In the News
DH: Hard enough task even in good times - The Government is joining forces with Comic Relief to help tackle mental health stigma, with funding of up to £20m for Time to Change (TtC), the leading stigma & anti-discrimination campaign, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
The funding will help TtC continue its work until March 2015 and help change attitudes & behaviours on a mass scale, empowering individuals to tackle discrimination across all sectors & communities. It will also help test new approaches to tackling mental health stigma & discrimination amongst children & young people, starting with some specific work with the African Caribbean community.
TtC runs events & campaigns as varied as getting young men & women into the boxing gym where they can meet people, pick up new skills and improve their mental health & confidence; and campaigning to change public behaviour towards people with mental health problems. The new funding will allow TtC to ‘reach 29m members of the public and increase the confidence of 100,000 people with mental health problems to challenge stigma and discrimination’.
Press release ~ Related TUC press release ~ Time to Change ~ Mind ~ Rethink Mental Illness ~ Comic Relief ~ DH: mental health and well-being ~ Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2011-15 A Consultation ~ See Me ~ Mental Health issues: Removing the stigma ~ Time to change ~ DH: Consultation on draft suicide prevention strategy ~ NICE guideline aims to help GPs provide quick, cost-effective treatment to improve the lives of millions of people experiencing common mental health disorders ~ Workplace interventions for people with common mental health problems: Evidence review & recommendations ~ Getting a life ~ National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health ~ Mental Health, The Last Workplace Taboo ~ Depression Alliance ~ NICE: Promoting mental wellbeing at work ~ Working together for better mental health ~ Helping Youth with Mental Health Needs Avoid Transition Cliffs: Lessons from Pioneering Transition Programs ~ Transitioning Youth with Mental Health Needs to Meaningful Employment and Independent Living ~ CQC: Small groups but often with bigger problems (Third item)
MoD: Unless one has faced the dangers of bullets & IEDs, it is difficult to ‘understand’ - To mark the Army's mental health campaign 'Don't Bottle It Up' and World Mental Health Day, a senior non-commissioned officer reveals her battle with depression and the support that helped her recovery. Fearless & chatty, Staff Sergeant Vicky Charnock brims with confidence, but it wasn't always that way.
In 2009, she was diagnosed with depression: "I didn't really notice the signs and symptoms for what they were," she admits. "I had been physically ill and had been having problems - I hadn't been sleeping well and was in the grip of low mood, low appetite and tearfulness - but I didn't recognise it for what it was."
Press release & links ~ Related press release ~ DH VMH press release ~ Rethink Mental Illness ~ Combat Stress ~ Management of Mental Health in Veterans: The role of the Third Sector Charity Combat Stress ~ Reserves' Mental Health Programme ~ BIG: Forces in Mind Trust ~ Factsheet: Medical Assessment Programme ~ Post-traumatic stress disorder ~ Shedding light on mental health in the forces ~ Across the Wire: Veterans, Mental Health, and Vulnerability ~ DH: For some the real problems start after the ‘safe’ return home (First item)
HL: Not having a ‘home’ is depressing enough - As homelessness rises in the UK, 70% of people who are homeless report having one or more mental health need. However, a third of them say they lack the support they need to address their mental health.
Homeless Link marked this year’s World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day (Monday 10 Oct) with the launch of their Homelessness, Mental Health & Wellbeing Guide.
Press release ~ Homelessness, mental health & wellbeing guide ~ Homeless Link: Mental health policy context ~ Mental health and well-being project in London ~ Mental Health – SNAP survey ~ ‘Worrying times ahead’ for homeless in England ~ 4 facts, 4 questions about the future of Supporting People ~ The Escape Plan ~ "The homeless who slide down rubbish chute to their beds..." ~ www.150voices.com ~ Providence Row ~ Homeless Pages ~ CRASH ~ Crisis ~ HL: 2010 manifesto to end homelessness ~ Move on ~ Barnardo's Moving On Project ~ Homeless UK – Moving On
CQC: This is getting as repetitive as the inquiries into deaths of battered children – The Care Quality Commission has published a report into the standards of care that older people receive in hospital – and calls for a system-wide response to combat the failings identified.
This report summarises the findings of 100 unannounced inspections of NHS acute hospitals which took place between March & June 2011, looking at whether the essential standards of dignity & nutrition were being met on wards caring for older people. More than 50% of the hospitals needed to do more to ensure that they were meeting people’s needs – with 20% failing to meet essential standards required by law.
Press release ~ DANI National report ~ Individual inspection reports ~ CQC warns James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that it is still failing to meet the nutritional needs of people in its care ~ NHS – Confed: The ‘shocking’ thing is that we even need to have a commission to look into the issue (Scroll down to 5th item) ~ WAG: Will the watchdog just ‘bark’ or will it also ‘bite’ hospitals that fail to care? (Scroll down to 5th item) ~ Eating Well in Hospital - what you should expect ~ Hospital Catering and Patient Nutrition ~ King’s Fund: Patient-centred care ~ Dignity in Care Network
nef: We should be supporting the method which gives the best net gains - Allocating fish quota & funds across the fleet without any social & environmental criteria is costing the economy, environment & society, according to a new report from independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation).
Current allocation of fish quota & funds across the fleet fails to deliver ‘best value to society’ with some cases delivering negative value. The report, Value slipping through the net, reveals the inefficiency of a system which rewards those who underperform in social, economic & environmental terms and punishes those that generate more societal benefits.
The report compares two types of fishing – gillnets & trawlers – in terms of value created for society in terms of net revenues, employment, subsidies, discards, and GHG emissions. It found:
* For every tonne of cod landed, trawlers delivered negative value ranging from -£116 for the smallest trawlers to almost -£2,000 for the largest, while Gillnets, on the other hand, generated a net +£865 of value
* The largest trawlers received direct subsidies of £219/tonne of cod landed while gillnets received £38
Press release & links ~ Value slipping through the net ~ 'Sea fisheries: steps to sustainability' - report ~ Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) ~ Profitable Futures for Fishing ~ MSC environmental standard for sustainable fishing ~ Fish on line
EU News: Agricultural still (cap)tures virtually half of EU funds - The European Commission has presented a draft reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period after 2013. This draft ‘aims to strengthen the competitiveness, sustainability and permanence of agriculture throughout the EU in order to secure for European citizens a healthy and high-quality source of food, preserve the environment and develop rural areas’.
Press release & links ~ ScotGov comment
AUK: Clicking for gold! - As the country gears up for a year of celebrating its Olympic champions, Age UK is looking for a different kind of Champion for 2012. They are calling on all computer connoisseurs aged over 55 to enter their search to become 1 of 2 Internet Champions of the Year. They will act as an inspiration to the 5.7m people over 65 who have never used the internet before to get online.
Press release & links
RoSPA: Safer to forget Greenwich Mean Time? - With the dark nights drawing in, RoSPA has been recently urging the public to put a stop to daylight robbery; with the launch of an online poll. For decades, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has been at the forefront of a crusade to give the an extra hour of evening daylight - citing research that shows lighter nights would save 80 lives and prevent more than 200 serious injuries on our roads each year. The survey result will be revealed on 26 October 2011.
Press release & links
Free Seminar: Asset and Waste Management in the Public Sector - 17th November 2011, Broadway House, Westminster,
London - The Disposal Services Authority is running a free seminar in
Westminster for those responsible for waste management and disposals in the public sector. The event will address the financial and environmental costs of disposal; identify what is waste and what is an asset; and share ideas on realising income from seemingly valueless items.
Speakers at this event include:
Dr. Dominic Hogg, Technical advisor at two House of Commons Inquiries into waste, he has been serving as an ex-officio advisor to Defra’s New Technologies Programme since before its commencement.
The seminar programme will include:
• Identifying assets from waste
• Compliance and Security
• Sustainability through procurement
Free enrolment to Public Sector delegates only – very limited capacity.
Click here to find out more and to register.
Case Studies: NHS Trusts Deliver Cost-Efficiencies, Improved Productivity and Sustainable Healthcare - Recent research has shown that IT departments spend up to a third of their time responding to printer-related problems. This is a huge, but largely undocumented, cost associated with unreliable devices, and one which is compounded by the loss in productivity.
The following NHS organisations have recently achieved measurable, high impact cost savings, productivity gains, and waste reduction:
* Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
* Avon and Wiltshire mental health partnership NHS Trust
* Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Click here to receive all 3 of the above case studies
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
OS: From last week, Ordnance Survey staff across the country will be using the social networking site Twitter to provide live updates as they map the ever changing Great British landscape. Anyone interested in maps, geography and the vital role they play underpinning daily life is invited to follow their updates to learn more about the range of work they do every day.
NA: As part of its ongoing work with archives, The National Archives is conducting a wide-ranging review of its online resources that documents the country's archival collections and their locations over the next few months. The Finding Archives review will work with users of the National Register of Archives and the ARCHON Directory, as well as other tools to develop a better understanding of their requirements and how these resources should look and operate in the future.
An online survey is being carried out to ensure that everyone with an interest in these resources has a chance to contribute and a representative sample of stakeholders will be selected for focus groups to explore particular issues in depth. The survey will run from November to December 2011.
ScotGov: Scotland's only poppy factory marks its 90th anniversary this year. The famous Lady Haig's Poppy Factory in Edinburgh employs veterans with disabilities to hand-assemble Scotland's poppies & wreaths.
FSA: Sainsbury’s is recalling some date codes of its own-brand Lentilles Vertes. Some packs contain wheat or gluten, which is not mentioned on the pack. The Food Standards Agency has issued an allergy alert.
FSA: The Co-op is recalling all of its Wholefoods Dried Lentilles Vertes. Some packs contain wheat, which isn’t mentioned on the label. The Food Standards Agency has issued an allergy alert.
FSA: Rock Farm Dairy is recalling some date codes of milk & cream products after consumers complained about a taint & odour. No harmful health effects have been reported, but if you have bought any of the products, do not eat them. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
LSN: NationalExtensionColleg e (NEC), formed nearly 50 years ago and now part of Learning and Skills Network, is one of the country’s leading providers of qualifications by distance learning. NEC have recently established a Corporate Partnership Offer for organisations – both large & small – who want to extend their employee benefit or development schemes at a time when finances & resources are under severe pressure.
Many employees wish to complete a qualification to fill a gap in their CV, skill set or for their own personal development. The Corporate Partnership is designed as a cost effective solution to this benefiting both employer & employee.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has launched the ‘Financial Reporting Lab’ which ‘brings together companies & investors to identify practical solutions to today's reporting problems, such as the length and complexity of reports and accounts’. The FRC hopes the Lab will take a large part of the cost & risk out of the process of innovation & reduce the need for regulatory intervention. Press release & links
Ofgem: After extensive analysis, Ofgem has decided to progress its preferred model for the reform of the retail energy market. It has also published its latest report on prices which shows that the average dual fuel bill now stands at £1,345 and, following recent price rises, estimated suppliers’ margins have peaked at around £125 per year, but are likely to fall back next year.
This report on prices does nothing to alter Ofgem’s findings in March 2011 that competition is being stifled by a combination of tariff complexity, poor supplier behaviour & lack of transparency and that radical change is needed. Ofgem will publish its detailed proposals in late November 2011 for consultation, including its proposals for reform in the business energy market.
ScotGov: Scotland's biggest celebration of the Gaelic language, the Royal National Mòd, has kicked off in the Western Isles. Minister for Gaelic, Alasdair Allan, spoke at the event's opening ceremony and outlined plans to work with the Office of Gaelic Affairs in Nova Scotia to allow up to 5 Gaelic learners to travel to Scotland for summer language lessons.
He also announced plans to fund the Ness Historical Society with their plans to become a new Gaelic 'hub' in North Lewis, offering language, local history and genealogy courses for locals & visitors.
HPA: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is aware of a further 3 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in people who have travelled to Corfu since August 2011, bringing the total to 12. Another 3 possible cases with travel history to Corfu are under investigation.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DfE: The Department for Education is to give the independent exams watchdog Ofqual new powers to fine exam boards which make mistakes in papers. The move follows 11 errors in a range of A levels, AS levels and GCSEs in England this summer, affecting almost 140,000 papers.
The size of any fine imposed would have to be in proportion to the seriousness & scale of the error. The maximum penalty would be 10% of an organisation’s turnover. Fines would be paid to the public purse, the Government’s consolidated fund. The Government hopes the new power will be introduced for next summer’s exams subject to a 12-week consultation, conducted by Ofqual, and to legislation.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has robustly opposed cuts to Scottish coastguard operations, in response to the UK Government's consultation on 'modernisation' plans for the service. The proposals for the Coastguard Service would see the Scotland's Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres cut from 5 to 3.
Scottish Ministers were not consulted about the proposals before they were published. Scotland has some 60% of the Great Britain coast, but, these proposals would leave Scotland with only 33% of stations in the UK.
DfE: The PM and Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, last week hosted a summit at Downing Street to drive forward progress on tackling the commercialisation & sexualisation of childhood. The summit follows a review in June by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers' Union which made a series of recommendations to businesses, broadcasters and regulators. In addition to the launch of ParentPort, a raft of new measures were announced (see PR for details).
DH: A year on from a Ministerial review that confirmed the importance of Summary Care Records in supporting urgent & emergency care, patient groups are advocating its use to improve care for the millions of people with long term conditions they represent.
The SCR is a secure, electronic patient record which is currently being introduced in England. Last October’s review restricted the record to carrying basic information about medications, allergies & bad reactions to drugs.
WO: The Government has announced the membership of the Commission on Devolution in Wales and its Terms of Reference (ToR). The Commission’s ToR reflect the fact that it will carry out its work in two parts:
* In Part 1, the Commission will look at the case for the devolution of fiscal powers to the National Assembly, recommending a package of fiscal powers that would improve its accountability
* In Part 2, the Commission will look at the powers of the Assembly and recommend modifications to improve the present constitutional arrangements.
The Commission will make every effort to report to the UK Government on its recommendations in relation to Part 1 in the autumn of 2012, and on Part 2 during 2013.
Press release & links
WAG: A new £75m Welsh Government scheme will create 4,000 new jobs a year in Wales for the next 3 years, the First Minister of Wales. Starting in April 2012, Jobs Growth Wales will create 4,000 new job opportunities a year across Wales for unemployed young people, aged 16-24, for a 6-month period.
DH: A bid to slash 5bn calories off the nation’s daily diet was set out as part of the Government’s new plan to tackle obesity by the Department of Health last week. The obesity Call to Action announces a new national ambition for reversing the tide of excess weight in England. England already has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe - Over 60% of adults and a third of 10 & 11 year olds are overweight or obese.
Eating or drinking too many calories is at the heart of the obesity problem. A detailed analysis by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has published more precise data about the number of calories we all need
MoD: The Minister for the Armed Forces, Nick Harvey, has announced the conclusion of a review into the provision of the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA).
IfG: Speaking to an audience of pressure groups, think tanks & journalists, David Cameron announced significant rule changes including a clamp-down on forced marriages. In addition, Mr Cameron said that in future, individuals applying to come to the UK for family reasons will have to show that they can speak English and have the financial resources to support themselves, as well as genuine family links in Britain.
DCMS: The DCMS has recently published its response to the Culture, Media and Sport’s (CMS) select committee report into football governance. The CMS inquiry, which began in February, heard from a wide range of witnesses from the world of football and published its findings on 29 July 2011.
The Government’s response sets out a number of recommendations for football. These include looking at the creation of a modern, accountable & representative Football Association (FA) Board, the implementation of a licensing framework administered by the FA in close cooperation with the professional game and changes to the decision-making structures within the FA.
DCMS: Tourism Minister John Penrose has announced his intention to carry out a review of stake & prize limits for gaming machines covered by the Gambling Act 2005.
DH: Over a million patient safety incidents are reported every year, so the Government is setting out proposals that will require NHS providers to be more open and admit when things go wrong. The new ‘Duty of Candour’ consultation (closes on 2 January 2010) will form part of the Government’s plans to modernise the NHS by making it more accountable & transparent and giving patients & local clinicians more power to hold the NHS to account.
MoD: The MoD is launching a consultation (closes on 6 January 2012) on how to take forward the findings of a review of single-source military equipment contracts, which found that the Government could potentially save hundreds of £ms by introducing new rules for industry.
Lord (David) Currie of Marylebone chaired the review of single-source procurement, which is currently subject to 'Yellow Book' rules - where only one defence supplier is invited to tender. Single-source contracts currently account for 40% of all MOD procurement and in-service support of equipment.
CLG: A statutory consultation (closes on 6 January 2012) proposing changes to local government pensions that ‘deliver fair cost savings’ has been published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Government's draft proposals aim to deliver short-term savings of £900m, by 2014/15 to the Local Government Pension Scheme in England & Wales. This was set in the Spending Review 2010.
In recognition of the way the LGPS is funded it was agreed alternative ways to find savings could be considered if they retained council taxpayer protections. The consultation proposes a balanced mix of increasing employee contributions and adjusting the accrual rates.
CO: Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has won this year’s ‘Better information from government’ award from the Demographics User Group for the progress he has made in making government data, such as that on crime, schools and public spending, more transparent.
The CO is currently consulting (closes on 27 October 2011) the public on ‘Making Open Data Real’. It is inviting views on how it can best embed a culture of openness & transparency in our public services.
DWP: The Government is inviting views (by 3 January 2012) on plans to bring the child maintenance system back into the heart of government, in order to improve accountability and assist in the process of reform. It is proposing to transfer the functions of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) into the Department for Work and Pensions, under direct Ministerial control.
ScotGov: The Commission on Rural Education is seeking views on how to maximise the attainment & achievement of children & young people in rural areas of Scotland. Individuals & organisations from across Scotland are invited to provide their views until 12 January 2012.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
BHF: The British Heart Foundation has launched a new booklet specifically for the 2m Polish community currently living in the UK. ‘Dbaj o zdrowe serce – Informacje dla Polaków’ is a practical resource to help Polish people look after their heart health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
WAG: New guidance setting out the best ways to tackle bullying in schools has yesterday been published by the Welsh Government. The guidance focuses on five distinct forms of bullying: bullying around race, religion and culture; bullying around special educational needs & disabilities; homophobic bullying; sexist, sexual & transphobic bullying and cyber-bullying.
Building on guidance published in 2003, Respecting Others provides detailed advice to schools on preventing, responding to & recording bullying, including examples of good practice, case studies and scenarios.
NICE: NHS Trusts are being urged to follow NICE recommendations to improve care for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), following the results of a national audit. The audit, conducted by the RoyalCollege of Physicians and the MS Trust, found that there has been little or no improvement in care for MS patients in the last 5 years, and NICE guidelines for the management of patients with MS are no closer to being met today than when they were first launched in 2003.
None of the 6 key recommendations made by NICE have been implemented widely or fully, such as ensuring that a rapid diagnosis is offered to all patients once they have experienced symptoms suggestive of MS, and making sure specialist services are in place.
WAG: The Welsh Government has launched the first 2 parts (of 5) of ‘Preparing for a changing climate', guidance which aims to help Welsh organisations adapt to the impacts of climate change. They focus on understanding adaptation and investigating the potential issues and will be followed in early 2012 by 3 further sections focussed on planning, implementation, monitoring & review.
BIS: Skills Minister John Hayes has unveiled an upgraded & improved standard to underpin the new National Careers Service. The Matrix Standard will promote effective delivery of information, advice & guidance to millions of people through the new National Careers Service, which launches in April 2012.
SFE: Student Finance England has unveiled its new range of resources for education professionals. The company is urging teachers & advisors to access the easy to use online resources to help prospective students with their university and finance choices in 2012/13.
It contains a wide range of support materials, from videos & presentations to information sheets and a downloadable key dates guide for students. Information is also available for students with children, part-time students or students with disabilities.
NE: A joint project by Natural England and the Church of England, researching how to deal with the serious heritage & conservation issues around bats in churches has set off to a flying start. Most churches have resident bats, which often go un-noticed, but serious problems do occur in some churches - and can be exceptionally difficult to resolve.
Natural England and the Church of England have joined forces to create the Bats in Churches Working Group to raise awareness of the issues. The project aims to provide those responsible for church buildings with guidance & advice on how best to manage resident bats, including how to deal with legal obligations.
HL: As homelessness rises in the UK, 7 out of 10 people who are homeless report having one or more mental health need. Homeless Link have launched their Homelessness, Mental Health and Wellbeing Guide – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
WAG: Oral health programmes such as the Designed to Smile scheme in disadvantaged communities are helping to reduce health inequalities, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales says in his 5th annual report.
General Reports and Other Publications
PC&PE: The Department for International Development (DFID) needs a clearer strategy for strengthening infrastructure in developing countries because poor roads, power & water networks are constraining growth in many countries, MPs on the International Development Committee have warned.
PCS: The PCS union claims that a Cabinet Office pensions leaflet sent to staff is woefully short on detail and does nothing to allay fears the government is intent on forcing people to pay more & work longer, for less in retirement.
PCS and the other unions are in talks with the government but they have consistently criticised ministers for refusing to negotiate properly and failing to provide adequate information. In their press release they ‘answer the main points in the leaflet’, which was issued to staff last week and is available to download.
CIPD: The Government contends that its programme of public sector job cuts is modest & manageable, relative to the overall level of public sector employment and given that the vast bulk of job losses won’t occur until late in the current Parliament.
However, in a report published last week, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development questions whether the Government’s current narrative stance on public sector job cuts is tenable. It argues that the Chancellor should in next month’s autumn statement announce a temporary halt to further cuts as part of any broader plan to stimulate economic growth and combat rising unemployment.
NHS Confed: The NHS Confederation is calling on the House of Lords to reduce the threat of the NHS being ‘paralysed by fuzzy structures & decision making processes that would prevent it from dealing with financial pressures and improving quality of care’. However, a NHS Confed. briefing for peers, published ahead of a major recent parliamentary debate, makes clear that it supports a number of the key principles in the Bill.
NAO: The Comptroller and Auditor General, Amyas Morse, has qualified his opinion on the 2010-11 House of Commons Members Accounts because information on MPs whose expense claims are under investigation by the police was not made available for audit.
ESRC: Governments should target aid towards individual households threatened with poverty because of soaring food costs rather than intervene in the markets to try to lower prices, according to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Governments in poorer countries should pay cash benefits directly to poor families instead of interventions such as price subsidies or controls. This type of interference causes distortions of the food markets and does not help the poorest.
IFS: A new forecast of income poverty among children & working-age adults in the UK has been published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
WWF-UK: A new paper by WWF and the Food Ethics Council (FEC) argues that Government has a clear role (and a mandate) to promote sustainable food consumption in the UK. The new report, A Square Meal, suggests that, despite the inherent complexities, it is possible to achieve the goals of promoting healthier diets, reducing the environmental impacts of food, and supporting British farmers & producers.
The report finds that western-style diets are increasingly unsustainable, both because of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of the food we eat, and because of the pressure on land use and production of other commodities associated with a diet high in meat, such as grains or soya.
PC&PE: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published its report on the Protection of Freedoms Bill. The committee welcomes the enhanced human rights protection which the Bill would provide, by proposing to repeal or reform measures which impinge on rights & freedoms, but believes that this protection should be strengthened further in some areas.
PC&PE: A politically-motivated review of the UK's carbon budgets in 2014 - announced by the Government - is undermining certainty in the future direction of climate policy, Parliament's Green Watchdog has warned. A new report by the Environmental Audit Committee welcomes the Government's decision to set the fourth carbon budget – required under the Climate Change Act - at the level recommended by the independent Committee on Climate Change.
But it questions the Government's decision to announce a review of this budget in 2014 in response to fears that it could be bad for business. The MPs warn that the prospect of a review could weaken investor confidence in low-carbon industries as it creates uncertainty about the future trajectory of emissions reductions.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has served up some food for thought by publishing information about GM foods, along with the views of a wide cross-section of interested parties, in the pages of its quarterly magazine Bite. The publication follows the Government’s announcement of 5 key principles for considering GM in the UK.
The principles emphasise the importance of listening to different views on the use of the technology. Bite was established by the FSA to discuss challenging food-related issues. The latest issue (entitled: ‘GM – novel cuisine or unpalatable prospect?’) looks at food security & sustainability and asks whether GM may or may not have a valid role to play.
NO: The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Reporton Complaints about disability issues was published last week. It explains the Ombudsman’s role in considering complaints about poor service & unfair treatment provided to people with disabilities. It sets out the Ombudsman’s approach to considering complaints and shows, through a series of real case studies, what the Ombudsman can achieve for individuals.
CU: In the 6 months since Lord Davies launched his independent review into women on boards, only 33 FTSE 100 companies have heeded his recommendation to set themselves targets for the number of women they aim to have on their boards. Of these, only 10 have set themselves targets of a 10%+ increase.
A progress report published by Cranfield School of Management has revealed that since the review, 21 women have been appointed to board positions out of a possible 93. This represents 22.5% of all new appointments, some way short of the 33% recommended in the Davies report.
DfE: GCSE pupils' reading is more than a year behind the standard of their peers in Shanghai, Korea & Finland, research revealed last week. 15-year-olds in England are also at least 6 months behind those in Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Japan & Australia, according to the Department for Education's (DfE) analysis of the OECD's 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study.
iea: New research released by the Institute of Economic Affairs shows:
* Small businesses disproportionately employ vulnerable people, such as those with no qualifications
* Government regulation is making it hard for self-employed people to take on employees
* There is an urgent need for the government to create exemptions from regulations for small businesses
* Small business provides employment for the vulnerable
Self-employment, Small Firms and Enterprise, reveals that small businesses provide vital opportunities for those who often struggle to find work in the rest of the labour market – those with no or few qualifications, immigrants, women with domestic responsibilities and those with poor English language skills. There is therefore not only an important economic, but also a social dimension to ensure the government is not holding back this sector.
ASI: New research released by the Adam Smith Institute calls on the government to ‘scrap the 50p tax, reduce other tax rates, and reform current immigration policies to attract more highly skilled migrants to the UK’.
The report, Taxing talent: how Britain can attract and retain the world’s best workers says that, with an ageing population, the government must focus on policy changes designed to keep highly skilled workers in the UK, while also attracting highly skilled migrants. Unless it can do this, the UK faces economic stagnation and a pensions crisis.
Ofsted: An Ofsted report identifies the factors which have helped colleges improve the quality of their science provision, or maintain high standards, and makes recommendations for further improvement. The survey report, Improving science in colleges, a survey of good practice, draws on evidence from inspections carried out in spring 2011, which set out to observe and evaluate teaching & learning and the quality of leadership & management in 18 colleges.
Legislation / Legal
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Justice has launched an Inquiry into Criminal Justice Services available to Victims & Witnesses of Crime in Northern Ireland. The aim of the inquiry is to learn from the experiences of people who have either been a victim of, or witness to crime – from dealings with the police, to the quality of information and support provided, and the handling of cases by the Courts Service. The deadline for written submissions to the Committee is Friday 4 November 2011.
SC: Last week the Sentencing Council published a new definitive guideline for the sentencing of burglars. The guideline reinforces current sentencing practice, which means that offenders burgling people’s homes can expect a custodial sentence. Sentencing will remain at existing levels, and the guideline aims to ensure that the effect on victims is at the centre of considerations about what sentence each offender should receive.
ScotGov: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has welcomed a Supreme Court decision to dismiss a legal challenge to a historic Act of the Scottish Parliament. The Supreme Court judges decided unanimously that the Scottish Parliament had acted within the scope of its powers when it passed the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act in 2009, legislation that offered those that have pleural plaques the opportunity to claim compensation. The Act has been subject to lengthy legal challenge by a group of insurers.
ScotGov: New rules to make it easier for people to make changes to their homes will come into force in February 2012. Within certain constraints, the rules will allow a range of works - including extensions, access ramps, sheds, garages & decking - to be built without applying for planning permission. Certain restrictions will still apply for conservation areas & listed buildings.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: Recently, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) adopted an opinion on the European Commission Communication on the open internet and net neutrality in Europe, a subject that has triggered great interest & controversy over recent months. Net neutrality refers to the issue of whether Internet service providers (ISPs) should be allowed to monitor network traffic to filter or restrict Internet access, for example to block specific services or applications (e.g. peer to peer) or give preference access to others.
The EDPS highlights the serious implications of these practices on the fundamental right to privacy & data protection of users, in particular, in terms of confidentiality of communications. Certain inspection techniques used by ISPs may indeed be highly privacy-intrusive, especially when they reveal the content of individuals' internet communications, including emails sent or received, websites visited and files downloaded. It is therefore crucial that compliance with data protection rules be closely monitored
EU News: 10 October 2011 marked the World & European Day against the Death Penalty. The abolition of the death penalty worldwide is one of the main objectives of the EU’s human rights policy. The EU considers the death penalty inhumane and a violation of human dignity. Any capital punishment resulting from a miscarriage of justice, from which no legal system can be immune, represents an irreversible loss of human life.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a decision which would allow it to coordinate the efforts of EU Member States to accelerate the commercial deployment of pan-European Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) and, if need be, to adopt appropriate enforcement measures.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda said: "We gave the two selected operators two years to deploy their systems. The time has now come for effective enforcement. Either operators deliver on their promises, or the spectrum which they have available, which is a scarce resource, should be used in other ways".
EU News: The consequences of the financial & economic crisis are deeply reflected in Member States' government revenues. Having implemented a wide range of tax stimulus measures from 2008 to 2010, the focus of tax policy has now clearly shifted towards a much needed consolidation of public finances in Member States. This is even more necessary in light of the difficulties currently faced by some Member States in refinancing their sovereign debt.
The 2011 report 'Tax reforms in EU Member States: Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability' takes a look at recent trends in tax revenues & tax reforms implemented in Member States. In view of future tax reforms Member States may implement the report analyses the issue of quality of taxation and identifies challenges for tax policy in euro-area Member States.
EU News: The new EU Consumer Rights Directive has been formally adopted by Member States in the EU's Council of Ministers. The new legislation will strengthen consumers' rights in all 27 EU countries, particularly when shopping online. Governments have 2 years to implement the rules at national level.
FSA: The European Commission has amended the listof certain seeds, sprouted seeds & beans prohibited from import to the European Union from Egypt. In July 2011 the EC announced an emergency ban on the import of fenugreek and certain seeds, sprouted seeds and beans imported from Egyptuntil 31 October 2011, following the two outbreaks of E.coli O104 in Germany & France.
Fresh & chilled peas and beans have now been taken off the list. The ECn reassessed the risk from these products following an audit by officials of production sites in Egypt. The Food Standards Agency has written to port health officials to inform them of these changes.
EU News: Last week, the European Commission adopted revised proposals clarifying the information that industry can supply to the public on prescription-only medicines.
EU News: A high-level group to provide recommendations for the respect, protection, support & promotion of media freedom & pluralism in Europehas been convened by EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes
EU News: Despite the success of the EU's Single Market, barriers to cross-border trade remain. Many of these result from divergent sales laws between the 27 Member States. They make selling abroad complicated and costly, especially for small firms.
Last week, the European Commission proposed an optional Common European Sales Law to help break down these barriers and give consumers more choice & a high level of protection. If traders offer their products on the basis of the CESL, consumers would have the option of choosing a user-friendly European contract with a high level of protection with just one click of a mouse. The Commission's proposal now needs approval from EU Member States and the European Parliament.
EU News: As from last week, the Visa Information System (VIS) started operations. Visa applications will now be processed much faster thanks to the use of biometrics (fingerprints & a digital facial image) which will facilitate the identification of visa holders and help to avoid identity theft. The first consular posts to be connected to the system are those in North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).
EU News: The Commission has presented a roadmap outlining the comprehensive response that is needed to restore confidence in the Euro area and the European Union as a whole. This response is ‘designed to break the vicious circle between doubts over the sustainability of sovereign debt, the stability of the banking system and the European Union's growth prospects'.
EU News: A number of recent media reports have made incorrect claims about the new Toy safety Directive, which entered into force on 20 July 2011. Several media have falsely claimed that the Directive would ban children under-8 from inflating balloons without adult supervision, because of the danger that young children could chew or swallow the balloon. Other inaccurate reports have stated that children under-14 would be banned from using paper blow outs. See press release for information on true scope of the Directive.
FCO: Minister for Europe David Lidington has explained why the first use of the European Union Act 2011 does not require a referendum in the UK. This Treaty change will provide a legal basis for euro area members to set up the European Stability Mechanism to provide financial assistance to euro area countries in crisis.
The Foreign Secretary has laid a statement before Parliament under the terms of the Act. In it, he states his opinion that the EU Treaty change Decision does not fall within section 4 of the EU Act and no referendum is required in the UK.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency and the agriculture and rural affairs departments for England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland have produced an updated version of the UK National Control Plan, which extends it to 31 March 2012.
The plan is a requirement of EU Regulation 882/2004 on official controls. It ensures that effective control systems are in place for monitoring and enforcing feed & food law, animal health & animal welfare rules, and plant health law.
EU News: The European Commission has presented a draft reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the period after 2013 – See ‘In the News’ section for more information
Charity and Voluntary Sector
Defra: Communities will be helped to bring the countryside into the city thanks to the launch of a new scheme to generate more green space in England’s towns & cities. With free space in urban areas in short supply, the Green Infrastructure Partnership has been designed to help communities make more innovative use of existing grey infrastructure – such as creating rooftop gardens, small community gardens or living walls.
Business and Other Briefings
DfT: Following consultation on proposals to allow a 2 metre increase in the length of articulated lorries, the Department for Transport is allowing a 10-year trial of up to 900 trailers at an increased length of 2.05 metres and 900 at an increase of 1 metre. The lorries will operate within the existing weight limit of 44 tonnes.
The trial is expected to provide a £33m boost to the haulage industry as the longer vehicles provide up to 13% more loading space – allowing fewer journeys to transport the same amount of goods - without compromising safety.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) last week announced its decision to amend the UK Corporate Governance Code to strengthen the principle on boardroom diversity which was first introduced into the Code in June 2010.
The amendments the FRC is announcing will require listed companies to report annually on their boardroom diversity policy (including gender) and on any measurable objectives that the board has set for implementing the policy and the progress it had made in achieving the objectives. The FRC will also update the Code to include the diversity of the board (including gender) as one of the factors to be considered when evaluating its effectiveness.
TfL: The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, recently announced that global airline Emirates will sponsor London's new cable car river crossing, to be known as the Emirates Air Line, in a 10-year deal worth £36m.
It will connect north & south London, travelling between 2 new stations set to be named Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and Emirates Royal Docks. Scheduled for completion in summer 2012 the EAL will offer commuters & visitors aerial views as they travel across the Thames and provide a much needed additional river crossing.
STFC: Supplying large scientific facilities can provide industry with a wide range of benefits, from generating international exposure to opening up new markets, not to mention a valuable source of income. To promote opportunities for UK electrical engineering firms at large international facilities, STFC and UKTI recently hosted a ‘Meet the Buyer’ meeting in London.
Informative presentations were followed by an afternoon of one-to-one meetings between potential suppliers and procurement & technical specialists from each of the facilities. STFC helps to introduce UK industry to large facilities through its tender opportunities service. Interested UK manufacturers can register now!
NLIS: Land Data and NLIS have celebrated the 20 millionth NLIS electronic search, at an event held at Land Data’s offices in London. The milestone is particularly significant as NLIS also celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
NLIS channel SearchFlow processed the search request from solicitors Streeter Marshall who instructed Reigate & Banstead Borough Council to supply official LLC1 and Con29 information for a property in Banstead. The electronic request was sent through to the local land charges team at the council and returned to the solicitor in just one & half days.
DSA: The Disposal Services Authority is running a free seminar in Westminster on Thursday 17 November 2011 for those responsible for waste management & disposals in the public sector. The event will:
* address the financial & environmental costs of disposal
* identify what is waste and what is an asset
* share ideas on realising income from seemingly valueless items.
IfG: The first in a series of events, held in collaboration between the Institute for Government and Fishburn Hedges, takes place on Wednesday 3 November 2011 and asks ‘Who Really Matters? Newspapers v Broadcast v Social Media'.
This series will be held at the IfG between November 2011 & February 2012. Look out for blogs, video & podcasts, as they explore these themes over the course of the series. To reserve your space, please RSVP by Monday 17 October 2011. As space at the event is limited, they will email back by Friday 21 October to confirm your reservation.
RoSPA: A Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents half-day seminar on 9 November 2011, at the National Metalforming Centre, West Bromwich will look at health & safety challenges that are shared across the manufacturing sector as part of RoSPA's ‘From Industry, For Industry’ series.
‘Diverse production, common problems’ will look at H&S challenges which are shared across the manufacturing sector. Although its output & processes are specialised and varied, the industry as a whole has common sources of injury and occupational ill health.
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