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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

TUCHow ‘temporary’ are temporary workers? - Hundreds of thousands of agency workers across the UK will benefit from improved working conditions now that the new equal treatment rights for temps has come into effect (from Saturday 1 October 2011).  

Unlike fixed-term employees & part-time workers, until now agency workers have not had a right to the same pay & holiday rights as directly employed staff in the same workplace.  This lack of rights has left them open to abuse, says the TUC.

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the average agency worker gets 5 days less holiday a year than permanent employees and temps earned on average 68% of the pay of permanent workers.  However, following years of campaigning by unions, agency workers will now benefit from new, improved rights at work.

From the first day of an assignment, agency temps working in the private, public or voluntary sector will have a right to use any facilities provided by the hirer - such as a crèche, canteen or transport services.  They will also be entitled to information about internal vacancies at the company they are working for, and to be given the opportunity to apply for them.

After 12 weeks in the same role with the same hirer, agency workers will be entitled to the same pay, holiday entitlement & working hours as permanent staff and they will also receive improved maternity rights.
EU NewsThe money raised would not go to meet the original aims of a Tobin Tax – Last week the Commission has presented a proposal for a financial transaction tax in the 27 Member States of the European Union.  The tax would be levied on all transactions on financial instruments between financial institutions when at least one party to the transaction is located in the EU.

The exchange of shares and bonds would be taxed at a rate of 0.1% and derivative contracts, at a rate of 0.01%.  This could approximately raise €57bn every year.  The Commission has proposed that the tax should come into effect from 1 January 2014. The revenues of the tax would be shared between the EU and the Member States.  

The financial transaction tax aims at taxing the 85% of financial transactions that take place between financial institutions.  House mortgages, bank loans, insurance contracts and other normal financial activities carried out by individuals or small businesses fall outside the scope of the proposal.
TUCEmployee Ageism consigned to scrapheap - Anyone who turns 65 after last Friday will no longer lose their job simply because of their age.  Under the Default Retirement Age (DRA0, which the government began phasing out from April this year, employers have been able to retire people on their 65th birthday for no other reason than their age.

But for anyone who turns 65 now (or who is under 65), but hasn't been given six months notice,
employers now have to justify why they want to retire a member of staff.

The TUC and the Charted Institute for Personal and Development (CIPD) have recently published guidance for staff & employers on managing age in the workplace, which offers best practice guidance on working without a retirement age.
DUKHelp ‘Beat’ Diabetes - ‘Help Diabeates’, a new campaign to encourage people with diabetes to give permission to be approached about taking part in clinical research studies, has been launched.  The campaign, which is being support by Diabetes UK, is from the Diabetes Research Network (DRN).
DCMS:  Royal occasions by Royal permission - Applications are now open for the commemorative use of Royal names & titles for community events, buildings and projects for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, which takes place next year.  A blanket approval is in place for the use of ‘Diamond Jubilee’ and ‘Jubilee’ for non-commercial purposes.
Anyone wishing to use phrases such as ‘Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee,’ ‘Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee,’ or ‘The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee’ to name a community hall,  commemorative garden or other building/ project, will need to apply for permission to do so.

Latest White PaperPublic Sector Information Security Threats - Information is the lifeblood of all public sector organisations, and thanks to modern computing technology, that information can be easily shared with colleagues, clients and suppliers. As our dependency on computers and technology deepens, so do the risks and threats to those systems. These threats range from curious teenagers to disgruntled employees, activists and criminals.
Just as computers and networks have evolved to enable your organisation to be more productive, so have the threats. The traditional insider threat still remains, and as technology progresses, so have the knowledge, capabilities, sophistication and profiles of the external threat sources. Understanding what you are trying to protect and your threat sources is critical to deploying the controls that protect against those threats.

Public sector information security/protection is no longer the sole preserve of IT departments and requires a level of input and understanding from senior management and departmental heads.

A recent paper from leading independent information security expert Brian Honan, highlights and discusses in plain terms the range of internal and external threats to your organisations.
Click here to receive your free copy.

Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive

General News

MoD:  A total of 140 members of the Armed Forces have received honours & awards in the Operational Honours List dated 30 September 2011.

Press release & links

MoD:  As part of the Armed Forces Redundancy Programme, the Royal Navy has notified personnel selected for redundancy in Tranche 1 of the programme.  Approximately 1,020 Naval Service personnel, comprising around 670 applicants and around 350 non-applicants, have been notified.

Press release & links

ACE:  8 pioneering projects that will harness digital technologies for the benefit of the arts & cultural sector have been selected to receive funding from the Digital R&D Fund for Arts & Culture, run by Arts Council England, the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and NESTA.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  All those who use and enjoy 's waters are being encouraged to take 3 sensible measures to tackle invasive non-native species & minimise their spread.  The Check, Clean, Dry campaign encourages anglers, boat owners, canoeists and all other water users to:

* Check equipment & clothing for live plants and animals

* Clean & wash all equipment, footwear & clothing thoroughly

* Dry all equipment & clothing, as some species can live for many days in moist conditions

Press release & links

ScotGov:  NHS 24 has launched a new digital TV channel to improve patients' access to health information & advice from the comfort of their own home.  The channel, available through Freesat, Sky & Virgin, gives people access to health advice & information on local services.  An app for iphones, ipads & android smartphones also gives access to the digital service.

The channel offers information from NHS 24, NHS inform and Care Information Scotland web services, improving access to health information for those who don't have home internet access - often those from more deprived communities or older people who could potentially benefit most from this advice.

Press release & links

TfL:  London Underground (LU) has announced that proposed changes to the District line will go ahead following overwhelming support (89%) during a public consultation.  The changes will see the withdrawal of the lightly used weekday Kensington (Olympia) service and introduction of additional services on the Wimbledon branch. 

The new timetable, which will come into effect in December 2011, will reduce delays & provide capacity for an additional 4,000 passengers every weekday morning on the busy Wimbledon branch, which carries nearly 30% of District line passengers.  

In the evening, there will be further capacity for more than 800 people on services to Ealing Broadway and an enhanced late evening service on the Wimbledon branch with 6 trains per hour until 23:30.  The District line Olympia service will continue to operate at weekends and special services will operate to serve major weekday events at the Olympia exhibition centre.

Press release & links

MoD:  Army chaplain Stephen Hancock describes how life for a padre on operations can be tough but very rewarding.  From carrying a 35-kilo Bergen in sweltering temperatures in to baptising an infant in a UK village church, Padre Hancock has done it all.
Press release & links

NE:  The expansion of two of England’s finest National Parks reached a major milestone last week as Natural England’s Board agreed to proceed with recommendations to significantly expand the boundaries of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, increasing their combined area by nearly 500sqkm  (subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State).

Press release & links

AC:  As part of the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), the Audit Commission is launching a pilot scheme to help banks & credit providers identify fraudulent applications by immigration offenders.  Through the NFI run by the Audit Commission the UK Border Agency will share information in ‘real time’ with financial institutions.

Press release & links

FSA:  P & B Foods Ltd is recalling Heera Milk Powder because it has been packaged in unapproved premises. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.

Press release & links

MoJ:  A new civil mediation directory replaces the National Mediation Helpline from 1 October 2011.  It will help individuals & businesses to find a civil & commercial mediation provider anywhere in & .  The mediation directory is an online tool and lists a number of local & national civil & commercial mediation providers, all of whom are accredited by the Civil Mediation Council.

Press release & links

DH:  The Prime Minister & the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, have announced that patients will be able to access the NHS 24/7 through the new free to call NHS ‘111’ service – the number to call for all non-emergency NHS care & advice.  If you need to see a GP urgently, the NHS 111 service will make sure this happens.  Similarly, if you need to see a nurse or need an urgent home visit in the middle of the night, NHS 111 will organise that.

Press release ~ NHS 111 service

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov:  The UK Government has been called on to back the creation of a dotSCOT (.scot) internet domain and ‘ensure is at the centre of a transformation in the way people use the web’.  The International Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN) announced in the summer that the application window for new Top Level Domains (TLDs) will open for a 3 month period from 12 January 2012.

Hundreds of bids for domains are expected to be submitted, including dotNYC, dotLONDON, dotBERLIN, & dotCYMRU in a process that will greatly expand the number of domains or web addresses available to internet users.

Press release ~ Dotscot website ~ dotCYM cyf ~ Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) 

HO:  A public consultation to consider how to make civil marriage available to same-sex couples will begin in March 2012, the government announced last week.  The consultation will only cover civil marriage for same sex couples — not religious marriage.

Press release & links

MoJ:  Up to £1m a year is to be seized from prisoners’ pay packets and used to fund victim support services, the Ministry of Justice has announced.  Under the Prisoners’ Earnings Act, which came into force last week, low-risk prisoners who work outside of prison to prepare for their eventual release will see up to 40% of their net weekly wages over £20 go to services which support victims of crime.

Press release & links

WAG:  Increasing apprenticeship opportunities for young people, ensuring universal access to next generation broadband and introducing 50+ health checks were among the priorities announced by the Welsh Government last week.  In an address to Assembly Members in the Senedd, First Minister Carwyn Jones set out his Programme for Government for the current Assembly term.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  A new way to tackle youth offending using early intervention to clamp down on criminality will keep young people out of trouble and save public money, Kenny MacAskill said last week.  Speaking at a conference in Dumfries , the Justice Secretary outlined the Whole System Approach, which will hold young people to account for their behaviour, and stop them following the wrong path into a life of crime.

Press release & links

WAG:  The Minster with responsibility for Transport, Carl Sargeant, has recently confirmed that the popular concessionary rail fares scheme is to continue on 4 rural routes across for a 2 year period.  A recent independent evaluation report of the scheme completed by the Wales Transport Research Centre revealed that free rail travel is changing travel behaviour & reducing car use – with 74% of survey respondents stating that they now use the train more often as a result of the scheme.

Press release & links

WAG:  The Welsh Government Equalities Minister, has launched the first national Gypsy & Traveller Framework in the UK .  ‘Travelling to a better future’, together with an accompanying Delivery Plan, aims to ensure equality of opportunity for Gypsies & Travellers in and to set out the practical ways the Welsh Government can achieve this.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  A scheme to help fund school trips to a number of key Scottish historical sites has been extended for a further year by Learning Minister, Alasdair Allan.  The move came as part of a parliamentary debate on Scottish Studies within Curriculum for Excellence, a commitment which already has the support of the Scottish public and a number of cultural personalities and leading academics.

Press release & links


FCO:  The Foreign Office has launched a consultation (closes on 31 December 2011) on a new strategy for the Overseas Territories , which aims to:

* strengthen the engagement & interaction between the & the Territories.

* work with Territories to strengthen good governance arrangements, public financial management & economic planning where this is necessary

* improve the quality & range of support available to the Territories

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 19 December 2011) on strengthening EU measures to reduce emissions of fluorinated gases, a group of industrial gases which are extremely powerful contributors to global warming.

A Commission review, which was also adopted last week, concludes that the EU's existing Regulation on fluorinated gases ('F-gases') is having a significant impact but that, without further measures, F-gas emissions are expected to remain at today's levels in the long term. 
Press release & links

ACE:  Arts Council has published its response to the government consultation on the Draft National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework seeks to significantly reduce the number of pages of planning policy & guidance, but this streamlined approach has meant that arts & culture are not referenced.  ACE are encouraging arts & cultural organisations & our partners to read this response, and respond to the CLG consultation by the 17 October 2011 deadline.

Press release & links

ICO:  Transparency is not just about what the authorities choose to reveal to citizens; but what citizens have a right to ask to see,’ Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said in a video address broadcast on YouTube, to mark International Right to Know Day 2011

Mr Graham also launched a public consultation on the content of publication schemes (closes on 21 December 2011) – the documents that specify what information public authorities must release proactively.

Press release & links ~ Related EU Press release

LC:  The Law Commission has opened a consultation to clarify the law on kidnapping.  Under the existing law it is not enough simply for a victim to be taken away – several parts of the definition are ambiguous.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  The creation of a Scottish Civil Justice Council is the focus of a Scottish Government consultation  (closes on 22 December 2011) launched last week, which outlines proposals to replace the existing civil rules councils with a single council, which will have a wider policy role to advise & make recommendations on improving the civil justice system in Scotland.

Press release & links

DH:  The latest draft guidance to support emerging clinical commissioning groups has been published.  It comes as the NHS moves towards a stronger & streamlined management system for the new commissioning arrangements which supports the reduction of administration costs by a third.  From next month, the NHS will have moved from 10 management teams at SHA level to just 4 SHA clusters.

Press release & links

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

HL:  With every council required to tell Government how many people are sleeping rough on their streets by the 16 December 2011, Homeless Link has developed a toolkit to help.  Called ‘Evaluating the extent of rough sleeping’, the guidance aims to help local authorities, in partnership with homelessness charities, count or estimate the number of people sleeping rough in their area.

Press release & links

ICO:  The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidance on freedom of information legislation & research information, aimed specifically at public authorities in the higher education sector. 

The guidance has been put together following recommendations made in the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on the disclosure of data about climate change involving the University of East Anglia .  It aims to increase academics’ & researchers’ understanding of freedom of information legislation and to help practitioners to comply with their legal obligations.

Press release ~ Guidance on freedom of information legislation and research information

LR:  Land Registry has published new guidance on searching for property belonging to an individual or company in its Index of Proprietors’ Names (IOPN).  Practice Guide 74 – Searches of the Index of Proprietors’ Names explains how to make a search of the index and includes tips on searching against individuals, corporate organisations, local authorities & government departments.

From Monday 26 September 2011, private individuals must lodge evidence of their identity if they wish to search the IOPN in respect of their own name or the name of a third party where the named individual has given permission for the search, using the new IOPN ID form.  No ID form is necessary when searching against the name of a company or other organisation.  There is a fee of £12 for each name searched.

Press release & links ~ Practice Guide 74 – Searches of the Index of Proprietors’ Names ~ Land Registry Public Guide 20 – Evidence of identity – non-conveyancers

OFT:  The OFT has published guidance for businesses when they are considering granting credit to people who might not have the mental capacity to make informed borrowing decisions.

Press release & links

NICE:  Women who are expecting twins or triplets should receive specialist care from a team of healthcare professionals, according to latest NICE guidance.  The number of multiple births has risen over the last 30 years and now accounts for 3% of all live births, as more women turn to assisted reproduction techniques such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

NICE's first guideline on multiple pregnancy says that women with multiple pregnancy should be referred to a team of doctors, midwives & ultrasonographers once their scan is confirmed.  This team should be experienced in caring for women expecting twins or triplets and should support the woman throughout her pregnancy.

A suite of tools has been produced alongside the guideline to help put the recommendations into practice, including a guide table for scheduling antenatal appointments. This provides an easy to use timeline for actions such as maternal blood pressure measurement, urinanalysis and ultrasound scans.

Press release & links

NICE:  Local autism teams should be set up across the country to improve the diagnosis & assessment of children & young people with autism, says NICE.  It is estimated that around 70% of people who have autism will have a co-existing condition.

published by NICE recommends that local multidisciplinary autism teams are set up to support healthcare professionals and enable them to work together with schools, social care, the voluntary sector and other key services which can offer useful insight into this condition. 

To help put this guidance into practice, NICE has produced a range of support tools, including signs & symptoms tables for children of preschool age, primary school age and secondary school age.

Press release & links

NICE:  From October 2011, all new NICE guidance will be published in a range of formats on their website.  For the first time NICE Pathways versions of all their guidance will be available at the time of publication. 

NICE will no longer be supplying or mailing printed copies of their guidance, as do not have the resource to print & mail guidance any more.  In the coming months they are also re-launching their website to make it easier to search and browse guidance.

Press release & links

EHRC:  The Commission has launched a new, free training & education resource, Equal Rights, Equal Respect, aimed at Key Stage 3 teachers of all subjects to help teach equality & human rights in schools. 

The online toolkit includes 3 videos to use in the classroom exploring the consequences of discriminatory behaviour around race, disability & gender, 12 lesson plans & supporting materials, and interactive student activities. The resources also examine discrimination around age, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity and sexual orientation.

Press release & links

CLG:  Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has published the final Code of Recommended Practice for council transparency which will help reveal the fine details of authorities' daily business, including senior salaries & contracts.  Already every council in (except Nottingham City Council) publishes data on all their spending over £500 on a regular basis.

Press release & links

HO:  A new 'media literacy' teaching pack to help children understand how the media often alter images and the impact these have on self esteem, has been backed by Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone.  The teaching materials (developed by not-for-profit company Media Smart) mark an important contribution to the government's ongoing Body Confidence campaign.

Primary school teachers will be able to download the materials to structure a lesson specifically tailored to the 10-11 age group - an important stage in a young person's development.   Pupils will be guided to look carefully at the images they see in order to gain a more realistic perception of what is real and what is not. The lessons will explore how & why idealised images in advertising and the media are used to construct particular messages and make people feel a certain way.

Press release & links ~ Body Image Lesson ~ Body Confidence Campaign

DH:  Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has officially launched a set of online tools that can help patients make informed decisions about their healthcare.  8 online Patient Decision Aids (PDAs), commissioned by NHS East of England, give patients information on the pros & cons of different treatment options available to them. 

As a key product of the Right Care programme, part of the NHS’s work to improve quality, innovation, productivity & prevention, these aids personalise services for patients to make sure they get the right treatment the first time.

Press release ~ Decision Aids

Annual Reports

Monitor:  Monitor has published its review of NHS foundation trusts for the first quarter of 2011/12 revealing a variety of emerging challenges.  The report provides some extra context on the C.difficle and CQC concerns that are identified as significant factors driving the increase in governance risk. 
Press release & links

General Reports and Other Publications

TKF:  A new book from The King's Fund, Understanding New Labour's market reforms of the English NHS provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of New Labour’s introduction of competition to the NHS, offering key warnings for the coalition government’s health reformers.

Press release & links

TDA:  A new survey, commissioned by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), estimates that at least 16,000 teachers who left the classroom in the past 5 years have tried to return, without success. Over one third are under the age of 40 and of those who are secondary teachers, one-third are qualified to teach core shortage subjects – maths, sciences and modern languages

The survey highlights the key barriers for those who have been out of the profession for more than a year as being family commitments, a lack of part-time opportunities and not enough suitable vacancies.  School experience is currently available to anyone who wants to return to teach maths, physics, chemistry and languages.  A new programme has also been launched to give teachers who want to return to teach maths & the sciences up-to-date specialist knowledge.

Press release & links

CQC:  The Care Quality Commission has issued a formal warning to James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust saying it must make urgent improvements to standards of care.  CQC first identified concerns about how the Trust meets the nutritional needs of those in its care in April 2011.  

Press release & links

IfG:  Sir John Elvidge, who was 's most senior civil servant until last year, says that Whitehall & Westminster have more to learn from 's efficient and streamlined model of government than vice versa. The thinking behind the model is set out in Northern Exposure: Lessons from the first twelve years of devolved government in Scotland.

Press release & links

DCMS:  New independent research published by RICS has found that the regeneration of the Olympic Park site & associated infrastructure will be a crucial step in providing a lasting legacy in East London .

Press release & links

IPCC:  The Independent Police Complaints Commission has published its findings from the investigation report into the death of Raoul Moat.  The investigation has concluded that while there may be some learning for Northumbria Police stemming from the investigation, there is no evidence that any police officers have committed misconduct.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  In response to a recent report from the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR) on changes to Non-Domestic Rate Income (NDRI), the Scottish Government has provided further analysis.  This supplements the advice offered to the Parliament's Finance Committee recently on the initial assessment of the Scottish Government's budget.

Press release & links ~ CPPR:  Non-Domestic Rates Briefing No. 2 

NO:  The Local Government Ombudsmen urge councils to ensure that children’s rights to full-time education are met and to avoid some of the common mistakes made when providing education to children not in school.  The LGO, which independently investigates complaints about local authorities in , has published lessons learned from recurring themes in complaints received from parents about children not in school – Out of school…out of mind?

Councils have a statutory duty to make other arrangements to educate a child where there are reasons for them not being in school full time. Looking across recent cases, the Ombudsmen conclude that some local authorities misunderstand their duties or pay them less attention than they should.  As a result, some children are missing out on crucial years of education, which could disadvantage them for the rest of their lives.

Press release & links

CH:  Strategic communications should become a more prominent component at the highest levels of government, at an early stage in the development of government strategies, during a crisis response or a contingency operation and generally as a critical component of policy-making, says a new Chatham House report.

Recent operations in , & have underlined that foreign policy goals cannot be achieved by military power alone.  Increasingly important are non-military means and ‘soft’ power in order to connect with populations both at home and abroad.  Strategic communications, correctly defined, are an integral part of this approach

Press release & links

nef:  The proposals of the Independent Commission on Banking will not deliver financial stability & economic prosperity because they fail to rigorously analyse or challenge commercial banks’ control over the money supply, according to a new book published by independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation).

Where Does Money Come From? argues that the process of money creation, and how new money is allocated within the economy, is widely misunderstood by economists & policymakers, and yet needs to be reformed if future financial crises are avoided.

Press release & links

ESRC:  People with dementia can still make decisions in their everyday lives and with support from partners can continue to do so as their condition advances. This is one of the preliminary findings of a 2-year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) into how married couples living with dementia make decisions on a daily basis

The study is investigating how couples make decisions over issues such as what to eat or wear, as well as how they make more complex decisions on who manages the finances, and whether or not to attend a day centre. The aim of the study is to identify the practical support that can help couples make these decisions.

Press release ~ The Social Process of Everyday Decision-Making by People with Dementia and their Spouses

PC&PE:  Government legislation risks ‘diluting the Government's constitutional responsibilities with regard to the NHS’, says the Lords Constitution Committee in its report on the Health and Social Care Bill.  The committee also question whether the proposed changes to NHS political and legal accountability are necessary to achieve reform.

Press release & links

ESRC:  The use of new technology is helping students to become real ‘science investigators’.  Researchers funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have developed a software toolkit that shows how such an approach sparks and sustains students’ interest in science.

The project shows that the nQuire software engages children’s interest more effectively than traditional science lessons where teachers often dispense science facts from a classroom desk.  By using mobile computing devices, the software allows students to go out and set up their own projects.  They can both find and analyse the data and reach their own conclusions based on hypotheses which they have chosen themselves.

Press release & links ~ nQuire software

PC&PE:  The Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its 48th report of this session, on the basis of evidence from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and a report by the National Audit Office. 
Press release & links

Demos:  New research finds that 48% per cent of teachers surveyed by the think tank Demos report having argued about conspiracy theories with their pupils.   5% say this happens on a weekly basis.  Demos warns that ‘digital natives’ (12-18 year olds) are often confident, but not competent internet users.

One in four young people do not make any checks at all when visiting a new website.  Less than 1 in 10 ask who made the site & why.  One third of young people believe that information generated by search engines must be true and 15% base their opinions of a website on how it looks and feels to use.

Press release ~ Truth, Lies and the Internet: A report into young people’s digital fluency

IISS:  The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies considers ‘Can Yoshihiko Noda - 'Japan's sixth prime minister in five years - survive longer than any of his recent predecessors?’ 
Press release & links 

IISS:  The latest IISS Voices, comments that ‘the vote in the Bundestag was an unexpectedly strong endorsement of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the European debt crisis.  Merkel’s promise that ‘the euro will not fail’ now looks more credible

Press release & links

Legislation / Legal

HSE:  More health & safety prosecutions will take place before Inquest as changes to a key agreement between those who investigate & prosecute work-related deaths seek to speed up justice in England & Wales.  The revised protocol will allow prosecution before Inquest where manslaughter or homicide charges are not relevant – if it is considered appropriate and in the interest of justice.

The changes to the Work-Related Deaths Protocol (WRDP), which took effect on 1 October 2011, should mean that bereaved families see a swifter resolution to some prosecutions. They are being announced by the Work Related Deaths National Liaison Committee (NLC) and are supported by the Coroners’ Society.

 Press release & links

EHRC:  The Equality and Human Rights Commission announced last week that it has submitted its intervention to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on 4 cases relating to alleged religious discrimination in the workplace

Press release & links

DCMS:  The Government has launched an assault on the unnecessary regulation that holds the hospitality industry back.  Plans to scrap or simplify more than 60 regulations, freeing the public & businesses from overly burdensome, bureaucratic or completely redundant rules have been announced by Tourism Minister, John Penrose.  

Press release & links

OFT:  People may be paying too much for mobility aids such as mobility scooters & stair-lifts, and the elderly & disabled can experience high pressure & misleading sales practices when buying this equipment at home, the OFT has warned. 

The OFT found there can be a wide disparity in the price of identical products, for example the price of one brand & model of scooter varied by £3,000. Around half of trader websites & advertising material that were checked did not quote any prices.

The OFT has also launched a national consumer awareness campaign providing consumers with practical tips and informing them of their rights when buying mobility aids on the doorstep.

Press release & links

BIS:   A new law came into force last week that will give SMEs easier access to justice to protect their copyright & trade marks. The Patents County Court (Financial Limits) Order (No.2) 2011 creates a clearer definition of which disputes involving copyright & trade mark claims should be heard in the Patents County Court (PCC) and which ones should go to the High Court.

Press release & links


EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News:  Business schools play a crucial role in equipping young women for a career in business and helping them to reach the top. They are helping women to prepare for professional careers through seminars, training programmes and providing networking opportunities. 

Their initiatives follow Vice-President Reding's call to companies to pledge to voluntarily increase the number of women on corporate boards to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020.  The ‘Women Boardroom Pledge’ will help monitor how companies are working towards getting more women in top jobs.

Press release & links

EU News:  Aviation will become part of the EU's emissions trading system (EU ETS) from 2012.  The European Commission has published the benchmark values which will be used to allocate greenhouse gas emission allowances free of charge to more than 900 aircraft operators.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has presented its first proposal for 2012 fishing opportunities for certain stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea.  Last week’s proposal sets levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort for the fish stocks managed by the EU exclusively, and not for stocks managed with third countries. 

A second proposal will deal with the 66 stocks for which the fishing opportunities must be agreed with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) or in the context of consultations with third countries and will be tabled later this autumn.  Thanks to splitting the proposal in this way, fishermen will learn sooner how much they can fish in 2012 and be able to plan ahead better.

Press release & links ~ ScotGov comment

EU News:  According to a report issued by the Commission last week, foreign students still experience difficulties coming to the EU to study, due to an uneven implementation of the relevant EU legislation.   Directive 2004/114/EC establishes common rules of admission for non EU nationals to an EU Member State for the purposes of studies, pupil exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service. 

The first report on how Member States have implemented EU rules on the entry & residence of students, pupils, unremunerated trainees & volunteers from third countries suggests that the use of these forms of temporary migration could be further improved.  

Press release & links

EU News:  The EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) has developed a statistical modelling tool which allows the risk of conflict occurrence in developing countries to be analysed.  Combining online news reports with geographical satellite data, the tool establishes a link between natural resources and the risk of conflict. 

A key advance is the very detailed scale of the data (most being gathered to the square kilometre) and the fact that the modelling is based on the seriousness of the conflicts.  When tested, the model successfully identified the correlation between resource-rich areas of land and occurrence of conflict.  This approach has potential use in the European Commission's development aid planning and crisis prevention.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has issued its 28th Annual Report on monitoring the Application of EU Law (2010). The report shows a decrease in the number of infringement procedures launched by the Commission against Member States for failure to apply EU law.  A new working method, EU Pilot, has played a major role in addressing possible infringements.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has decided to step up legal action against Spain, Poland, Slovenia & Lithuania to ensure that consumers benefit from the protection granted under EU rules on timeshare sales (Directive 2008/122/EC)

The EU rules (the Timeshare Directive) provide significant protection for consumers against unwanted timeshare contracts – agreements of more than one year under which the consumer buys a right to use accommodation, such as an apartment at a holiday resort, during certain periods.

Press release & links

EU News:  Buying tickets for music & sporting events on the internet is now much less likely to end in tears, following a crackdown on problematic websites which sold tickets to non-existent events or which failed to explain whether the buyer would get a refund or not, if the event was cancelled.  88% of the websites selling tickets for cultural and sporting events, checked for breach of EU consumer rules, now comply with EU law (compared with only 40% in 2010).

Press release & links

EU News:  Last week the European Commission published its Annual Report on the Protection of the EU's Financial Interests and the Fight against Fraud in 2010.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 19 December 2011) on strengthening EU measures to reduce emissions of fluorinated gases, a group of industrial gases which are extremely powerful contributors to global warming – See ‘ Consultations’ section for more information.

EU News
:  EU nationals who habitually reside in the are subject to the so-called 'right to reside' test to qualify for certain social security benefits. As this test indirectly discriminates non-UK nationals coming from other EU Member States it contravenes EU law

This is why the EC has requested the to stop its application. The request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion" under EU infringement procedure.  The has 2 months to inform the Commission of measures it has taken to bring its legislation into line with EU law.  Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the to the EU's Court of Justice.
Press release & links

Charity and Voluntary Sector

10 DS:  Orange RockCorps, an innovative programme connecting people who want to make a difference to their community with dynamic charities in their area, is the latest winner of Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.

The ORC programme inspires people to volunteer within their community by producing concerts for which you can’t buy a ticket.  By giving 4 hours of their time to work on a volunteer project, participants can earn a ticket to an exclusive gig.  So far over 36,000 people have earned themselves a ticket to an ORC event. 

Press release & links

BHF:  New research has found low dose ibuprofen is less likely to increase someone’s risk of heart or circulatory disease, compared to other painkillers.  Analysis of more than 50 previous studies showed non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac, even in doses available without prescription, elevated someone’s risk of heart attack or stroke.  The findings also indicated that indomethacin and new NSAID etoricoxib were associated with an increased risk.

Press release & links

ACE:  Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the DCMS have announced further details of the £100m Catalyst scheme to boost private giving to the cultural sector and build long-term resilience, sustainability & innovation.  Full guidance for applicants has now been published with the first part of the scheme now open for heritage applications.

Press release & links

DWP:  Dozens of organisations from across the voluntary, private & public sectors are coming together in partnership to celebrate the lives of older people and address the challenges of our ageing society.  Launched last week to coincide with Older People’s Day celebrations, the Age Action Alliance will work together to improve the lives of older people and help transform communities into a better place to grow older.

Press release & links

Business and Other Briefings

ECGD:  The Export Credits Guarantee Department has announced it was resuming cover for British exports to Libya. The announcement makes ECGD the first major ECA to resume cover for since the NATO airstrikes against the former Qadaffi regime began in March this year.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  A 'Champions Group' will oversee an advice service for companies involved in bidding for public contracts, it was announced last week.  The expert group of public, private & third sector representatives will be tasked with raising awareness of The Single Point of Enquiry, and maximising its use by suppliers.

Press release & links

Industry News

DH:  The government recently announced an acceleration of the dismantling of the National Programme for IT, following the conclusions of a new review by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority (MPA).  The programme was created in 2002 under the last government and the MPA has concluded that it is not fit to provide the modern IT services that the NHS needs.

The MPA found that there have been substantial achievements which are now firmly established, such as the Spine, N3 Network, NHSmail, Choose and Book, Secondary Uses Service & Picture Archiving and Communications Service.  

Their delivery accounts for around two thirds of the £6.4bn money spent so far and they will continue to provide vital support to the NHS.  However, the review reported the National Programme for IT has not & cannot deliver to its original intent.

A new partnership with Intellect, the Technology Trade Association, will explore ways to stimulate a marketplace that will no longer exclude SME companies from participating in significant government healthcare projects.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  A £35m fund to support production of new offshore wind technology in was unveiled at the opening of the second Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference in Edinburgh .  First Minister Alex Salmond also announced that 'Oyster' wave energy developer Aquamarine Power has secured £7m of new funding and a commitment of further investment from existing shareholders over the next 2 years to help take the company to commercialisation in 2014.

And he welcomed the publication by Scottish Enterprise of a new Offshore Wind guide - which emerged following last year's inaugural SLCI conference - indicating that Scotland 's oil & gas sector can help reduce offshore wind costs by at least 20%.

Press release & links

WAG:  Welsh food & drink producers are preparing for the biggest international food & drink trade event of the year - Anuga, which takes place in Germany in October.  Held at the Koeln Messe in Cologne, 7 Welsh companies will be exhibiting on the Welsh Government-organised True Taste of Wales stand: Trioni Ltd, The Lewis Pie and Pasty Company, Plas Farm, The Anglesey Sea Salt Company, Wholebake Ltd, The Celt Experience Brewery, and Ty Nant Spring Water.

The event’s location is of great importance to the Welsh companies exhibiting, as exports to grew by 20% during the first half of 2010, and account for some £392m of business, making the fourth largest export market for food & drink companies.

Press release & links ~ Anuga

ScotGov:  A new £12.5m centre to develop next-generation offshore wind technology in was officially opened last week by First Minister Alex Salmond and Jorge Calvet, Chairman & Chief Executive of leading international turbine manufacturer Gamesa.  Work at the technology centre is dedicated to the design and development of the company's offshore wind platform G14X-6/7.0MW.

Press release & links

BIS:  A £760,000 competition to support & improve the way in which universities can maximise innovation has been launched by Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Wilcox.  The Fast Forward Competition encourages Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) to work together with businesses & local communities to share research, innovation & intellectual property (IP). 

Applicants can bid for funding ranging from £10,000 to £100,000 for proposals that will improve the way in which their intellectual property and knowledge exchange is managed.  The closing date for competition proposals to be received is 30 December 2011.

Press release & links ~ 2012 Fast Forward Competition

CLG:  A new £4.3m low carbon project (Aim High project) has been launched in the West Midlands set to help over 120 local building businesses learn & and take forward business opportunities using innovative technologies.  Over 345 pre-war & Victorian houses will be refurbished to demonstrate the benefits of installing environmental technologies, and put to the test by local residents who will live & benefit from the energy efficient housing driving up demand and creating further opportunities for local businesses.

Press release & links

Forthcoming Event

BIS:  An army of recent graduates are hitting the road to tell students about the changes to the university finance system coming into effect next year.  Graduates will lead the Student Finance Tour giving presentations to explain the new student finance system and the financial help that is available.  Students & their families will also be offered one-to-one advice about going to university.

The Student Finance School and College Tour aims to visit over 2,300 schools, FE & sixth form colleges across in run up to the UCAS application deadline on 15 January 2012.

Press release & links

MoD:  Military & civilian medics who provide innovative healthcare for serving personnel & veterans have been shortlisted in the Military and Civilian Health Partnership Awards (MCHPA).  Winners are due to be announced in November 2011 at a ceremony at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery .

Press release & links

WAG:  Cardiff has been selected as the city to host WOMEX, the leading world music expo (23 - 27 October, 2013).  Described by UNESCO as the most important international professional market of world music of every kind, WOMEX evening performances will be held at the Wales Millennium Centre, and the day time.
Press release & links

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