In the News
The WGPlus editorial team welcomes back its readers from the summer break and reminds them that those wishing to catch up on the news from the last 4 weeks can do so by reading both this newsletter and the 'interim newsletter' published 2 weeks ago.
Ofsted: ‘End of Term’ report concludes LA’s could do a lot better - Too few young people with learning difficulties & disabilities progress from school to complete programmes that will help them live independently, undertake further study, or gain employment.
An Ofsted report - ‘Progression post-16 for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities’ - found that learning opportunities beyond school for young people with learning difficulties & disabilities varies considerably between local areas.
Inspectors found that the local authorities’ arrangements to provide learners with a learning difficulty assessment as the basis for their transition to post-16 provision were not working effectively. Providers had received a learning difficulties assessment in only a third of the case studies, where it was appropriate. These assessments were ‘not always timely or adequately completed, which made it difficult to plan support’.
There was insufficient provision available for learners with the highest level of need and the current placement system resulted in significant inequities in the provision available for learners with similar needs. In the examples seen:
* the criteria used for placement decisions were not always clear
* local options were not adequately explored
* the recommendations were not always based on an objective assessment of need
Press release ~ Progression post-16 for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities ~ DfE analysis of the Youth Cohort Study and Longitudinal Study of Young People in England: The Activities and Experiences of 18-year-olds: England 2009, in Support and aspiration: a new approach to special educational needs and disability, DfE, 2011 ~ EHRC: Careers guidance ‘aspiration gap’ ~ Using computer games to support learning ~ Supporting children with challenging behaviour through a nurture group approach ~ Support and Aspiration: A New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability ~ SEN and disabilities Green Paper consultation ~ LGA response to Green paper ~ Use of resources in special schoolsWWF: Global warming may mean ‘water, water, everywhere’ but, as the song says, it may also mean ‘not a drop to drink’ - A new WWF report has shown that the likelihood of water shortages in global ‘megacities’ is set to escalate, with 70% of the world’s population projected to be living in urban areas by 2050.
Published during World Water Week, the report ‘Big Cities, Big Water, Big Challenges’ warns of severe water shortages worldwide by the middle of the century.
The report illustrates the already serious implications of poor water management in megacities around the world and focuses on 5 case studies, including:
* Mexico City, Mexico - over-exploitation of aquifers has contributed to the continued subsidence within the city (5-40 cm per year), increasing the chance of catastrophic flooding
* Buenos Aires, Argentina - the Riachuelo, one of the most polluted waters in the world, contains levels of lead, zinc and chrome 50 times higher than the legal limit in Argentina
* Karachi, Pakistan - 80% of untreated wastewater is discharged into the Arabian Sea and around 30,000 people, mostly children, die each year in the city due to consumption of contaminated water
The report also highlights the importance of calculating water footprints, which measure the total volume of water used to produce goods & services and the effects of pollution from waste water. Water footprints can incorporate a more holistic assessment of the demand placed on water resources by humans, to calculate availability of water and help supply more water to megacities and reduce impact on freshwater environments.
Press release ~ Enter on-line ~ List of categories & award criteriaTfL: Facilitating the journey of education that opens up an Oyster of life opportunities - With the end of summer fast approaching, Transport for London (TfL) want to encourage all 16-17 year olds in the Capital to fill in their 16+ Zip Oyster photocard form which they should have received through the post. Any young person who does not receive one should collect an application form from the Post Office from 1 September 2011.
The 16+ Oyster photocard offers free travel on buses & trams and half adult rate on other TfL services to those young Londoners studying a Level 3 course, apprenticeship or training course funded by the Young People's Learning Agency and some courses funded by the Skills Funding Agency. Their school, college or training provider will be able to tell them if their course qualifies.
Press release & linksDUK: Did you have a good summer? - Diabetes UK wants to know all about it and are asking you to share your favourite summery photos with them. They will publish the top photos and you will get the chance to vote for a winner. The competition winners will receive a fantastic Kodak Playsport Video Camera, kindly donated by Kodak Limited. The closing date for this competition is Sunday 2 October 2011.
White Paper : Beyond Tick-Box Compliance: UK Public Sector Data Security - Demonstrating compliance and adherence to government security standards like Security Policy Framework (SPF), Government Secure Extranet (GCSx) Code of Connection, and Good Practice Guide (GPG) 13 are known core requirements to public sector department. But the value of compliance as it relates to data protection is often forgotten as department focus on ticking the compliance box to gain accreditation, pass an external penetration test/audit or complete a report. Yet the Security Policy Framework states, "protective security...is an essential enabler to making government work better. Security risks must be managed effectively, collectively and proportionately, to achieve a secure and confident working environment."
Move beyond tick-box compliance auditing to implementing and enforcing security standards to make government work better and mitigate risk. In this white paper, you will learn how a holistic security programme can demonstrate compliance, reduce expenditures and protect confidential and restricted data.
Click here to receive your free copy of 'UK Public Sector Data Security: Beyond Tick-Box Compliance'.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
ScotGov: The East Mingulay proposal, which is approximately 13 kilometres east of the island of Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides and features the rare & fragile coral reef lophelia pertusa, has been approved by Scottish Ministers as a Special Area of Conservation. The proposal will now be submitted to the European Commission for inclusion in the European Union-wide 'Natura' network of protected areas.
BS: Buying Solutions have announced the availability of the Local Government Software Application Solutions framework agreement, which provides an efficient & cost effective route to purchase software that supports the activities of local government such as planning or social care.
Socitm: An audit for Socitm of 603 public sector websites, including the main sites of all local authorities and 170 other public service organisations, including fire, police, housing and PTEs has shown that ‘all but 6 of them have cookies that will require them to take action to comply with the new legislation that came into force on 26 May 2011’.
The new law requires website owners to provide their visitors with an opportunity to give their consent to having cookies downloaded on to their computers or mobile devices. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which is responsible for enforcing the new law in the UK, has allowed all organisations one year to make the necessary changes – although complaints about serious breaches will be investigated during this period.
MoD: A soldier who lost both his legs following an explosion in Helmand province in 2009 has been given the keys to his new wheelchair-accessible home, thanks to a host of military support services.
MO: The Met Office, in collaboration with the Universities ofBristol and Cambridge, is launching an online weather game to ‘investigate how we respond to different representations of probabilities, particularly for use in presenting weather forecasts’.
The weather game project (led by Liz Stephens from the University of Bristol) will run for one month and aims to be the largest and most comprehensive study into the understanding of how weather probabilities are communicated. It takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.
MoD: A group of soldiers whose task it is to clear routes in Helmand province of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) recently emerged from their Mastiff armoured vehicle unscathed when a device exploded underneath it.
The vehicle sustained some damage, but, thanks to the armour and design of the Mastiff, it was only minor, and after a further assessment by the team of the route, the patrol continued with their journey. Part of the Mastiff's resilience towards mine explosions comes from the fact that its hull is V-shaped, as opposed to flat, which pushes the force of any explosion outwards.
Socitm: Socitm Insight has announced changes in the way in which council websites will be assessed for the Better connected 2012 report.
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) has welcomed this year's GCSE pass rate of 69.8% at grades A* to C, and the increase in A & A* grades awarded, up to 23.2% from 22.6% of entries last year.
Press release & links
ACE: Textiles, stained glass & ceramics will be placed under the limelight in a new television series. Handmade In Britain is a collaboration between the BBC and the Victoria and Albert Museum. To be broadcast on BBC4 this autumn, the series will also investigate the crafts of metalwork & woodwork, as well as ceramics, stained glass and textiles, often seen in stately homes, churches and palaces throughout the UK.
ICB: The Independent Commission on Banking will publish its Final Report on its website and via the London Stock Exchange’s Regulatory News Service at 7am BST on Monday 12 September 2011..
LSN: The Learning and Skills Networkis recruiting a national team of freelance associates to work on projects to support the setting up of Academies and Free Schools.
FSA: As a precaution, Asda is recalling all date codes of 6 Asda Chosen By You drinks due to the possible risk of choking associated with the sports caps on the bottles. There is a possibility that the white shutter cap could become loose. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: Marks & Spencer has withdrawn two date codes of its roast potatoes, because they contain gluten, wheat & milk that is not mentioned on the label., because they that is not mentioned on the label.
EA: Recently the Environment Agency released its list of the10 most improved rivers. A river that once ran black with coal is now an international match fishing destination. Another so polluted that it was described as ‘an affront to a civilised society’ is now a home for salmon, otters & water voles. And a London river that was officially declared a sewer in the 1960s has become one of the best urban fisheries in the country.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: The Government has published 8 technical papers, exploring how councils would be allowed to keep locally generated business rates, enabling them to borrow against future rate income. Legislation will be introduced later this year to allow changes to start as soon as possible.
There will be no change in the level of business rates, nor in the way that they are paid. Local charities, voluntary groups and small businesses will continue to get the same reliefs from Government.
DH: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has launched a call for new ideas for health apps that ‘would help patients make informed decisions about their care’. Everyone, including patients, doctors, nurses and other health professionals and app developers, is invited to submit new ideas of health apps & online maps they think would be useful.
One leading example of an app that benefits patients is Choosing Well, developed by NHS Yorkshire & Humber for their local community, which allows people to search for their nearest NHS health services. For the next few weeks, people can go online and suggest favourite apps, ideas for apps or health maps they would like to see, as well as vote for their favourite ideas submitted by others.
Defra: A plan to create better habitats and join up the homes of some of England’s most iconic wildlife has been published by Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman. ‘Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services’ aims to halt the loss of England’s habitats & species and follows up the global agreement reached at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) conference held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010.
Also launched was a national wildlife gardening competition (closes on Sunday 20 May 2012), set out in the Natural Environment White Paper as a way to encourage more people to make sure their gardens are providing a good home for animals & birds as well as recreation space for people. Prizes include a gardening masterclass at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, along with membership of The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society.
MoJ: Offenders will be made to do a full 5-day week of ‘hard work and job-seeking’, under new proposals for community sentences confirmed recently by Minister, Crispin Blunt. The work will include hard manual labour, improving public areas by clearing up litter, cleaning graffiti and maintaining parks & other green spaces.
The new instructions will see unemployed criminals forced to work a minimum of 28 hours over 4 days, with the 5th day spent looking for full time employment. Currently Community Payback programmes could be spread out over 12 months with some offenders working for a minimum of just 6 hours per week.
CO: A major trial of an innovative new way to fund intensive help for families blighted by anti-social behaviour, crime, addiction & poor education was announced by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society recently. Social Impact Bonds lets people invest in social projects to address these issues and be paid a return if the projects are successful. Up to £40m could be raised by 4 Social Impact Bond pilots launched in Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, Birmingham and Leicestershire.
HO: An advertising campaign to challenge the attitudes of teenagers to violence & abuse in relationships has been launched by the Home Office. With 75% of girls and 50% of boys reporting that they have experienced some form of emotional abuse, the TV, cinema, outdoor & online advertising campaign aims to help teenagers recognise abusive behaviour at an early stage, before it escalates to physical violence. Adverts will run 1 September to 16 October 2011..
HO: The final stage in the government's pledge to end the detention of children for immigration purposes was completed recently, with the opening of new pre-departure accommodation for families required to leave the UK.
The new accommodation (‘Cedars’ in Pease Pottage, Sussex) has been designed in partnership with Barnardo's. Families will stay in a self-contained apartment for a short period immediately before their departure from the UK and will have open access to a library, family & youth lounge & play areas for children.
Press release & links
DfT: Innovative measures to cut the number of rush hour road works have been announced by Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond. Under ‘lane rental’ schemes councils would be able to charge utility companies to dig up the busiest roads during peak times when road works cause the most disruption. Companies would be able to avoid the charges by carrying out works during quieter periods or, if appropriate, at night.
The Department for Transport has published a consultation(closes on 31 October 2011) & draft guidance to councils outlining how lane rental schemes could be implemented. Any council wishing to put in place a lane rental scheme would need to gain approval from the Department. In order to gather evidence on the effectiveness of lane rental, the Department has proposed that schemes should initially be used in one urban and one non-metropolitan area.
NICE: Draft guidance, published for public comment, does not recommend fulvestrant (known commercially as Faslodex & manufactured by AstraZeneca) as an alternative to aromatase inhibitor therapy in postmenopausal women.
Those wishing to comment on NICE's draft recommendations have until 13 September 2011 to do so. NICE's independent committee will then meet again to review the comments received. NICE expects to publish its final guidance for the NHS in January 2012.
Defra: A consultation (closes on 14 November 2011) on the proposal to abolish the Inland Waterways Advisory Council (IWAC) has been launched by Defra. The Government announced the intention to abolish IWAC in July 2010as part of the Arms Length Bodies Review.
As the Government has announced plans to move management of inland waterways from British Waterways and the Environment Agency to a new charity in April 2012, there will no longer be need for an organisation to provide advice for policy development, allowing savings of around £200,000 per year.
CO: The Government has recently opened a consultation (closes on 18 November 2011) on proposed new policy directions for the Big Lottery Fund. The consultation invites views from a wide range of stakeholders which include the voluntary, community & social enterprise sector and other government departments.
CLG: New proposals, published for consultation (closes on 17 November 2011), will allow councils more flexibility to trade their assets and use the receipts to enable further investment in new homes & regenerating the local area. Rather than seeking permission from Ministers in every case, local authorities will have greater discretion to use & improve their council housing assets in a way that best suits their community.
The new rules will protect existing tenants and ensure the money is spent for the benefit of the local community. The new rules will not affect occupied homes unless the sale is to the tenants themselves. Where assets are sold, councils will be able to keep the majority of receipts, as long as the money is spent on housing or the regeneration of the local area.
DfE: The Department for Education recently launched a consultation (closes on 28 October 2011) on changes to how Care to Learn will continue to support teenage parents in education and unpaid training in England. Currently parents under 20 who meet the scheme requirements can claim up to £160 a week (£175 a week in London) for childcare & related transport costs under the programme.
CLG: Under new planning rules being proposed by the Government, communities will be able to classify green spaces such as bowling greens for special protections. The National Planning Policy Framework, published for consultation (closes on 17 October 2011) recently, includes a new local green spaces designation.
The framework makes provision for green spaces to be identified by communities for special treatment within new neighbourhood plans. The designation could cover bowling greens as well as other recreational areas, wildlife havens or beauty spots. The plans are subject to a community vote and once agreed would go on to form part of the local planning policy.
DH: A new Department of Health consultation (closes on 22 November 2011) proposes that up to 25% of all current data returns commissioned by the Department of Health and its arms length bodies should be discontinued.
This would lead to a reduction in burden on the NHS of approximately £10m. Patient groups, research organisations, academic institutions &NHS trusts are now being asked for their views on proposals to streamline data collections across health and social care.
HMT/FSA: HM Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have published a joint consultation paper (closes on 31 October 2011) on the future regulation of Northern Ireland credit unions (NICUs). These proposals will enhance consumer protection across all NICUs, and align both the prudential & consumer standards of NICUs with those of credit unions in other parts of the United Kingdom..
Ofsted: Ofsted has launched a consultation on proposals to revise the inspection of further education (FE) colleges, work-based learning providers, adult and community learning (ACL) provision and ‘Next Step’ provision. The consultation closes on 24 November 2011..
Revision will mean fewer judgements that focus more sharply on the core purpose of the provider in meeting the needs & interests of learners, employers and the community.
Reports will show more clearly whether learners are on appropriate courses and how well learners are supported to achieve their qualifications and progress on to higher education or employment. Inspectors will spend more time observing lessons or training sessions.
NE: A public consultation (closes on 24 November 2011) on Studland to Portland possible Special Area of Conservation (pSAC), situated off the Dorset coast, has started and is being undertaken by Natural England, the Government’s statutory nature conservation adviser.
Defra: Over 12,000 square km of species rich sandbank, an area almost double the size of Devon, has become Britain’s latest marine protected area to safeguard important sea life and habitats. The Dogger Bank is in the middle of the North Sea and crosses the offshore waters of the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. The UK section has been submitted by the Government to the European Commission and now has candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) status.
A public consultation (closes on 29 September 2011) by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has also begun on 3 more proposed SACs; the Wight-Barfleur Reef in the English Channel and the Pisces Reef Complex and Croker Carbonate Slabs in the Irish Sea.)
ScotGov: A consultation on same sex marriage & religious ceremonies for civil partnerships in Scotland has been published. The consultation sets out the Scottish Government's initial view. The Government tends towards the view that same sex marriage should be introduced, but believes that faith groups and their celebrants should not be obliged to solemnise same sex marriages (closes on 9 December 2011).
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
NICE: Patients suspected of having hypertension should be sent home and told to wear a monitor for 24 hours, rather than having their blood pressure checked in the clinic, says NICE. Currently, anyone suspected of having high blood pressure is diagnosed by a GP with an inflatable arm cuff. They are then invited back to the surgery for additional readings so that an average measurement can be calculated.
But in a radical change to the existing guidelines, NICE now recommends that a diagnosis of hypertension should be made using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM). This should be offered to patients if the clinic blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher. The process involves wearing a type of mobile blood pressure monitor that straps around the waist and records numerous blood pressure measurements throughout the day & night.
NICE: NICE has recommended the use of golimumab (Simponi) as a treatment option for ankylosing spondylitis in specific circumstances, in final guidance. Ankylosing spondylitis is a progressive condition that causes inflammation, mainly in the lower spine. This leads to back pain and stiffness, and can also affect the hips, shoulders and knees. It can additionally cause bones and joints to fuse together.
The condition can have a debilitating effect on quality of life due to the pain & reduction in mobility that it causes, and the effect it has on sleep. Patients & clinical specialists told the NICE committee that it can also cause lead to people being unable to go to work. Full guidance is available on the NICE website, alongside a costing template to help with its implementation.
CLG: A new, simple 'how to' guide for communities wanting to start up, share or save their own community orchards that could help reverse the national decline in traditional orchards has been published by Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles recently.
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps recently urged local authorities not to become landlocked in their quest to meet local housing needs - but to consider how new powers restoring local control over housing provision and planning can enable people to choose boats on water alongside bricks & mortar. He said boats with residential moorings could be an example of how unconventional housing can allow people to live in areas of the country where perhaps they couldn't afford to do so otherwise.
As new moorings could be eligible for the New Homes Bonus, the Minister said that there was a strong incentive for councils & communities to grant planning permission for more residential moorings. British Waterways has recently published guidance for development of new residential moorings sites as an aid to local authorities & private investors.
NICE: NICE has published its final guidance supporting the use of the Inditherm patient warming mattress to prevent inadvertent hypothermia during surgery. The Inditherm mattress is designed to be used for patients having surgery involving an anaesthetic who may be at risk of inadvertent hypothermia, a common & preventable complication of surgery. Possible consequences of inadvertent hypothermia include increased blood loss, increased heart problems, increased risk of wound infection, longer recovery times and longer hospital stay.
TUC: The TUC has called for urgent action to reduce dust levels in the workplace, a hazard which is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year. In new guidance which is being sent out to all union safety reps, the TUC outlines the case for stronger action against dust and shows that the current standards used for the assessment of dust exposure in the workplace are totally inadequate.
The TUC publication says that there is now clear scientific evidence which suggests that the current UK limits for inhalable & respirable dust should be much lower. It cites research showing that a considerable number of the cases of cancer & lung diseases caused by dusts come from exposure that is well below the current legal limit.
ScotGov: Birds of prey, wild mammals, livestock and pet dogs & cats were all found to be victims of accidental or deliberate poisonings as reflected in figures unveiled by Scotland's Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) recently.
A report by the Government's Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) scientists outlines an increase in the number of cases investigated in 2010, some involving the incorrect storage & usage of approved pesticides.
ScotGov: The annual report by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) on the quality of public supplies during 2010 found that well over 99% of tests on samples complied with strict regulatory standards. Compliance tests showed an improvement, significantly for pH (hydrogen ion), colour, iron & Trihalomethanes (THMs).
AS: Scotland’s public sector is in the first year of major spending cuts and public bodies must focus on their long-term financial sustainability to ensure effective public services in the future. An Audit Scotland report (Scotland’s public finances – addressing the challenges) says bodies need to have clear priorities and plan their budgets & workforces to deliver these.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published Free Personal and Nursing Care, Scotland 2009-10. This statistics release presents information on the number of people benefiting from free personal care & free nursing care in Scotland and how much Local Authorities spend on personal care services.
DfE: New figures reveal how the new English Baccalaureate is ‘having an immediate impact – hugely increasing the proportion of pupils taking the core academic subjects most valued by universities and employers’. Pupils who achieve a GCSE grade C or better in English, maths, a language, history or geography, and two sciences achieve the EBacc.
The take-up of history, geography & languages indicates that the EBacc is reversing the long-term drift away from these subjects, and that they are bouncing back to the levels of a decade ago. 29% of pupils about to start Year 10 have opted for triple science compared to 16% in 2010.
General Reports and Other Publications
CQC: Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors who visited 4 Seafarers Walk Home (owned by Community Integrated Care – CIC) located on Hayling Island, found that it was failing to meet 8 essential standards of quality & safety.
CQC: The owners of a care home at Congresbury in North Somerset have been told they must take action to ensure that people are protected from unsafe or inappropriate care. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the Leonard Elms care home was failing to meet 6 of the essential standards of quality & safety. The home in Brinsea Road, Congresbury, provides nursing care for older people, some with dementia.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has published a review of existing studies that explore how people manage food safety in their homes and what implications these behaviours could have on their health. It found that many people are failing to chill foods properly, aren’t following advice on food labels and aren’t sticking to simple hygiene practices that would help them avoid spreading harmful bacteria around their kitchens.
SFA: Research findings commissioned by the Skills Funding Agency show that the ‘FE Sector has come a long way in how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender learners are treated in Further Education’.
DWP: Research published recently reports on a pilot programme under which JSA claimants with a skills need were required to attend training, or lose their benefits.
Defra: The true value of the UK’s wildlife & habitats has been revealed in 2 research reports published by Defra. The reports estimate the wildlife covered by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is worth approximately £1.5bn per year to the UK.
DWP: A report has been published by the Department for Work and Pensions which documents the evaluation of the Six Month Offer (6MO) including its 4 constituent support strands: volunteering; training; access to a Recruitment Subsidy; and support to become self- employed.
HPA: New estimates on the risk of developing some types of cancer after exposure to ionising radiation have been published by the Health Protection Agency's Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation (AGIR). AGIR reviewed the latest scientific evidence on the lifetime risks of developing 'solid cancers' – such as cancer of the breast, lung & colon cancer – following exposure to ionising radiation.
PC&PE: The industry-dominated Payments Council should ‘no longer have the unfettered power to decide the future of cheques, or other payment methods that directly affect millions of people’, the Treasury Select Committee says in a recent report.
The Payments Council announced on 12 July 2011 that cheques will continue for as long as customers need them and that the target for possible closure of the cheque clearing in 2018 had been cancelled. This followed pressure from the TSC which re-opened its inquiry into the Future of Cheques in April 2011.
DfT: Detailed information on specific speed camera sites has been published as part of the Government’s drive to increase transparency. So far 75 English local authorities have published some or all of their information showing accident and casualty rates as well as speeds at camera sites before & after the introduction of speed cameras.
All local authorities were asked to publish information about the effectiveness of their speed cameras as soon as practicable and provide a web link to this material by 20 July 2011. The remaining 72 authorities plan to publish their data in the next few weeks.
EC: Voters in all parts of Great Britain should expect to see consistent levels of service from Electoral Registration Officers (EROs), said the Electoral Commissionin a reportrecently, after intervening to address underperformance by 45 Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) who had consistently failed to meet performance standards.
ESRC: Reducing the risks of catching E. coli O157 in the countryside is everyone’s problem. That means we should all take responsibility - individual residents & visitors, as well as farmers & government - according to researchers working on the Research Council UK’s Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU).
TUC: TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, has commented on the recent publication of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) list citing the most 'bizarre' reasons that organisations have used 'safety' concerns to cancel activities or events in the past year.
CBI: The UK badly needs to invest in meeting the country’s need for improved infrastructure, to ensure that we don’t fall behind our competitors. With the public finances so constrained, much of the investment to maintain & build infrastructure will need to come from private finance. In a new report, Building Strong Foundations: Financing UK Infrastructure, the CBI puts forward a package of measures to boost infrastructure investment through effective public-private partnerships.
ScotGov: The responsibility of companies to help ensure their products are properly managed at the end of their lifecycles has been brought under the microscope in a report published by the Scottish Government.
Producers of items such as packaging, electronic equipment & vehicles could play a more effective role in the responsible management of these items at the end of their lifecycle, according to the new study. The report highlights how effective producer responsibility regimes can also drive waste prevention and reduction.
WWF: WWF expressed disappointment that the long-awaited Government response to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on their recommendations for reducing aviation emissions has shed little light on future aviation policy. Instead, their response ‘focussed on what the Government might do rather than what they will do’.
WWF is also uncomfortable with the Government’s projected heavy reliance on aviation biofuels. It is likely that there will be a limit on the amount of available sustainable biofuels that we can use and, therefore, they should not be viewed as a silver bullet in reducing emissions. WWF said that it is also disappointing that the Government’s analysis is so negative regarding the potential for videoconferencing to reduce levels of flying & emissions, despite WWF’s strong evidence to the contrary.
ScotGov: Scotland is in a stronger position to deal effectively with any outbreak of foot & mouth disease (FMD) in the future. That was the finding of a progress report, published recently, following Professor Jim Scudamore's review of how Scotland responded to the FMD outbreak of 2007.
The publication highlights that 31 of the 52 recommendations accepted by ScotGov have already been met or are under regular review. Due to the need to continually update contingency planning the remaining recommendations require a programme of on-going work.
CLG: New research, based on interviews with developers and the latest information about environmental technologies, shows the overall extra costs of building new homes to standards set in the Code for Sustainable Homes is falling year on year. For homes built to Code level 3 standards, average extra costs have fallen by almost three quarters in the last 3 years - falling from £4,458 in 2008 to £1,128 in 2010.
ScotGov: A list of achievements & advances for Scotland in the 100 days since the re-election of Alex Salmond as First Minister by the Scottish Parliament in May 2011 has been published.
ScotGov: A new study report, supported by the Scottish Government, has been delivered to help the Maldives
develop the country's potential for marine energy with the ambition of becoming the first carbon neutral State by 2020.
Press release & links
Demos: A study of over 15,000 children by the think tank Demos shows parenting style is one of the most important and statistically reliable influences on whether a child will drink responsibly in adolescence and adulthood. Demos found that ‘tough love’ parenting, combining consistent warmth and discipline, was the most effective parenting style to prevent unhealthy relationships with alcohol right into the mid-thirties age range.
Press release & links
CIPD: The auto-enrolment of workers into workplace pension schemes is the biggest reform to pensions for a century. The extent of the Government’s communication challenge is highlighted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Employee Outlook: Focus on Pay and Pensions survey, where over half (53%) of
workers state that they are totally unaware of the reforms.
The survey reveals that the auto-enrolment pension reforms – which are due to come into effect in October 2012 – will have the greatest impact on the private & voluntary sectors, with 46% & 42% respectively stating awareness.
Press release & links
Civitas: The Coalition Government is failing to realise productivity gains that are crucial for protecting the quality of NHS services, according to a new Civitas report. Andrew Lansley ‘has wasted time by trying to force through wholesale changes to health commissioning, reforms which are now widely accepted as unworkable. But the Government could save millions of pounds by focusing commissioner attention on reconfiguring specialist services that have been inefficiently managed for years’.
Commissioning London's HIV Services uses the case study of HIV care in
London to show how specific health services could be reformed without the costly overhaul of NHS commissioning as a whole. Unless these genuine savings through increased productivity are made, patients will face poorer health services with longer waits as budget cuts begin to bite.
Press release & links
PC&PE: The current priority given to preventing HIV & AIDS in the is ‘woefully inadequate’ and a new priority must be given to prevention policies if the epidemic is to be stemmed, says a Lords Select Committee in a new report. The report says that the numbers accessing care have trebled since 2000 and that HIV & AIDS remains one of the most serious public health issues confronting the Government.
Press release & links ~ Related HPA press release
IfG: Andrew Adonis has written to communities minister, Eric Pickles saying that ‘elected mayors have huge potential to drive growth in the economy but only if they are given sufficient powers’. The letter comes a week before the Localism Bill enters the final stages of its passage through Parliament.
Press release & links
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report examining lessons from the private finance initiative (PFI) and other projects. Speaking on the publication of the report, the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: “… But while PFI has delivered many new public buildings and services that might not otherwise have been built, it is far from clear that it has provided value for money. At present, PFI looks like a better deal for the private sector than for the taxpayer”.
Press release & links ~ CBI comment
TUC: TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, has commented on the gender pay gap report published recently by the Chartered Management Institute.
Press release & links ~ Home Office comment
Ofsted: There is no reason why good practice in safeguarding & promoting children’s welfare should not be a feature of every school, according to an Ofsted report. The report found that the measures put in place by the best schools to keep children safe could be replicated by every school.
The report ‘Safeguarding in schools: best practice’ distils the features of exceptionally good practice in safeguarding in schools where safeguarding was judged to be outstanding between September 2009 and July 2010.
Press release & links
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: Custody providers, including prisons, secure hospitals, police & juvenile detention facilities, are now covered by corporate manslaughter laws. The Government has also extended the law so that it will also apply to Ministry of Defence and UK Borders Agency customs custodial facilities.
The Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007, which came into effect in 2008, created a new offence of corporate manslaughter which can be committed by organisations which cause the death of a person through gross negligence management failings.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Defra: Britain has held talks with Sweden & Denmark on how to make sure Europe radically reforms the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), ahead of the European Commission’s publication of proposals for change. The 3 countries share ambitious plans for reform over the long term, centred on better value for money for taxpayers, a more competitive agriculture sector and better incentives to improve the environment.
EU News: An EU-funded project is aiming to make self-service terminals, such as public transport ticket vending machines or public information kiosks & cash dispensers, more accessible for the 1 in 6 Europeans who have a disability or the 87m Europeans aged 65 & over.
The European Commission is contributing €3.41m, half of the overall budget, to the ‘APSIS4All’ project which aims to design & validate personalised interfaces, including contactless cards, to help overcome existing accessibility barriers. Trials will begin in cash dispensers in Barcelona, Spain from September 2011 and at ticket vending machines in Paderborn, Germany from January 2012, and will run for 3 years.
PC&PE: The European Commission is sleepwalking into a potential commercial disaster over animal welfare regulations that could result in unfair competition for UK egg producers, warns the UK Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) in a report.
New rules, which come into force on 1 January 2012, are designed to improve conditions for caged ('battery') hens. In a report examining the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, Efra warns that around one third of Europe's egg production will not comply with the new welfare standards when this legislation comes into force., are designed to improve conditions for caged ('battery') hens.
Press release & links
EU News: Secondary schools can now enrol pupils for the annual EU Young Translator Contest known as ‘Juvenes Translatores’ (Latin for 'young translators’). The registration runs until 20 October and the online application form is available in all official EU languages. The contest will be held on 24 November at the same time in all selected schools. It is open to pupils born in 1994 and more than 750 schools can take part.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DUK: Earlier this year the transport minister, Mike Penning MP, announced he intended to bring forward the implementation of an EC Directive for people with diabetes to October 2011. From October, people with diabetes who experience hypos may have their licences revoked if they report 2 severe episodes in a 12-month period.
Diabetes UK has concerns that this is open to misinterpretation. Simon O'Neill, Director of Care, Information and Advocacy at Diabetes UK, said; "People can often experience hypos when asleep, and we believe night-time hypos have no medical basis of relevance to driving”. You can find out more about driving & diabetes in their Guide to diabetes, and read DUK’s full position statement around the proposed changes to the law.
CRUK: Britons have very low awareness of the signs & symptoms of bowel cancer – the third most common cancer in the UK and second largest cause of cancer deaths each year, new research shows. A Cancer Research UK-funded study, published recently in BMC Cancer also found that the public didn’t know that lifestyle factors like diet, weight & exercise can affect a person’s risk of developing bowel cancer.
DUK: Offering finger prick tests during opticians’ appointments could help to identify people at risk of Type 2 diabetes, a study has suggested. However, Diabetes UK have stated that finger prick tests can often be misleading, and recommend that people with one or more risk factors should see their GP instead to see if they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Press release & links
Business and Other Briefings
ScotGov: Under the new Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act, retailers intending to sell tobacco have been reminded that they have until 1 October 2011 to sign up to a new national register. Registration is quick & free and can be done in a number of ways, including going on-line & completing a web-based form. More than 5,000 have already signed up.
Defra: Businesses up & down the country are being invited to contribute ideas on how the Government can cut red tape & regulatory burdens without affecting its responsibilities to protect the environment. For the next 3 weeks the Red Tape Challenge (RTC) will be focusing on the 287 environmental regulations that apply to businesses, covering issues such as waste, emissions and wildlife protection.
FRC: Companies should improve the way they report to investors on the key strategic risks facing their businesses, according to 2 new reports published by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).
The ‘Turnbull Guidance’ will be updated, and the FRC will consider whether changes may also be needed to the UK Corporate Governance Code to reflect lessons from its work on risk and ensure the conclusions of the on-going Sharman Enquiry on going concern and liquidity risks are taken fully into account.
FRC: Proposals to simplify the financial & corporate reporting requirements for the smallest businesses are the subject of a Discussion Paper published recently by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).
‘Simpler Reporting for Smaller Businesses’ sets out ideas to reduce the amount of reporting micro-entities would be required to undertake. This could benefit around 5m businesses and result in considerable cost savings in relation to the preparation of their accounts.
The paper is not intended as a statement of Government policy. It has been developed to stimulate discussion and gather evidence before the Government decides whether to take forward any further action in this area. Written responses to the proposals should be provided by 30 October 2011..
Brief outlining HMRC's position after the Dransfield Novelty Company and others Tribunal decision concerning the duty liability of lottery machines.
This brief explains HMRC's policy following the First-Tier Tribunal decision in the case of Reed Employment Limited.
ScotGov: A funding package for training & development in television & digital media has been announced. The Creative Edge partnership will be worth more than £1.4m over 3 years to Scottish talent & creative businesses. There are 6 main strands in the project, some aimed at emerging digital talent and others designed for established industry leaders.
The four partners are broadcaster Channel 4, Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and TRC media (the Glasgow-based training specialist which will deliver the wide-ranging programmes). The initiative is aimed at strengthening the talent & business base in Scotland in what is a priority sector for the Scottish Government.
WAG: A hi-tech diabetes blood glucose monitor is being developed in Wales that will send a text alert to emergency personnel if the patient is in danger of hypoglycaemia attack. Scientists from SwanseaUniversity are collaborating with a number of Welsh technology companies and bringing their combined expertise in areas ranging from nanoelectronics & e-health technologies to develop the next generation blood glucose-monitoring sensor.
The project will involve the expertise & state-of-the-art facilities from the Centre for Nanohealth and e-health Industries Innovation Centre at Swansea University. The £470,000 research project is backed by the Welsh Government’s EU funded Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme which promotes industrial collaboration to help turn research into commercial viable products, processes & services.
CRUK: A team led by Professor Stephen Jackson together with Cancer Research Technology (Cancer Research UK’s commercial arm) and the University of Cambridge has announced the launch of MISSION Therapeutics Ltd, with Series A funding from a top venture capital syndicate.
The new spin-out company will translate cutting-edge cell biology research on DNA repair from Professor Jackson’s laboratory at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, into drugs that will markedly improve the management of life-threatening diseases, particularly cancer.
Ofcom: Ofcom has progressed plans for the introduction of White Space technology in the – the first country in
Europe to do so. The technology uses signals that can travel large distances and easily through walls. This makes it suitable for a wide range of new consumer applications that could include rural broadband and Wi-Fi with up to twice the range of today’s technology.
White Spaces offer significant capacity to help alleviate pressures on wireless networks. To put the scale of this capacity into perspective, Ofcom expect the amount of white space to be comparable to spectrum that is currently available for 3G services, and significantly more in some locations. Ofcom expects that White Space technology could be launched in the
Press release & links
DCMS: Film makers with a love of design are being given the opportunity to be a part of the London Design Festival in September 2011. The festival organisers have launched a competition looking for short online films that capture the inventiveness and excitement of design in London in 2011.
Submissions should be uploaded to the London Design Film website by 9 September 2011. More information and competition rules can also be found on the website.
TfL: Riders who attend a Rider Skills Day between 1 September & 30 November 2011 could win a brand new motorcycle, scooter or protective clothing. Encouraging motorcycle & scooter riders to constantly develop their riding skill levels is essential and the Motor Cycle Industry is pleased to be working with TfL on this initiative.
The competition is open to anyone who attends a BikeSafe-London or ScooterSafe-London Rider Skills Day and completes a short questionnaire based on the assessment. The prizes, worth around £20,000, have been provided to TfL by the MCI at no cost to the taxpayer.
NE: Natural England is running a full series of ‘clinics’ for land agents to discuss Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Farm Environment Plan (FEP) proposals. The clinics will run between 5 & 23 September 2011 and are designed to discuss the ‘pipeline’ list of holdings provisionally identified by Natural England as having the potential to receive Higher Level Stewardship funding in 2012/13. Agents are being invited to submit additional proposals for consideration at the clinics.
Each session will also provide an opportunity to discuss the new 3-Tier HLS process, that was introduced on 1 July 2011 to help speed up application preparation and processing times.
TfL: Free Transport for London (TfL) and London 2012 workshops in the Capital for SMEs and multi-site businesses in 2012 transport hot spots. The SME workshops will take place in a range of venues across London, twice a month, until the Games begin. In addition, there is an online tool available to help small businesses plan for Games time.
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