Up to £20 million from DECC’s budget of over £200m to fund low carbon technologies, announced at the Spending Review, will help progress the development of marine devices from the current large scale prototypes to bigger formations in the sea.
DSTL: A team of researchers looking at new light-weight, low-cost, environmentally friendly ceramic body armour has won a prestigious Venture Prize from the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers. The body armour, which received funding from the Ministry of Defence, was developed by Dr Hywel Jones at Sheffield Hallam University's Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) and Dr Anthony Pick, a ceramic consultant from Barnsley.
The new material is made using a combination of several ceramic systems, a carbide, anitride and a number of oxides, forming a novel, strong, hard but light ceramic composite. It combines the advantages of lower weight, lower cost of production and the ability to be made in different sizes and shapes - while still having the ballistic performance required by the armed forces.
BIS: Students across the country are being given the chance to see one of the UK’s vanguard industries, as companies in the automotive sector throw open their doors in a pilot for a new government initiative. As part of the ‘See Inside Manufacturing programme’, the Government & industry are calling on the budding young engineers of tomorrow to see how they can play a role in designing, developing or producing some of the world’s most desired and ground-breaking products.
The automotive sector is spearheading the campaign this year inviting pupils, teachers & careers advisers to see first hand some of the UK’s world-class automotive & motorsport facilities and research centres. They will be able to talk to apprentices and learn more about modern high-value manufacturing and the wide range of rewarding jobs in this exciting and diverse sector.
The full schedule of activities is available on the Automotive Council website. The open days will take place between 10 & 21 October 2011.
Defra: Scientists at East Malling Research are developing varieties of strawberry that are better able to cope with the predicted effects of climate change, particularly higher summer temperatures and less rainfall. The new varieties will require less water to grow and need fewer chemical inputs, therefore reducing the environmental impact of strawberry production in the UK.
WAG: Transport Minister, Carl Sargeant, has confirmed that Amey and URS/Scott Wilson have won a 4-year contract to manage, maintain and improve the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) throughout Wales. This includes all the associated telecommunications & tunnel systems for the entire motorway & trunk road network in Wales.
MoD: The MOD has announced the 4 bidders short-listed for a major new contract to provide up to £500m of Hard Facilities Management (Hard FM) to the Defence estate across Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Regional Prime Scotland and Northern Ireland is the first of Defence Infrastructure Organisation's (DIO) four contracts to deliver maintenance and repairs at UK Defence bases from 2013.
The shortlisted bidders are: Carillion Enterprise Ltd; Interserve (Defence) Ltd; Babcock Support Services Ltd; and TurnerHenry. The contract is currently estimated to be worth between £300m - £500m over a 5-year period. It will also include options for estate management & maintenance of rural areas, and smaller construction projects. SMEs can potentially benefit under the new arrangements by working closely as part of the successful bidder's supply chain.
EH: The Festival of History returns to Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire on 16 & 17 July 2011 for a weekend of ‘clashing swords, thundering hooves and epic battles’. One of the highlights this year is a replica WWI trench, recreated by a team who have been working on Steven Spielberg's latest movie War Horse.
In the Family Activity Area children will find dozens of fun activities to take part in, from dressing up as a Roman soldier to taking a role on stage in a play. There'll also be juggling shows and an intriguing Victorian travelling show featuring Lionel the sharpshooting lobster! Visitors can then unwind at the traditional Victorian seaside where you can build a sandcastle, watch a Punch & Judy show, or just relax in a deck chair.
ACE: Registration is now open for Digital days. The events (see press release for dates), which will take place across the country in July 2011, aim to share ideas & approaches to digital technologies for the arts & cultural sectors, and to present the Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture within the Arts Council's wider digital strategy & activities.
The Digital days are open to people working in senior roles within arts & cultural organisations (from England) and especially those who work on planning or producing digital content. This event is also suitable for technology companies that are interested in working with the arts and culture sector.
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