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WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

HMTTo be asked to ‘pay more for less’ is always upsetting, especially when the extra payments seem un-necessary to fund the pension - The Cabinet Office, Department for Education and the NHS have published consultations on pension contribution increases for civil servants, teachers and NHS staff for the financial year 2012/13.

The proposed increases will deliver over £1bn of the £1.2bn savings in 2012/13, as set out in the Spending Review 2010.  The proposals represent 40% of the average 3.2 percentage point increase in public service pension contributions which the Government announced it would phase in from next year.

The consultations apply to the Civil Service in England, Scotland & Wales; the NHS in England & Wales and teachers in England & Wales and will affect approximately 2.5m public service workers.  Scheme specific talks will make proposals by the end of October 2011 on how savings of £2.3bn in 2013/14 and £2.8bn in 2014/15 are achieved.
Press release & links  ~ CO press release ~ DH Consultation PR ~ DfE Consultation PR ~ FDA comment ~ TUC comment ~ PCS union comment ~ Unite union comment ~ CIPD comment ~ Previously: FDA reacts with fury to Treasury statement on public sector pensions ~ TUC response ~ PCS comment ~ Click HERE and scroll down forPSPC:  Will this be ‘it’, or will they continue to ‘move the goalpost’ every couple of years? ~ Related DWP PR ~ Research exploring the effect of uprating by CPI on occupational pension schemes ~ Andrew Lansley attacks government's public sector pension reforms

TUC:  Converting to a low carbon economy is not going to happen of its own accord - UK companies producing steel, cement, ceramics, glass, aluminium and chemicals are vital to the UK economy, but face serious risks as a result of rising energy costs says a new study published by the TUC and the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG).

Technology Innovation for Energy Intensive Industry in the United Kingdom - prepared for the two organisations by the Centre for Low Carbon Futures - says that these energy intensive companies must innovate to survive, and calls on the government to make sure there is a place for them in its plans for the low carbon economy of the future.

These industries directly employ some 125,000 people in 2,800 individual businesses around the UK, and many more employees are to be found within their supply chains.  The annual turnover of the UK's energy intensive sector is approximately £23bn, which contributes around £5bn to the UK economy.

According to the report, much of the energy intensive sectors require 'transformative technologies' to cut their emissions significantly. Key priorities include carbon capture & storage for industries like steel & chemicals, process changes, and switching to biomass as an energy supply.
Press release ~ Technology Innovation for Energy Intensive Industry in the United Kingdom ~ Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) ~ Sacrificing jobs for no green benefit: Huhne's blinkered and dogmatic policies are self-contradictory ~ North Eastern industry to be decimated - and for what? ~ Mandatory reporting not the CRC will help make firms more energy efficient, says Policy Exchange ~ The Government risks failing to achieve emissions reduction targets despite its ambition, according to the CBI ~ Coalition carbon tax will not reduce carbon: New scheme could waste as much as £1bn ~ IPPR: Investing in Clean Energy: How can developed countries best help developing countries finance climate-friendly energy investments? ~ 6 innovative projects are eligible to compete for a share of Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund ~ Risky Business: Investing in the UK’s low-carbon infrastructure ~ Centre for Low Carbon Futures 

PC&PE:  It is harder to name one government ICT success than 10 expensive failures - The Government's over-reliance on large contractors for its IT needs combined with a lack of in-house skills is a ‘recipe for rip-offs’ according to a report by the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC).  The committee found that, as a result, IT procurement too often resulted in late, over budget IT systems that are not fit for purpose.

The report argues that the Government needs to do 4 things to break out of this relationship:
* Improve the information it holds on IT expenditure to help secure the best possible price for goods & services
* Publish more information about IT projects.
* Widen the supplier base by reducing the size of its contracts & greatly simplifying the procurement process to engage with innovative SMEs.
* Work in a more ‘agile’ manner.
Press release ~ Report: Government and IT - 'A recipe for rip-offs': Time for a new approach ~ MPs report on information and communications technology in government ~ ScotGov: Public sector ICT review ~ Planting the Flag: the Strategy for ICT-enabled local public services reform ~ e-Society: the full report (ONS) ~ Social media: why ICT management should lead their organisations to embrace ~ NAO criticises NHS computer care records scheme ~ CBI calls on the Government to harness the potential of information technology to transform public services ~ Institute for Government response to new Government ICT Strategy ~ Socitm’s Manifesto for an incoming Government: A Seven Point Plan for IT in Tomorrow’s Public Services ~ New ICT negotiating guide launched ~ Project Management and Full Design Team Services rates ~ Technical Assurance Services rates ~ NAO: Central government's use of consultants and interims ~ FiReControl: inadequately planned, poorly executed and badly managed ~ Click HERE & scroll down for Free Report: Vision, Action, Traction – Succeeding with Agile in Government ICT

WSL:  Opportunity to gain valuable media skills & experience - WorldSkills London 2011 is the biggest international Competition & event to take place in London before the 2012 London Olympics - and will be the biggest media operation in London this year.  So WorldSkills wants to ensure all visiting media - from the UK & overseas have a first-rate experience at the event.

A team from WorldSkills London, WorldSkills International, the Skills Funding Agency, National Apprenticeship Service working with agencies Band & Brown and Praise will operate a media centre, with audio-visual support from leading IT, film and photographic providers.

Organisers are looking for 100 media centre volunteers to work with them in w/c 3 October 2011 and to help to co-ordinate media attendance at the event, manage interview schedules for nations & competitors as well as be on hand to help any journalists.  Volunteers with a combination of PR & language skills will be especially welcome.

Full training will be given by the media centre team and volunteers will receive an official uniform, food & drinks while on duty, a Travelcard zones 1-4, valuable event training and a certificate as a memento of their WorldSkills London 2011 experience.
DH:  The difference between a fulfilled life in the community and institutional care - Plans to make it easier for people with disabilities to employ Personal Assistants to help them to live as full a life as possible have been revealed by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow. 

A Framework for Personal Assistants helps offer universal support for people with care needs as well as the PAs they employ.  It maintains the flexibility of the role, which makes them so vital in helping people with disabilities to live their lives & aims to increase the number of PAs available.

The publication is part of the personalisation agenda at the heart of the Government’s Vision for Adult Social Care to deliver services chosen by people to meet their individual needs.  By 2013, everyone eligible should be offered a personal budget to spend on the best care package for them.  

It is estimated that by 2025 this could create nearly 1.2m Personal Assistant jobs - there are currently less than 200,000 people working as Personal Assistants in England.
MoDFor some the journey in the opposite direction will only be the start of a long ‘battle’ to attain a ‘normal’ life again - A team of military medical personnel have completed a 3,580 miles run & cycle - the equivalent distance from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK, to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan - raising money for charity.

The 20-strong elite team hope to raise at least £3,580, to be split between the military patients' fund within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, SSAFA Norton House, Troop Aid, and the Mickey Vaggs Trust at the Army Benevolent Fund

People who would like to donate money to the challenge can do so through  You can also sponsor the team using your mobile phone, or alternatively, you can send a cheque (see press release for details).
UNICEFYet again the familiar haunting pictures fill our TV screens - In response to the UN declaration of famine in 2 regions of southern Somalia, UNICEF are calling for more funds to scale up their critical work in the region and encouraging the UK public to support them urgently to help save children’s lives.
Famine is declared when acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30%; more than 2 people per 10,000 die per day; and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities.  In some regions of Somalia acute malnutrition is now exceeding 50% and UNICEF is recording at least 6 per 10,000 children dying daily. To donate to UNICEF’s East Africa Appeal please go to, call 0800 037 9797, or text FAMINE to 70099 to make a £10 donation.
White Paper: G-Cloud – Securing the New Frontier - The Government Cloud (G-Cloud) is at the very heart of the Cabinet Office’s drive to implement, design and develop innovative systems for better and more efficient use of information, communication and digital technologies.

But government organisations must also consider the impact of software security, as the complexity of software applications means the process of securing them is not as mature as with network and hardware infrastructure.

A newly produced White Paper explores how government organisations can release the inherent power that the G-Cloud offers, whilst giving due consideration to software security. ‘Securing the New Frontier’ addresses the key issues and how to ensure the cloud readiness of your critical applications and infrastructure.

Click here to receive a free copy.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive 

General News

NE:  Emerging from obscurity, 10 previously unnamed British species are now enjoying some long-awaited limelight as the results of the competition to give them popular names were announced recently.  Thousands of people submitted entries in response to the 2011 Name a Species competition organised by Natural England and The Guardian.  The competition invited the public to give popular names to 10 British species that have until now been listed only in Latin.

Press release & links

DECC:  Householders across the country could get up to £1,250 of government funding to help towards the cost of installing renewable heating systems such as biomass boilers, air & ground source heat pumps and solar thermal panels. 

The Government’s new £15m ‘Renewable Heat Premium Payment’ scheme – which is open for applications until March 2012 - will support up to 25,000 installations.  The scheme will be mainly focused at around 4m households in Great Britain not heated by mains gas, who have to rely on higher carbon forms of heating which also tend to be more expensive than gas, such as heating oil & electric fires to keep warm.

Press release & links

SI:  A Survival International investigation has uncovered alarming evidence that some of Ethiopia’s most productive farmland is allegedly being ‘stolen’ from local tribes and leased to foreign companies to grow & export food – while thousands of its citizens starve during the devastating drought.

The region’s worst drought in 60 years has left millions starving. The Omo Valley tribes, are for now, relatively secure.  But SI reports that the government views them as ‘backward’ and is determined to ‘modernize’ them: it wants to turn them from self-sufficient farmers, herders & hunters into workers in vast plantations.  However, they ‘may be simply evicted from their land’. 

Press release & links

PCS:  The PCS union has called on the government to abandon proposed cuts to public sector pensions after a senior cabinet minister said the planned changes are ‘unrealistic’.  A leaked letter from health secretary Andrew Lansley to the Treasury is a 5-page demolition of the pension proposals.

The missive, revealed by the Daily Telegraph, says the plan will discriminate against women workers and cause people to drop out of pension schemes – leaving the social security budget to pick up the pieces.  Mr Lansley also said that unless the proposals are changed ‘it is difficult to see how a negotiated agreement could be reached with the trade unions’ – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Press release & links

NE:  Natural England met recently with Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Adviser at DEFRA and members of the SAC evidence review panel to discuss the findings of the Independent Review of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) that Professor Watson and his team have conducted.

Natural England is pleased that the Review has confirmed that the evidence base that they have supplied to inform the designation of 3 candidate/possible candidate SACs is robust and has been given a ‘clean bill of health’.  NE hope this Independent Review allays the concerns expressed by some stakeholders.

Press release & links

NA:  The National Archives is working with local authorities to pilot a web archiving model which will ensure important online information is preserved for future generations.  Currently, The NA works in partnership with the Internet Memory Foundation (IMF) to archive central government websites, but its remit does not extend to cover all the local government or community websites. 

The pilot will run in 7 local authority archives (covering more than 20 local authorities) where staff will be trained in how to develop a ‘curated’ web archive for their area and will be provided with free support from The NA and the IMF for the duration of the pilot. 

In parallel with this work, The NA is conducting an automated web crawl of local authority & NHS sites in the next 2 years to capture a wide variety of locally-held information, including datasets which are not currently preserved by

Press release & links ~ Internet Memory Foundation (IMF)

FSA:  Sainsbury’s is recalling a batch of its Taste the Difference Melting Middle 2 Smoked Haddock with Cheddar and Leek Fishcakes because they might be contaminated with small pieces of metal. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.

Press release & links

FSA:  Sainsbury’s has withdrawn its own-brand freefrom Stem Ginger Cookies with a ‘best before’ date of 23 December 2011, because the product has incorrectly been packed with Sainsbury’s freefrom Chocolate Chip Cookies that contain soya.  The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert advising anyone with an allergy to soya not to eat this product.

Press release & links

FSA:  Booker Ltd has recalled a batch of its own brand Euro Shopper Milk Chocolate because, due to a packaging error, the batch may contain nuts. The presence of nuts that are not mentioned on the label poses a health risk to those allergic to nuts. The Food Standards Agency has issued an allergy alert.

Press release & links

MoD:  RAF Chinook helicopter crews recently travelled to the to train for in the heat and high-altitude terrain of southern California .

Press release & links

C4L:  Change4Life’s latest campaign is The Really Big Summer Adventure – a 6-week-long summer holiday initiative designed to help families get active whilst school’s out.  The campaign provides parents & carers with loads of ideas, offers and competitions to get the family up and about – without breaking the bank.

And when families are at home they can still keep busy with the online ‘Fun Generator’ – an interactive tool available on the Change4Life website. The generator will provide over 100 free, entertaining indoor & outdoor activity ideas for groups of all sizes.  Inspiration for some of the games has come from real life parents & kids via the ‘activity collector’ application on the Change4Life Facebook page.

Press release & links

MoD:  The final phase of the MOD's pelvic protection system will be issued to troops on the front line in in the next few months along with a new Personal Clothing System.

Press release & links

IfG:  Professor Robert Cialdini was interviewed on the Today programme last week about new Influence at Work research using MINDSPACE techniques to reduce no-shows for GP appointments. A simple commitment device reduced non-attendance by 30%.  

Press release & links

HPA:  A multi-agency investigation has established a link between a batch of imported eggs and an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis Phage Type (PT) 14b infection in England & Wales.  174 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis PT 14b infection have been reported since the beginning of this year, the majority being in North West England (77 cases) and the West Midlands (35 cases).

Press release & links

NA:  The National Archives have added 8 new datasets to its collection on Labs, to give web developers a taste of the incredible range of data available within The National Archives and encourage them to experiment with new applications, online tools and ways of visualising data.

Press release & links

Policy Statements and Initiatives

HO:  The crime & security minister, James Brokenshire, has commented on a report which looks at how police forces are preparing to make financial savings.

Press release & links ~ MPA comment

DECC:  The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently approved an application under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for EDF Energy to construct & operate a Dry Fuel Store at the existing Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station at Leiston in Suffolk .  The new dry fuel store will be used to house unused & spent fuel, currently located in a wet storage pond on the site.

Press release & links

CO:  The 2-week Whitehall Internship programme aimed at talented students from under-represented groups officially opened last week.  Over 60 Year 12 students from across the country attended an opening ceremony with an interactive session from Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.

The scheme is a 2-week residential programme for 16-18 year olds from under-represented backgrounds, including black, asian and minority ethnic communities.  The aim of the placement is to provide the interns with a taster of the Civil Service and gain experience of a working environment. The students will also participate in evening activities and will receive skills sessions from Accenture and Clifford Chance.

Press release & links

SFA:  Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced Government backing for employer led projects to deliver the skills for growth in sectors ranging from healthcare to nuclear manufacturing.  Following the first round of applications to the £50m Growth and Innovation Fund, innovative proposals to deliver world class training in seven leading industries have been selected for further development.

Press release & links

DWP:  New statistics published by Department of Work & Pensions ‘show’ that 39% of those who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are assessed as fit for work The figures also show that a further 17% can do some work with the right help & support and that 36% of claims were closed before assessment was completed.

People who are found fit for work will now be supported through the new Work Programme, which rolled out across last month, which provides tailored support for people to get into sustained employment.  People who are found too sick or disabled will continue to receive unconditional support and a higher rate of benefit.

Press release & links ~ TUC comment

WAG:  More than 4,000 young people across North West Wales, who are at risk of falling out of school or further education, are set to benefit from a new £15m scheme to improve their chances of success, First Minister, Carwyn Jones, announced last week.

The Potensial initiative will target 11-16 year olds who are facing difficulties such as under achievement or absenteeism.  It will help target 16-19 year olds who are already in college, but are at risk of dropping out.  The project will also provide specialist support for young people with disabilities or who are in care as well as young carers to help them achieve their full learning potential.

Press release

BIS:  Plans to scrap or simplify more than 160 regulations, freeing the public & retailers from rules that are unnecessarily burdensome, overly bureaucratic or completely redundant have been announced by Business Secretary, Vince Cable.  The proposals are the first results from the Red Tape Challenge and will see significant changes to legislation that will make life easier for businesses and promote personal freedoms.

Press release & links ~ Red Tape Challenge

CLG:  The Audit Commission will outsource all its in-house local public audit work to the private sector in the next financial year, Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced.  The AC has already been asked to begin substantive preparations for outsourcing. The contracts, which start from 2012-13, are expected to run for 3 or 5 years giving local councils & other public bodies the time to plan for appointing their own auditors.

Press release & links

WAG:  The Welsh Government has set out its plan on how to support refugees & asylum seekers.  Launched by the Finance Minister, the new action plan aims to improve relationships between refugees & communities and help them integrate into Welsh life.

The Refugee Integration Strategy, accompanies the existing Refugee Inclusion Strategy, and sets out actions that the Welsh Government will undertake in conjunction with their partners, and also ways that the actions will be monitored & evaluated.

Press release & links ~ Refugee Inclusion Strategy Action Plan ~ Refugee Inclusion Strategy 

HO:  The Home Secretary has recently told companies: 'improve your organisation by helping more women to get into top jobs'.  In a joint letter to FTSE 350 companies, Theresa May and Business Secretary Vince Cable have set out a strong business case for increasing representation of women in senior positions to at least 25% by 2015.  The letter follows Lord Davies' review of women on boards and comes a week after the launch of a code of conduct for companies who help find & recruit individuals to fill senior positions.

Recent figures show that companies with more women on their boards were found to out-perform their rivals with a 42% higher return in sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.

Press release & links

HO:  A new organised crime strategy sets out how law enforcement agencies will work together in the UK & abroad to disrupt international criminal networks, freeze criminal assets and keep communities safe.  Serious organised crime is on the increase in the .  There are around 38,000 organised criminals in the and around 6,000 organised crime groups.  It costs the public between £20bn & £40bn each year.

Press release & links

CLG:  The Government's Champion for Active Safer Communities has set out her top 3 priorities to help people make a difference to their neighbourhoods.  In a new report, Baroness Newlove pinpoints the availability of easy to access online information, a new drive for public sector volunteering and the tackling of binge and underage drinking, as key to achieving her goals.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  A £25,000 grant from Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG) and £14,100 direct Scottish Government support will fund skills training for entrants to the 12-to-17-year-old category in this year's FilmG competition.  FilmG is MG ALBA's short film competition, which aims to uncover new talent for development on the Gaelic digital channel BBC ALBA and to produce significant new Gaelic content for the web.  It was first launched in 2008.

Press release & links


CLG:  A new, ‘simpler framework for the planning system that safeguards the environment while meeting the need for sustainable growth’ has been published for consultation (closes on 17 October 2011) by Planning Minister, Greg Clark.  

Ministers are inviting views on the draft National Planning Policy Framework - which streamlines national policy from over 1,000 pages to just 52 pages of policy - as part of a consultation to get the planning system right for current & future generations. 

The draft Framework draws on responses to an initial call for evidence earlier in the year.  Consultation workshops have been arranged across the country to hear directly from people with an interest.  The Government intends to consult on simplifying other guidance on national policy as the next step.

Press release & links ~ WWF comment

Ofsted:  Ofsted has launched a consultation (closes on 30 September 2011) on changes to the inspection of local authority children’s services.  The proposals focus on the child’s journey as a key element in the inspection of child protection and for children in care.  Through inspection, the changes aim to improve the services children receive and how these impact on their lives.

The review of the inspection system follows the recommendations from The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final report; A child-centred system. The new arrangements are due to be implemented in May 2012.  It is proposed that inspection will look at all stages of a child’s experience from early intervention right through to when a child is referred to the children’s social care services and on to their exit from the child protection system.  

Press release ~ Arrangements for the inspection of local authority children’s services

Defra:  Defra has launched a consultation (closes on 17 October 2011) on proposals for reforming the registration system for town & village greens.  The proposals in this consultation will not prevent the protection of any existing registered greens and any changes to the registration system will not bring the designation of new greens to an end.

It asks whether the registration system can strike a better balance between protecting quality green spaces valued by local people and securing the new homes, jobs & essential infrastructure the country needs.

Press release & links

NICE:  Draft guidance from NICE's Diagnostics Assessment Programme on 2 genetic tests used to diagnose familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) have been issued for consultation. The provisional recommendations do not support the use of the Elucigene and LIPOchip tests in the NHS in for the confirmation of a clinical diagnosis of FH or for the screening of relatives of people with confirmed FH.  The consultation closes on 23 August 2011 and final guidance is expected to be published in December 2011.

Press release & links

FSA:  An independent committee of scientists appointed by the FSA has considered an application from a Spanish company for approval to market cockerel combs extract as a novel food ingredient. Views are wanted on the expert committee’s draft opinion.  Any comments on the draft opinion should be emailed to the ACNFP secretariat by Saturday 6 August 2011. The comments will be considered by the committee before it finalises its opinion on this novel food ingredient.

Press release & links

Ofcom:  Phone users with hearing and/or speech impairments stand to benefit from new measures being proposed for consultation (closes on 20 October 2011) by Ofcom.  By law, communications providers must provide ‘text relay’ services for disabled consumers. This involves a relay assistant converting typed messages into speech and then back again, allowing consumers with hearing and/or speech impairments to communicate on the phone.

Ofcom research has found that these conversations can be slow and sometimes fail to flow naturally.  Ofcom is therefore proposing to upgrade services by introducing a number of modifications to bring the experience more in line with voice communications.  This includes a new feature that will allow users to interject during a conversation, instead of having to wait until the end of a message.  Ofcom is also setting out options for the introduction of video relay for British Sign Language (BSL) users.

Press release & links

OFT:  The Office of Fair Trading has provisionally decided to refer the market for statutory audit services to large companies in the to the Competition Commission for a market investigation.  A final decision will be taken following a 6-week consultation period.  Interested parties wishing to respond to the consultation can send written representations to the OFT before 9 September 2011 by email.

Press release & links

DH:  The Department of Health has launched a consultation (closes on 21 October 2011) on proposed changes to the level of contributions made by NHS Pension Scheme members towards their pension – See also ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Editor’s Note
:  The DH has agreed that the examples could be ‘clearer’.  For example ‘As a manager working full-time earning £60,000  ……………  you will earn pension of £1,000 per year, with the option to exchange some of this for a tax free lump sum, payable at age 65’.  

This means that for an ‘effective (net) contribution rate of 5.1%, equivalent to £3,060 per annum’ that one year’s lump sum payment would earn a pension of £1,000 per year at age 65.  One’s actual total final pension would be made up of many years worth of ‘one year’s lump sum’ payments. 
Press release & links

DfE:  The Department for Education has launched a consultation (closes on 20 October 2011) on proposed changes to the contribution rate for employees in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.   See also ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Press release & links

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE:  A treatment for severe asthma that applies heat to the walls of the airway could reduce symptoms and improve quality of life, says draft guidance from NICE.  Current treatments range from taking inhaled therapies to using oral corticosteroids (tablets used to reduce inflammation in the whole body).

NICE has published draft guidance on bronchial thermoplasty. This procedure aims to remove some of the smooth muscle in the airway, consequently decreasing the ability of the airways to constrict, and lowering the severity of asthma symptoms and the amount of medication requirements.

Press release & links

CBI:  The CBI recently welcomed a new voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms to help improve gender diversity in boardrooms (Room at the Top).

Press release & links

NO: Using insight from complaints effectively can support wider learning in councils and help drive service improvement, says a new publication from the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS).  Aiming for the best: Using lessons from complaints to improve public services’ provides guidance for councils focusing on the role of overview & scrutiny committees. 

The guide has been produced jointly by the LGO and CfPS to help develop understanding about gaining customer insight from complaints to improve the planning and delivery of individual services or contribute to corporate learning & improvement.  It is aimed at councillors and officers supporting overview and scrutiny committees, by reinforcing the active role they can play in this.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  Scotland's farmers are being urged to double check that they have only claimed eligible land for support on their Single Application Form (SAF) 2011.  Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, reminded farmers that it was their responsibility to ensure that claims were only submitted for eligible land.  He suggested they should pay particular attention where there had been a change of use of the permanent or seasonal land they had claimed.

Press release & links

CLG:  The Government will allow councils to apply to borrow & sell against their assets to help councils tackle historic pay inequalities while protecting frontline services, Local Government Minister Bob Neill has announced.

Guidance for how councils should apply has been issued.  The deadline for applications is 16 September 2011.  Last October the Government announced 21 councils had the go-ahead to borrow against or sell assets up to £250m to meet & manage one-off costs of equal pay compensation.

Press release & links

NICE:  Patients with kidney failure should be given balanced advice ‘so that they can make informed decisions about their choice of dialysis treatment’, says NICE.  Guidance published last week by NICE is the first in & to help people with kidney failure make informed decisions about which choice of dialysis treatment to have.

Press release & links

NICE:  NICE has published a new quality standard for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Developed from the best available evidence, (usually NICE guidance or NHS Evidence-accredited sources), this new quality standard add to the library of standards already published.

Press release & links

TSA:  Guidance has been published which provides information on the requirements for delivery of new Affordable Rent homes, where those are not in receipt of funding from the HCA under the Affordable Homes Programme

Press release & links

NICE:  A recently licensed drug that helps control seizures in adults who have epilepsy has been recommended for use in the NHS.  Final guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that retigabine (also called Trobalt, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline) should be prescribed as an add-on treatment option if other medicines have been ineffective or produced unmanageable side effects.

Press release & links

LR:  Land Registry has updated its guide on land banking to warn the public about the risks involved in buying land forming part of a land banking scheme. These are schemes where it is claimed that the plots of land have good investment value in the expectation of future development but where there is little or no chance of land ever being developed.  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) recently estimated that land banking schemes have cost investors as much as £200m.

Press release & links

Annual Reports

WAG:  Progress is being made in improving the environment in .  The latest figures show that, of the 100 indicators that have been defined & where information exists, 47% show an improvement and only 5 indicators show a decline.  The report shows improvements in many areas across including recycling, bathing water quality and fly tipping.

Press release & links

PC&PE:  The Ministry of Defence (MoD) must put into the public domain the full cost of military operations in , says the Defence Select Committee in its report into the MoD Main Estimates for 2011–12.  The report notes that although there are obvious standing expenses, the Afghan deployment brings with it additional costs in terms of training opportunities cancelled or deferred and equipment wear & tear that will eventually have to be met.

Press release & links

EC:  The Electoral Commission – the independent elections watchdog – has published the financial accounts of political parties & accounting units with gross income or total expenditure exceeding £250,000 for the year ending 31 December 2010.

Press release & links

General Reports and Other Publications

JRF:  New Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) research reveals local fears about the impact of cuts on Bradford and the demand for new strategies for economic growth & employment, particularly for young people. The report also highlights that poverty & stresses between different communities are still major concerns, with people feeling let down by local & national leaders. The 4 reports offer a comprehensive view on what has happened in the city, how local people feel and how Bradford has fared during the economic downturn.

Press release & links

Socitm:  Socitm Insight has carried out a mini website survey of the usefulness & usability of 9 high profile city-based hospitals in England.  The survey assessed how easy it was to complete 5 common tasks likely to be high on the priority list of every patient.  The survey revealed a distinct lack of customer focus likely to leave patients & visitors struggling to find key information.

Press release & links

CSJ:  Marriage is integral to tackling family breakdown says the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in response to IFS study – ‘Cohabitation, marriage, relationship stability and child outcomes’.  Broadly, the headline claim of the paper that ‘Marriage does not improve children's development’ is questionable given the many caveats & nuances contained within the body of research, as well as the fact it takes a very narrow measurement of marriage’s impact on children. 

Press release & links

NLGN:  A new White Paper from localism think tank the New Local Government Network suggests that by following a model of bulk purchasing from energy providers recently launched in The Netherlands, councils can create significant savings for their residents.

The innovation undertaken earlier this year by a Dutch organisation, Met de Stroom Mee, yielded a 20% saving in energy costs for households.  If councils imitate this model in the UK, even a 10% equivalent efficiency would result in a £125 reduction in costs to consumers.

Press release & links

PC&PE:  The Commons Home Affairs Committee ‘deplores’ News International's attempt to ‘deliberately thwart’ the original investigation into phone hacking in 2005-06, but also states that the police set aside a huge amount of material that could have identified other perpetrators and victims.

Press release & links

IfG:  The Institute for Government has welcomed the announcement that Minister for Decentralisation, Greg Clark, will take on the additional role of Minister for Cities, reporting to Vince Cable, the Business Secretary.

The Institute’s work in this area suggests that the introduction of strong, locally elected mayors provide a vital opportunity for addressing these difficulties and stimulating growth.  However, in the briefing note, 'Better Mayors', the Institute argues that current proposals for mayors do not yet go far enough.

Press release & links

PC&PE:  The Treasury Committee has called on the Independent Commission on Banking to address a number of concerns that have been raised about its proposal to ring-fence retail banking – including its effect on the competitiveness of banking and the cost of credit to business. 

The Select Committee has also asked the ICB to look at how corporate governance in banks could be improved to enhance the stability of the financial system in its final report due out in September 2011.

Press release & links

FRC:  The principle of ‘comply or explain’ plays an essential part in promoting best practice in corporate governance, says the Financial Reporting Council in a submission to the European Commission published recently.

The FRC’s submission recognises the need to make the system work better.  In particular it will be promoting a dialogue with companies & investors in the coming months to seek a consensus in the market about what constitutes a clear explanation to shareholders if a company deviates from the UK Corporate Governance Code.

Press release & links

CBI:  The CBI has called on the Government to fundamentally rethink its approach to employment law in order to bolster workplace flexibility and foster better employment relations.  Launching its first ever digital report Thinking Positive: the 21st century employment relationship, produced in collaboration with Hays, the CBI explores how the employment relationship has changed, becoming even more flexible.

The report includes video interviews with employees & staff on the benefits of good communication & flexibility, and looks at how this helped minimise private sector job losses during and post-recession.

Press release & links

PX:  Customers could benefit from improved customer services, lower prices & saving water if the water services market in England & Wales was deregulated, according to new research from leading think tank Policy Exchange.

The study, Water Retail Services Competition in England and Wales: Still Hobson’s Choice?, recommends that vertically-integrated local water monopolies should be partially broken up, with businesses & public sector organisations given the right to choose their water retail suppliers.

Press release & links

PC&PE:  The Government's proposals for opening up probation services to competition need further thought, MPs on the Justice Committee have warned in a new report.  The committee believes that the Government's proposals for payment by results and wider competition in the provision of rehabilitative services are limited because they separate the commissioning of prison places from the commissioning of every other form of sentence provision. 

They criticised the very large & incoherent areas used for the tendering of community payback contracts, which they say should not be a model for future commissioning.  MPs were also concerned that frontline probation staff spend three-quarters of their time doing administrative tasks rather than meeting directly with offenders.

Press release & links

DWP:  Research has been published by the Department for Work and Pensions which presents the findings from a quantitative survey designed to: develop the evidence base around work & health and workplace health initiative from the employee perspective; and to provide baseline data so that progress on health & well-being at work can be measured and monitored over time.

Press release ~ DWP Research Report No 751, Health and well-being at work: A survey of employees

HPA:  It is estimated that around 216,000 individuals in the are living with chronic hepatitis C, many of whom are unaware of it. Those individuals who have not yet been diagnosed & treated are at risk of developing serious liver disease. Latest Health Protection Agency (HPA) figures have estimated that around 4,200 people in would need a liver transplant as a result of hepatitis C by 2020 if action is not taken.

It is therefore critical that anyone who suspects they could have been exposed to Hepatitis C (for example by using unsterile or sharing injecting equipment) is tested.  The future burden of hepatitis C-related infections is set out in 'Hepatitis C in the ', a report produced by the HPA to coincide with World Hepatitis Day on 28 July 2011.

Press release & links ~ Hepatitis C in the UK: 2011 report 

CQC:  The Care Quality Commission has told the Castlebeck Care Group that it has serious concerns about 4 of the services run by the group, and that a further 7 do not fully comply with essential standards of quality and safety.

Press release & links ~ Independent Safeguarding Authority comment

PC&PE:  A report released by the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee calls for changes to the Government's Draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill.  Among other things, the committee calls for the powers to fine to be made clear on the face of the Bill, and also wants changes to allow indirect suppliers such as farmers & trade associations (and whistleblowers) to be able to provide the evidence that would spark an investigation by the adjudicator.

Press release & links

CQC:  The Care Quality Commission have published the last batch of reports from the Dignity and nutrition inspection programme.

Press release & links

DWP:  Research was published recently by the Department for Work and Pensions which presents the findings from a quantitative survey that was designed to collect robust evidence on attitudes held amongst the working-age population towards the relationship between work and health.

Press release & links ~ DWP Research Report No 763 – Attitudes to health and work amongst the working age population

CIPD:  A desire to ‘increase pay and benefits’ has become the number one reason why employees want to change jobs, overtaking ‘improving job satisfaction’ in the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Employee Outlook survey, as the economic downturn continues to erode people’s standard of living.

Press release & links

CQC:  Children & young people who offend are more likely to receive the health services they need following improved working by youth offending teams, says a joint report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation).

‘Re:Actions, the third review of healthcare in the community for young people who offend’ looks at how Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) help provide health services to the children & young people they work with.

Press release & links

DWP:  Over 7m disabled people in the are being prevented from getting jobs or reaching their full potential by employers & recruitment providers who are imposing a ‘glass ceiling’ upon them according to a DWP Disability Steering Group.

The steering group have called for other employers to rethink their attitude towards disabled people.  They are also encouraging employers to sign up to Clearkit – an online resource, developed by employers, which helps identify & remove barriers in the recruitment of disabled people.  The aim is to sign up 1,000 organisations to the resource by October 2011 so that 500 more businesses make their recruitment practices fairer for disabled people.

Press release & links

IPPR:  The government should establish a new ‘National Salary Insurance’ to give people extra cash when they lose their job but require them to repay it when they return to work, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research ( IPPR) in a new report.

IPPR argues that a new National Salary Insurance could offer working people who become unemployed up to 70% of their previous earnings in non-means tested support for up to 6 months (capped at a maximum of £200 a week). This would incorporate their existing entitlement to contributory JSA (£67.50 a week), trebling the amount of support available to people when they lose their job.

Press release & links

PC&PE: In a major report released last week, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee says big changes need to be made to the way football is run in England to address financial instability & levels of debt in the game, and to secure its future.

Press release & links

Legislation / Legal

ICO:  The University of York breached the Data Protection Act by failing to close a test area on its website that contained thousands of students’ personal details, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said recently.  While no direct link was available for the test area from the University’s website, 148 records were inappropriately accessed.  The information included students’ names, dates of birth, A-level results, mobile telephone numbers and addresses. 

The Information Commissioner will shortly launch the 2011 Student Brand Ambassador campaign aimed at spreading the word on how people can exercise their rights under the Data Protection Act, including tips on how to keep personal information secure.  15 students from universities across the will act as champions and ambassadors.
Press release & links

EA:  The Environment Agency is the first enforcement body to use new civil sanctions - against an organisation that broke environmental regulations - as an alternative to criminal prosecution.  The EA has accepted an offer of £21,000 from Invensys PLC - an engineering & information technology company headquartered in London - for packaging waste offences.  

This funding will be given to specified organisations to drive environmental improvements in local communities.  By using civil sanctions in this way the EA is using its enforcement powers to ensure compliance and drive environmental improvements from regulatory breaches.

Press release & links

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News:  Settling disputes & disagreements through courts is often costly & time-consuming.  Cross-border cases are particularly complex due to different national laws and practical matters like costs or language. The European Union Mediation Directive – which was adopted on 21 May 2008 (IP/08/628) and is in force since 21 May 2011– applies when two parties who are involved in a cross-border dispute voluntarily agree to settle their dispute using an impartial mediator. 

All EU Member States should now have measures in place to transpose the EU legislation.  However, 9 countries have not yet notified all national measures needed to fully implement the Directive. As a result, the European Commission began legal proceedings by sending ‘letters of formal notice’ to the following countries: The Czech Republic, Spain, France, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.  The countries have 2 months to respond.

Press release & links

PC&PE:  'Subsidiarity' is the principle that the EU should only act if the objectives of that course of action could not be achieved by Member States, either at a central level or at a regional or local level.  Under the Lisbon Treaty, if a national parliament decides that a proposal from the EU does not comply with this principle, it can send the EU institutions a ‘reasoned opinion’- a message explaining why it considers that the proposal does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity. 

At the moment, motions asking for reasoned opinions to be sent to the EU institutions can only be moved by Ministers, even though the Government might not agree with them. This can create a confusing & illogical situation in which a Minister moves a motion but then makes a speech against it. The Committee’s report recommends a change to the Standing Orders of the House to make it possible for the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee (which recommends that the House consider the motion) to move a motion for a reasoned opinion.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has proposed stricter limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons and particulate matters for new motor boats, sailing boats, jet skis and other recreational crafts.  In summer NOx concentrations of the some 6m recreational craft in the EU can be significant in the areas of big lakes & attractive sea shores.   Last week’s proposal for a revised Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) will also improve market surveillance, for example by updating the rules on CE marking.

Press release & links

EU News:  Last week, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers published the results of the public consultation on the upcoming revision of the Tobacco Products Directive. The public consultation generated an unprecedented 85,000 responses.  The vast majority of contributions came from individual citizens, illustrating the great interest in EU tobacco control policy. Other respondents represented industry, non-governmental organisations, governments and public authorities.

Press release & links

EU News:  One in six Europeans plan to take their main holiday outside the EU this year. Overall, Europeans take around 90m trips outside the EU every year for business or pleasure. But what happens if you need help when abroad and your country has no embassy or consulate where you are staying? 

All EU citizens have certain European citizenship rights.  For instance, you can request assistance from another EU country's embassy or consulate in case your own country is not represented.  This right applies to everyday situations, like a passport being stolen, a serious accident or illness, as well as during crises – such as the recent events in  

To increase awareness of this right, all new passports in the EU will have information on consular protection printed along with the address of the EU's dedicated website providing details on where you can find help during your holidays outside the EU:

Press release & links

CH:  A new Chatham House briefing paper, 'On Europe’s Fringes: Russia, Turkey and the European Union', examines what impact the Turkish & Russian economies – and their relations with each other and Brussels – will have on Europe.  Both & are rising powers on the fringes of a declining European Union, and both countries have awkward relations with Brussels .

Press release & links

Charity and Voluntary Sector

UKOC:  Community IT projects could get a boost this summer, thanks to a new round of funding from Nominet Trust and online centres.  Together, they’re providing new grant funding for grassroots organisations working in the heart of communities to get more people online.

The Community Outreach Fund will support innovative outreach projects, where organisations are working with local partners to reach new offline audiences in new locations.  Projects will be required to show the impact of their work on both individuals and the wider community. Applications for the Community Outreach Fund will close on 15 August 2011.  Grants of up to £5,000 are available and projects will be delivered between September 2011 & March 2012.

Press release & links ~ Nominet Trust

CO:  A £10m Investment and Contract Readiness Fund is being made available to charities & social enterprises to help them develop the skills & infrastructure to win more capital investment and public service contracts Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, announced recently.

The Minister outlined plans in an open letter to the sector.  As well as new opportunities to earn income from public service contracts, civil society organisations will soon have more access to capital investment when the Big Society Bank opens for business.

Press release & links

SE:  With a year to go until the start of the ‘greatest sports festival on earth’, Sport England is again encouraging clubs across to see how they can benefit from the Sportsmatch programme.  Grants of between £1,000 up to £100,000 are currently available.  Already this year, national charity, StreetGames, has received £100,000 to match the investment it’s received from Coca-Cola GB to run a series of multi-sport festivals inspired by the London 2012 Games.

25,000 disadvantaged young people are expected to attend one of the 350 multi-sports events across the country.  Every attendee will get the chance to try a different activity and join local clubs. The highlight will be the chance to attend one of 18 large participation festivals at top venues in major cities to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Press release & links

BHF:  Measures to restrict unhealthy food in & could protect lives and save the NHS money, according to a new study.  Researchers suggest that laws or other measures to reduce salt intake by 3g a day could prevent 30,000 cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, and save the NHS £40m a year.  They also suggest that laws to reduce the amount of trans-fats we eat could save £230m a year.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  Communities across will be able to access more than £4m funding to improve sports facilities in their area.  The cash will be available over the next 4 years through sportscotland, the Scottish Government's national agency for sport.

Projects with a value of up to £100,000 will be available to community groups & sports clubs to upgrade & improve local facilities. This will help increase participation levels and provide support to sports in the run up to the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Press release & links

BHF:  British Heart Foundation policy officer Katie Chruszcz talks through new research into the effect of having calorie counts on menus in New York .

Press release & links

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 28/11

VAT: Changes to the treatment of certain supplies made by employers under salary sacrifice arrangements following the CJEU Judgment in Case C-40/09.

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 30/11

This brief explains HMRC's position following the First-Tier Tribunal decision in the case of The Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club case (TC/2009/122260). The appeal concerned the VAT liability of green fees charged by the golf club to non-members.

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 26/11

This brief explains the impact for taxes and tax credits of payments under the Equitable Life Payment Scheme (ELPS).

Industry News

FSA:  The Food Standards Agency has switched to a new electronic tendering system for procurement. The first projects being advertised are a survey of campylobacter in chicken and the development of a method for dietary assessment.

Adverts for research & other procurement opportunities will no longer be published on their website.  To receive notifications about future procurement opportunities at the FSA, suppliers must register on the new system.

Press release & links

HA:  The Highways Agency has announced a new supplier recognition scheme, aimed at recognising efforts by suppliers who demonstrate leading performance in driving down costs & delivering even more efficient & effective customer services.

The annual recognition programme will highlight the important contribution made by the Agency’s suppliers, who play a vital role in supporting the Agency in operating, maintaining & improving the strategic road network in efficiently and effectively.  Entries for this year will be invited from 1 September 2011.

Press release & links

MO:  Financial services can make more informed decisions thanks to increased understanding of the El Niño and La Niña climate cycles, according to a Met Office report.  Commissioned by the Lighthill Risk Network, the Global Impact of El Niño and La Niña Implications for Financial Services report states that there is a two-fold importance to the two cycles - which affect sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean .

Matt Huddleston, Met Office Principal Consultant and author of the report, said: "These cycles shift the risks of damaging hazards in recognisable ways and they can be predicted about six months in advance.  Clearly the periodic reduction of risk offers economic and societal benefits that, if known in advance, could be exploited." 

During the 2010/11 La Niña episode, the state of Queensland in Australia suffered losses estimated at $5.5bn, including devastation of the state's important sugar cane crop, disruption of coal mining and wheat transport, and extensive property damage.

Press release & links

WAG:  Welsh Government backed pilot training package pioneered by Admiral Group to ensure job seekers have the specific skills they require has helped scores of unemployed people gain qualifications and find work.

The pilot is geared to meet the on-going recruitment needs of Admiral - the only FTSE100 listed company headquartered in - while helping unemployed adults find work.  Job seekers benefit from an 8-week pre-employment training package to equip them with the skills required by Admiral - which also prepares them for work in the wider contact centre industry.

The pilot has exceeded it targets - 115 people completed the training; 97 achieved a Level 2 qualification in customer service; 84 achieved a Level 2 qualification in team leadership and to date more than half have already gained employment.

Press release & links

Forthcoming Event

NE:  Natural is providing free online information sessions on the new 3-Tier Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) application process, all available from the comfort of your own home or office.  The ‘webinars’ are designed for land agents or anyone interested in the new method of assessing HLS applications. All you need to take part in the webinars is access to the internet and a telephone.

Each information session will cover the background on the 3-Tier HLS process and how each of the ‘Fast-track’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Complex’ tiers will be assessed. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.  The new 3-Tier system has been brought in to help to make the HLS application process more streamlined and efficient for its farming customers.  Sessions will be on 19 August 2011 and 2 September 2011.

Press release & links

STFC:  The Science and Technology Facilities Council Futures Programme is holding a 2-day second workshop on environmental research (on 26 – 27 October 2011) which will build on the outputs from the November 2010 workshop and the current Environment Review by the STFC Physical and Life Sciences advisory committee.

The workshop is open to researchers supported by the STFC through grants or facility access, collaborative partners, STFC staff and members of the environmental science community.  The number of workshop participants will be limited to 50 and STFC aim to achieve a balance between the NERC & STFC research communities.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  Plans for a 3-year celebration of Scottish culture & creativity have been announced.  's Cultural Plan for London 2012 & Glasgow 2014 aims to promote Scottish culture & creativity on the world stage, increase international & domestic tourism and develop 's creative sector.   Beginning in 2012 (the Year of Creative ) and continuing into 2014, the cultural showcase will provide opportunities for the whole nation to take part in the celebrations.

Press release & links

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