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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

ASIA fast way to waste public money - In a report released last week, the Adam Smith Institute ‘exposes’ the weaknesses in arguments for High Speed 2 and argues that the case for the project is fundamentally flawed.  Their research reveals the huge cost of HS2 to the taxpayer and suggests that many of the uptake projections are ‘overoptimistic’.  

Looking at HS1 (London to the Channel Tunnel) and international examples, the report claims that it ‘is clear HS2 will not make enough revenue to cover operational & construction costs and will bring very few tangible benefits’.

Looking at Europe ‘we see that nearly all high-speed rail projects are subsidised’.  The TGV in France has caused SNCF’s debt to rise to c£25bn.  The World Bank warned in 2010 of the debt created by high speed rail systems talking of the ‘near certainty of copious and continuing budget support for the (high speed rail) debt’.
Press release ~ High speed fail: Assessing the case for High Speed 2 ~ iea: High Speed 2 - the next government project disaster?  ~ DfT: HS Rail ~ High Speed Two Ltd (HS2) ~ Network Rail ~ Rail transport: The sustainable alternative for air travel in Europe ~ Energy Efficiency Technologies for Railways ~ ICE report - The Missing Link - High Speed rail UK ~ Stop HS2 ~ HS2 Action Alliance ~ Review of the business case for HS2 ~ Transport Watch UK ~ TWUK - HSR ~ nef: Response to HS2 consultation ~ Welsh Secretary joins First Great Western’s record breaking attempt between Cardiff & London ~ Debate: High Speed Rail ~ Is High-Speed Rail Worth Its Cost? ~ Economic Impact of High Speed 1 - Final report ~ HoC Briefing: Railways - Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1)

:  Planning for a dangerous & unstable world - The UK can no longer make effective national defence strategy as it once did, and the National Security Council (NSC) currently lacks the method & institutional frame to address future security threats, warns a new paper published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in partnership with the new Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at the University of Buckingham.

In the 'The British Way of Strategy-Making: Vital Lessons For Our Times' the author argues that muddling of military & civilian roles in the higher management of defence has increasingly blurred a correct & precise understanding of the different but complementary roles of grand strategy, operational strategy & government policy.  The progressive loss of clarity during the post-war years has led to the present day malaise.

Reflecting on the damning verdicts on the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and National Security Strategy from the House of Commons' Public Administration and Defence Select Committees, he suggests the NSC does not yet have established suitable methods for analysis to provide our security in the face of epic geopolitical uncertainties.
Press release ~ The British Way of Strategy-Making; Vital Lessons For Our Times ~ National Security Strategy ~ MoD: Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) ~ Defence Select Committee publications ~ Chatham House: UK Foreign Policy Goals Cannot Be Achieved by Military Power Alone ~ RUSI: The Defence Reform Agenda ~ Future Reserves 2020 Study (FR20) Final Report ~ RUSI: Ministry of Defence Needs Revolutionary Reform to Manage Cuts ~ BAE: Global Combat Ship ~ RUSI - Type 26: A Global Role for the Global Combat Ship ~ MOD launches Building Stability Overseas Strategy ~ Unbalancing the Force: Prospects for UK Defence After the SDSR ~ RUSI: Future Defence Review ~ Entente or Oblivion: Prospects and Pitfalls of France-British Co-operation on Defence ~ RUSI: Restructuring Europe’s Armed Forces in Times of Austerity ~ Companion study ~ RUSI: The Defence and Security Review SurveyNo Shortcut to Stability: Justice, Politics and Insurgency in Afghanistan ~ CH: UK Security & Defence – Rapporteur reports: ~ Strategic Communications and National Strategy ~ Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty ~ Cultural Dialogue in International Security: New Thinking for Europe and America ~ CH: On Cyber Warfare ~ NAO: Carrier Strike ~ UK cost-cutting review shrinks military capacity ~ Future Character of Conflict ~ PX: Upgrading Our Armed Forces ~ IISS Experts' Commentary - Intelligence assumes a front-line position in SDSR (see also links to other articles

:  ‘A place of safety’ can be a relative term - Ofsted has published 2 reports which highlight the vulnerability of teenagers in the child protection system:
* One describes the success that some local authorities have had in improving outcomes for these young people, by supporting them to remain living successfully at home rather than bringing them into care
* The other highlights key practice issues in the protection of young people as well as babies under one, who remain one of most vulnerable groups of all
Press release & links ~ Social care inspection: the children's audit ~ Good practice by Local Safeguarding Children Boards ~ The framework for inspecting boarding and residential provision in schools ~ Munro Review ~ Messages for Munro ~ Young People’s Guide to the Munro Review report ~ Children's Views Report on Family Justice

Helping those at risk ‘face’ the problems of flooding - A new support network for those affected by, and at risk of, flooding has been created on Facebook

Flood Group UK
is a new page to help communities at risk of flooding to support each other, which was launched last week by government organisations & flood forums from across the UK. With around 5.4m properties in the UK at risk of flooding, it is important that individuals & communities take steps to prepare themselves for flooding as winter approaches.
Press release & links ~ Check your flood risk ~ Flood & coastal erosion risk management progress report 2008-2011 for England ~ NAO: Flood Risk Management in England (published 28/10/11) ~ RUSI:  As the summer flooding season starts (first item)

‘West Lothian question’ joined by ‘In the Welsh Valleys question’! - A landmark judgment has been handed down by the Supreme Court raising ‘A matter of great constitutional importance’.  The ruling in the case of AXA v Lord Advocate recognised the primary status of legislation passed by a devolved Government.  

The Welsh Government sees the judgment as recognition by the Supreme Court that the National Assembly has (within the scope of its policy areas) the same law making powers as the Westminster Parliament.
Press release ~ Judgement ~ AXA v Lord Advocate – written statement

Have you had a ‘telegram’ from the Queen - University College London (UCL) are looking for people over the age of 100 to take part in a study to help understand the secrets of why some people live longer & healthier lives than others

Understanding the secrets of ageing is becoming an increasingly important topic in Britain as our population ages.  Some people age happily, and manage to lead very successful & active lives until they’re over 100-years-old; but others do not, and suffer from age-related illnesses, only living into their 60s or 70s.
Press release & links

Helping SMEs to bid for public sector work - A new website will make it easier for Scottish companies to bid for work in the public sector. The online Supplier Journey will guide businesses through the process of applying for contracts, making the system more streamlined and easier to understand.
Press release & links

Make it go with an ‘Ooooooooh’ not an ‘Aaaaaaaaaaargh’ - As people across Northern Ireland get ready to mark Halloween with a fireworks display, RoSPA is urging families to stay safe & remember the firework code.  Disappointingly, firework injuries around Halloween showed an increase last year - the first rise for several years.

RoSPA’s fireworks website has everything you need to know about planning a safe fireworks display.  It provides details of UK law, including the licensing arrangements in Northern Ireland, tips for setting up a display and the firework code.
Press release & links

:  In memory of those who didn’t ‘make it home’ - Six RAF officers have travelled to the former 'Great Escape' prison camp - Stalag Luft III in Zagan, Poland - to re-enact activities which were carried out by prisoners of war (POWs) in their attempts to escape from the camp during the Second World War.

Industry News: Public Sector at Comet Working within Frameworks - Public sector at Comet has been working within government for over 20 years. They fully understand the ever increasing demands on public sector budget and the need to develop smarter ways to procure. Frameworks encourage collaborative spending, preferential terms, unique solutions and upfront tangible savings, which can only benefit organisations that need to stretch their budget as far as they can.  Public Sector at Comet have recently been successful in tendering for the North Western Universities Purchasing Consortium (NWUPC) white goods and small domestic appliances framework.

Click here below to find out more.

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

General News

DCMS: Everyone can now play their part in choosing who will be crowned the Next BRIT Thing, as voting opens for the nationwide music competition. The contest, aimed at 11-19 years-olds, is made up of 2 categories: popular & classical music, plus an additional award for composition.  For over a month entrants have been uploading their audio & video recordings, with nearly a 1,000 entries received so far.
MoD: Key facilities are now up and running at Phoenix House, a Defence Recovery Centre at Catterick Garrison, allowing the first recovering Armed Forces personnel to start moving in. Phoenix House is the newest of the Army-led Personnel Recovery and Assessment Centreswhich are being built across the country in partnership with Help for Heroes (H4H) and the Royal British Legion (RBL). 
HO: The search for the most innovative crime fighting project in England & Wales entered its final phase last week as the public vote for the 2011 Tilley Awards went live. 16 projects are in the running following a nationwide search over the summer. The public vote (closes on 28 November 2011) will be hosted on the Home Office website and the winner will be announced in December 2011. 
WAG:Young farmers from across Wales can apply for support under the Welsh Government’s innovative Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) during the application window for the 2012-13 scheme, which will be open from 24 October to which will be open from 16 December 2011.  This scheme provides support for new entrants to farming (under the age of 40) who are setting up as head of the holding for the first time, or who have set-up as head of holding within the previous year.
CIPD: The Opportunity Now Awards recognise the advancement of women in the workplace through a celebration of outstanding examples of best practice, innovation & individual achievement. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is proud to partner with Opportunity Now for the Directing Diverse Talent Award for the 4th year running. The Award recognises the individual impact of an HR professional’s & and determination in driving diversity forward in their organisation.
The opportunity to enter applications is now open and any employer with a UK presence is eligible to enter - the deadline for submission is Wednesday 7 December 2011.
FSA: A batch of olives produced in Italy has been withdrawn from sale in the UK after 2 people in Helsinki, Finland, were diagnosed with botulism. Both people reported having eaten Gaudiano Organic Olives Stuffed with Almonds.  Lab tests confirmed that the jar from which they had eaten the olives contained botulinum toxin. The tainted olives were in 314ml glass jars with a 'best before' date of 09/2012.
FSAAunt Bessie’s is recalling packs of its Scrumptious Bramley Apple Crumble, with a 'best before' date of end of January 2013, because small pieces of plastic might be on the top surface of the crumble.  If you have purchased this product do not eat it. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSAMorrison’s is recalling one batch of its Shredded Duck Kit because it has the wrong date code.  The affected batch has a ‘use by’ date of 31 November 2011.  It should have been labelled ‘use by’ 31 October 2011. If you have bought the product being recalled, do not eat it. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
RoSPA: An overwhelming majority of people want clock change - that’s according to a survey carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.  RoSPA’s online poll, which concluded recently, asked: “Would you like to see an extra hour of evening daylight all year round, across the UK?” The answer was emphatic, with 92% of respondents saying “yes”.
ScotGov: A new £3m scheme - the NRS Career Researcher Fellowship - will support the next generation of researchers in NHSScotlandRunning for three years from 2012, the scheme will allow clinical staff within the NHS to develop a research career by funding protected time for research activities.
In the first year around 25 awards will be made across Scotland at a total cost of £1m. The scheme is intended to support those at early consultant level or equivalent and with limited research experience to date. Successful applicants will be expected to contribute to ongoing clinical research and conduct & lead their own projects, either funded by a non-commercial or industry partner.
DfT: Passengers using the busy West Coast Main Line are set to benefit from extra carriages & more seats from April 2012 Rail Minister Theresa Villiers has announced, after the Government signed an extension to Virgin Trains' existing contract to operate services on the line.
TfLPassengers using London Overground are set to benefit from an increase in services that will be introduced from December 2011. Trains on several routes across the network will run more frequently at peak times, evenings and weekends.
TfL: A set of poems, which commemorates lives lost in war & celebrates the universal desire for peace, is now on display on Tube trains.  The poems, which are part of the Poems on the Underground programme, also draw attention to the grief suffered by those who survived and will coincide with the sale of poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
MoD: Outstanding photography from Afghanistan & Army life has been recognised at the annual Army Photographic Competition. Army photographers deploy as soldiers with rifle & camera, taking the same risks as other infantrymen, but also giving the public a unique, up-close view of the realities of conflict.
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has launched a new national scheme that, for the first time, will allow social housing tenants wanting to swap their home to see every available property in the country‘HomeSwap Direct' will give tenants who want to move house - to be closer to a new job, their family, or to a property better suited to their needs - greater choice over potential swaps by allowing them to see a much wider selection of properties than ever before.
WAG: Young people across Wales are being urged to take part in a week long series of events to celebrate youth workYouth Work Week, which runs from 1 to 7 November, is an annual celebration of the role of youth workers & youth groups in Wales.
This year also sees the introduction of new awards to reward the most dedicated & talented youth workers in Wales. The Youth Work Wales Excellence Awards 2012 are a chance for youth workers, youth projects & young people involved in youth work to be recognised by the communities they serve. Nomination forms will be available from the 14 November on the Thanks Sam website.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

CO: Francis Maude recently launched a detailed plan for the implementation of the Government’s new ICT Strategy which is projected to deliver around £1.4bn of savings within the next 4 years and help deliver better public services digitally.

The Strategic Implementation Plan includes specific delivery dates for each aspect of the strategy and an overview of how the strategy will be implemented with further details for each of the 19 delivery areas.  It will be followed at the end of October by 4 sub-strategies which will detail the commitment being made on key elements of the ICT strategy, including Cloud Computing & ICT Capability.
ScotGov: Another 30 schools are expected to be built or refurbished as part of the next phase of the school buildings programme - 12 more than originally planned - First Minister Alex Salmond announced recently. This will see the total number of projects built under the £1.25bn 'Scottish Schools for the Future' programme rise to more than 60.
COI: The Government is investing £32m in psychological therapies, including talking therapies, for children & young people with mental health problems, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced recently.
Press releases & links
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has called on councils & housing associations across the country to help their tenants during this time of high energy prices by taking steps that could save each tenant up to £500 a year on energy bills and create thousands of jobs in their local communities.  

With the countdown to the Government's Green Deal initiative underway, the Minister urged social landlords to make a positive difference to their tenants' lives by using existing funding models to start their own 'Pay As You Save' scheme, making homes in their area warmer & more comfortable to live in, and at the same time cheaper to run. 
MoD: The Prime Minister has announced that the Army's Warrior infantry fighting vehicle will benefit from a £1bn upgrade. The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) will extend the vehicles’ service life to beyond 2040, ensuring that Warrior will continue to play an essential role in the future conduct of land operations.
WAG: A new International Education Programme (IEP) which will help young people in Wales learn lessons from across the world has been announced by Education Minister Leighton Andrews. The IEP aims to spread the knowledge & skills necessary for young people in Wales to actively contribute to a global society. 
Utilising a new grant, the 3-year programme will be focussed on areas of greatest impact on the learner.  Areas of activity which could be covered by the IEP include, international school linking; joint curriculum projects; language learning, international professional development, raising awareness of the Welsh language abroad, and skills development.  
DH: A major push forward in the implementation of a screening programme for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), which will save the lives of thousands of older men, has been launched.  This major roll out will cover 80% of the country, with screening available across the whole of England by the end of March 2013.  The NHS AAA screening programme, which started in 2009 for men aged 65, aims to prevent up to half of the 6,000 deaths every year.
BIS: The UK & China have agreed an action plan to strengthen their relationship on education cooperation. The action plan is intended to forge stronger links in higher education, vocational education & skills training, schools & language teaching.
Defra: The fight against air pollution and the serious health problems it causes has been given a major boost after an extra £2m to help councils reduce Nitrogen Dioxide emissions was announced by Environment Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach. 51 councils across England will receive funding for a range of projects designed to reduce serious levels of air pollution in our towns and cities. 
DfE: An independent review to strengthen the training, qualifications & career opportunities of people working in early education & childcare was launched last week. Children’s Minister Sarah Teather has asked Professor Cathy Nutbrown, an expert in early childhood education from the University of Sheffield, to lead the review.  The review will run until December 2011.
Professor Nutbrown has launched a call for evidence to hear from people working in the early years about the training and qualifications they think they need, and from employers, trainees, and parents.


ScotGov: Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has launched a consultation (closes on 13 January 2012) on plans to remove financial support for large-scale biomass electricity generators and increase it for tidal energy. The consultation on the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) (ROS) raises the possibility of a cap on the size of biomass plant which would receive support.  
Smaller, more efficient biomass projects would continue to receive support, but large-scale electricity only stations, above a certain generating capacity, would no longer be eligible for support under the ROS.  The consultation requests views on the level at which such a cap might be set.
WAG: Businessowners & interested parties are urged to take part (by 31 October2011) in a short questionnaire to help develop a business strategy to support micro-enterprises in Wales. The Task & Finish Group appointed by Business Minister Edwina Hart to advise on the development & implementation of a Micro-Business strategy for Wales is now gathering evidence.
HO: The public are being asked their views on whether to introduce a scheme for disclosing information about an individual’s history of domestic violence to a new partner. The consultation (closes on 13 January 2012) asks whether the protection of victims of domestic violence can be improved by the establishment of a national Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and if such a scheme could work in practice.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence has started a period of public consultation (closes on 17 February 2012) on the options for dismantling nuclear-powered submarines that have left service with the Royal Navy. These include those that are in afloat storage at Devonport & Rosyth dockyards.
EU News: Small businesses around Europe are being harmed by rogue traders who use unfair practices, such as misleading advertising. The fraudsters hide behind national borders and exploit the vulnerability of companies – especially the small ones – when doing business in other EU countries.

To better protect them, the EC is launching a public consultation (closes on 16 December 2011) to gather more information from companies & others affected on the nature & scale of the unfair practices, including online scams.  Following the consultation, the Commission will then assess how best to stop them.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE: Radiotherapy following breast-conserving surgery in breast cancer patients almost halves the risk of the cancer recurring, according to latest research published in the Lancet. The study says radiotherapy following breast-conserving surgery ‘not only substantially reduces the risk of recurrence but also moderately reduces the risk of death from breast cancer’. These findings tie in with recommendations for care in NICE's guideline on the diagnosis & treatment of early & locally advanced breast cancer.
ScotGov: Families, businesses & communities across Scotland are being encouraged to prepare for winter through a national public awareness campaign. The Scottish Government's 'Ready for Winter?' campaign is being delivered in partnership with the British Red Cross and a range of public, private & voluntary sector partners.
NICE: Patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) should have their blood glucose levels actively controlled if it is raised on admission to hospital, says NICE. Hyperglycaemia, an excess of glucose in the blood, is common among people admitted to hospital with a range of conditions encompassed by ACS, such as heart attack and unstable angina.
Patients with hyperglycaemia have a poorer chance of survival & increased complications while in hospital, regardless of whether they have diabetes. However, guidance published by NICE last week states that hyperglycaemia is not being considered as a risk factor for ACS, and frequently remains untreated.
ccWater: Consumers were being encouraged last week to think about their use of hot water in economic & environmental terms as part of the 15th Energy Savings Week (24-28 October).
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has launched new guidance on compulsory purchase orders for Local Authorities and an easy read guide for members of the public. The updated guidance follows consultation which shows some local authorities are uncertain about using compulsory purchase, and that there is also concern that authorities do not always engage properly with people affected.
NICE: GPs will be able to prescribe ticagrelor (Brilique), in combination with low-dose aspirin for up to 12 months, for patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS), following final guidance from NICE.
DfE: Only high quality, rigorous vocational qualifications will count in performance tables, and they will be included on a one-for-one basis with academic qualifications, under new guidance announced by the Department for Education
The new guidance lists the characteristics vocational qualifications need to be included in the headline measures of the school performance tables. This will stop schools picking subjects in order to boost performance table positions, rather than choosing the right qualifications for their pupils.

Annual Reports

DWP: The Government’s commitment to provide greater protection for the severely disabled is taking effect, with the latest figures revealing an increase in the number of people assessed for the higher rate of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).  However, the figures still show that the majority of people (38%) are being found fit for work.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published the report Long-Term Monitoring of Health Inequalities: Headline Indicators, October 2011.  This report represents the fourth in a series of annual updates of headline indicators of inequalities and has been published following a recommendation in the report of the Ministerial Task Force, Equally Well.
DH: New information on mortality rates in NHS hospitals has been published as part of plans to give patients and the public more transparent & robust information about their local NHS. The new Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) compares the actual number of patients who die following treatment at a trust with the number who would be expected to die, given the characteristics of the patients treated there.
For the first time, it considers all deaths that take place both in hospital and within 30 days of discharge, offering a more comprehensive picture of deaths following hospital care.
EU News: The European Union's system for quick exchange of information on risks linked to food & feed - an invaluable tool especially at times of crisis - has further grown in importance during 2010, the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) system's annual report reveals. 
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published the Scottish Policing Performance Framework Annual Report, 2010-11. The publication presents statistics on 37 performance indicators and 8 context indicators, giving, where available, data & trend analysis from 2007-08, the first year of the Scottish Policing Performance Framework (SPPF).
OfwatOfwat, the economic regulator of the water & sewerage sector, has reported in its 2010/11 ‘summary of performance’ report that although companies continue to deliver good levels of service to most consumers, there are still areas for concern.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its 53rd report of Session 2010-12, on the basis of evidence from the Department of Health. The report addresses issues regarding the management of high value NHS equipment.
ICI: John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, has published a thematic inspection report of how the UK Border Agency manages foreign national prisoners.

General Reports and Other Publications

CBI: Medium-sized businesses are the UK's ‘forgotten army’, too long overlooked by government, but with the potential to inject between £20bn & £50bn into the economy by 2020, according to the CBI. Firms with a turnover of between £10m & £100m represent less than 1% of businesses, but generate 22% of economic revenue and 16% of all jobs.
The CBI is calling for a broader range of finance to be made available to medium-sized businesses (MSBs).  With banks' lending constrained, these firms can no longer rely solely on bank lending for long-term growth capital to invest in their companies. Business owners & managers will be crucial to unlocking MSBs' true potential, and the CBI makes a series of recommendations for building their capabilities and inspiring them to strive for even greater growth.
ICO: Businesses may be ‘waking up’ to their obligations under the Data Protection Act (DPA) but public confidence in how personal information is being handled continues to decline, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said recently.
Less than half of individuals surveyed believe that organisations process their data in a fair & proper manner.   In addition, the number of data security breaches in the private sector continues to rise – 58% more breaches have been reported to the ICO so far in 2011/12 than in the same period last year.
CBI: A lack of hub airport capacity could cost the economy up to £1.2bn a year in lost trade and must be tackled if the UK is to maintain its global competitiveness, the CBI said recently. In its response to the Government's consultation - Developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation - the UK's leading business group says that having an international airport hub is vital to the economy, and that the Government's plan must address the issue of capacity in South East England.
NAO: The implementation of a project to create a centre to streamline back-office functions for the 7 research councils has so far not been good value for money and there is a risk that the councils may not recover their investment.  When finally operational 15 months late, the Centre was delivering services across the five functions planned but some services, particularly finance, are not yet where they need to be.

The aim of the Shared Service Centre was to share services, such as finance, HR and procurement, in order to make savings. By the end of March 2011 the project was £51m over budget. The councils have not monitored benefits effectively, resulting in a lack of clarity about the savings delivered.
IFS: New figures have been released estimating that total public spending on education in the UK will fall by over 13% in real terms between 2010–11 & 2014–15. This represents the largest cut in education spending over any 4-year period since at least the 1950s.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published a Scottish Health Survey topic report on obesity.  The report has 2 distinct parts. The first examines the different ways of measuring overweight & obesity and recommends the most appropriate measures to use. The second looks at the associations between various factors and prevalence of overweight and obesity.
WWFWWF and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) have confirmed the extinction of the Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) in Vietnam.  The findings, presented in a new WWF report, also point to poaching as the likely cause of the death, as the rhino, which was found shortly after the survey was completed, had a bullet in its leg and its horn had been removed.
IPPR: New analysis by think tank IPPR, using an econometric model to predict the impact of the shift to green cars, shows that fuel duty revenues (more than 2% of GDP in 2010) will more than halve in real terms by 2030 – by at least £10bn.  As well as depriving the Government of much-needed revenue, such a shift in the costs of motoring could harm growth as it will lead to greater congestion.
The report shows that declining North Sea oil reserves will lead to increased oil imports unless the UK decarbonises its road transport sector. The report argues that the Government should build on the forthcoming road-user charging scheme for HGVs by piloting revenue neutral ‘pay-as-you-go’ driving schemes after 2015.
WWF: A new report by WWF has said that renewable sources of energy could meet between 60-90% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2030 and recommends that the government sets its target at no less than 60% for renewable energy generation to provide certainty for investors. 

The report, Positive Energy, found that with a strong focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency, it is possible to largely ‘decarbonise’ the
power sector and maintain system security, without resorting to new nuclear power.
Press release & links
PC&PE: The Government must start thinking strategically about energy security to ‘protect the UK's energy supply against short-term shocks and rising global energy prices’, according to a report by MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee.
Gas storage capacity needs to be increased in the UK to minimise the potential damage from supply interruptions or price spikes, the report argues.  It reveals that the UK's current storage capacity  amounts to only 14 days worth of gas supply - a dangerously low level compared with France which has 87 days worth of gas storage, Germany 69 and Italy 59.
PC&PE: ‘The PM should promise to attend the Rio + 20 Earth Summit to show leadership on sustainability and strengthen global political will to tackle the environmental crisis,’ say MPs on the Commons Environmental Audit Committee in a report published on last week.
The forthcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 – 'Rio+20' – will take place 20 years after the pivotal Earth Summit there.  It will focus on the 'green economy' and the relevant UN institutions.
Demos: The government should stop measuring the number of 16-24 year olds Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) according to a report published by the think tank Demos.  The term NEET gives an unhelpful & inaccurate picture of young people’s circumstances and adds to social stigma, ‘smothering’ the problem of youth unemployment and hindering the development of effective, targeted policy, the report warns.
The 979,000 young people who were NEET in the second quarter of 2011 included ‘gap year students, stay-at-home parents, prisoners and university graduates’, many of whom do not need specially targeted support in terms of education & training.  The think tank warns that moral panic over NEETs is obscuring the specific difficulties young people are experiencing in preparing for and entering the jobs market.
TUC: The gap between the rhetoric & reality of the government's public service reforms is growing, as privatisation & workforce opposition to the changes increases, says a new TUC paper (VLF 13Mb). In response to the government's Open Public Services white paper, the TUC highlights how a market-led approach to reform is increasing the private sector takeover of public services, and how public sector workers are increasingly turning against the measures.
HSE: Britain's safety watchdog is challenging the construction industry to learn from the London 2012 construction project and improve the safety record of one of the most dangerous occupations in Britain. 

The Health and Safety Executive's Leadership and worker involvement on the Olympic Park research shows how the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) adopted an inclusive ‘no scapegoating’ approach to managing risks that could be adapted to any project - irrespective of its size or budget.  It is the first in a series of research reports that HSE will publish as part of the London 2012 Learning Legacy.
ESRCParents who joke & pretend with their toddlers are giving their children a head start in terms of life skills.  Most parents are naturals at playing the fool with their kids, says a new research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  However parents who feel they may need a little help in doing this can learn to develop these life skills with their tots.
NAO: The Comptroller & Auditor General, Amyas Morse, has qualified the 2010-11 accountsof the Legal Services Commission because of overpayments made by it to legal aid providers, estimated at almost £51m.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has published its full investigation report into Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRT). The investigation into quality of care at the King George and Queen’s Hospital sites, which began in early July, identifies serious problems and places requirements on the trust to deliver fundamental and wide-ranging improvements.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has published its response to government proposals to reform the way higher education is regulated.

Legislation / Legal

OFT: The OFT has referred the market for the supply of statutory audit services to large companies in the UK to the Competition Commission (CC) for further investigation. In 2010, the 4 largest firms (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young) earned 99% of audit fees paid by FTSE 100 companies.  Between 2002 & 2010, the average annual switching rate among FTSE 100 companies was only 2.3%.
WAG: From Monday 31 October 2011 the introduction of The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011 will require the competent supervision of sunbed use in all sunbed businesses in Wales. The move follows a ban on sunbed businesses from allowing the use of or access to, sunbeds on their premises by under-18s.
ScotGov: Plans that modernise for the 21st century the functions of the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and support its work in bringing the nation's history and culture to life were published last week.   The National Library of Scotland Bill is aimed at modernising the governance arrangements for the institution and strengthening its role in safeguarding and sharing its collections.
WAG: A landmark judgment has been handed down by the Supreme Court raising ‘A matter of great constitutional importance’. The ruling in the case of AXA v Lord Advocate recognised the primary status of legislation passed by a devolved Government – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The Energy Community has celebrated its fifth anniversary.  Established to increase socio-economic stability & security of supply, it has set a good example of regional cooperation in which the EU and the South-Eastern European countries can diversify their energy sources.  
It has created a functioning institutional framework and more legal certainty for investors. Next steps are to enhance market reforms and to boost investments in the energy sector.  The final objective is that the regional market should be fully integrated in the European's internal energy market.
EU News: A unique debate on the future financing of the EuropeanUnion has been held in Brussels. The debate focused on 3 topics: the future of EU ‘own resources’, spending priorities for the future and how to get maximum value from every euro spent from the EU budget. The conference was prompted by legislative proposals for the EU's new ‘own resources' and the multi-annual framework (MFF), as tabled by the European Commission on 29 June.
MEPs & MPs from several national parliaments agreed on the need to overhaul the current system of resources for the EU budget, but differed on how to proceed. The Commission proposal to introduce new EU own income resources such as a financial transactions tax (FTT) and a new VAT system, was generally welcomed, although many speakers raised doubts on how the proposal could be put into practice.
EU News: EU rules on public procurement contracts should be reformed to make it easier for small firms to bid for them, said Parliament in a vote last Tuesday. This includes enabling authorities to award contracts not just to the lowest bidder, but to the most innovative, or to those offering the greatest environmental or social benefits.  The Commission is to table reform proposals in December 2011.
EU News: A responsible approach to business means more (and more sustainable) economic growth. This is why the European Commission has presented a package of measures to support entrepreneurship and responsible business.
EU News: The likelihood of a major offshore accident in European waters remains unacceptably high. With a stringent safety regime it is possible to bring the risk of such an accident down to the absolute minimum.  Damage done to the environment and coastal economies can be significantly reduced if an effective emergency response plan is put in place beforehand.  This is why the European Commission last week proposed a new law which will ensure that European offshore oil & gas production will respect the world's highest safety, health and environmental standards everywhere in the EU.
EU News: Last week the European Parliament approved the Commission's proposal to amend the Qualification Directive which will enhance the rights granted to refugees & beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in the EU.  The Directive guarantees uniform rights when it comes to health care and access to the labour market.   The vote allows for a first reading agreement with the Council which now needs to formally adopt the modified Directive.  This will happen in the coming weeks.
EU News: Small businesses around Europe are being harmed by rogue traders who use unfair practices, such as misleading advertising. The fraudsters hide behind national borders and exploit the vulnerability of companies (especially the small ones) when doing business in other EU countries – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BHF: A cardiologist in Canada has claimed people can expect to live an additional 40 or 50 years after the age of 50 if they follow 7 simple steps.
PT: Senior Citi executives have run an Enterprise workshop for young entrepreneurs, in support of the Prince's Trust
DfE: A recent announcement sees the creation of a new Communities and Families Fund which will receive £1.5m a year for the next 3 years to assist local childcare and family support work.
Directgov: If you get the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), it is now easier to get your free vehicle tax.  You’ll now be given a reusable Certificate of Entitlement to DLA, rather than having to get a new one each year.
BIG: A funding lifeline of at least £50m to support hundreds of vital Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) projects & services in England was announced last week by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).  The full impact on the VCS of cutbacks is still to come according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) which estimates that voluntary & community groups will face a reduction in public funding of over £900m by 2016, losing a total of £2.8bn in that period.
As part of the funding package, BIG has made £17m available to fund an additional 650 charitable & community projects through its 2 main open grants programmes, Reaching Communities and Awards for All.  Over the next few months, BIG will also be offering grants of up to £10,000 to close to 1,000 existing BIG grant holders in the last 18 months of their projects to review the way they work and explore ways of becoming more sustainable.
nef: Last week, nef launched the first Centre for Excellence on Social Return on Investment (SROI). This new venture will lead to the first comprehensive, consistent approach to valuing an individual’s wellbeing.  It aims to further understanding of value for money in a way which includes social & environmental outcomes.
The Centre comprises 3 key pillars:
* The development of a common currency for well-being economics
* Communities of practise – online learning forums to advance the methodology & share experiences
* Masterclasses on SROI methodology, the building blocks of a new approach to valuation
DH: A new charity has been established by the Department of Health to provide financial assistance for those people who were infected with hepatitis C before September 1991, as a result of NHS treatment by blood transfusions or blood products. The establishment of the Caxton Foundation is part of a package of improved support announced in January 2011.
STFC: Communities across England will have a twinkle in their eye and get a big environmental & educational boost thanks to Dark Sky Discovery – a pioneering new national & regional partnership of astronomy & environmental organisations led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council
A £176.8k grant, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and awarded through Natural England’s Access to Nature programme, will support a 2-year programme to inspire people of all ages & backgrounds to come together in their local area and enjoy the night sky in a radically new way.

Business and Other Briefings

HO: In June 2011, the Home Office announced that they would be publishing a list of financial institutions which they consider, on the basis of experience, do not verify financial statements to their satisfaction. Last week they published an initial list of financial institutions that fall under this category.
ScotGov: A new website will make it easier for Scottish companies to bid for work in the public sector. Supplier Journey will guide businesses through the process of applying for contracts, making the system more streamlined & easier to understand – See ‘In the News’ for more information.
This Brief reminds caravan site owners and their customers about the forthcoming withdrawal of three Extra Statutory Concessions relating to caravan sites.  It also clarifies the effect of timing of invoices and payments on whether the concessions apply.

Industry News

ScotGov: An £18m fund will help develop Scotland's first commercial wave and tidal power arrays. The money forms part of £35m the Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies will provide in direct support to the marine & tidal industry over the next 3 years.
DCMS: Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey recently urged West Midlands business leaders to invest in the creative industries as part of ambitious plans to boost the economy of Greater Birmingham & Solihull. The CreativeCity initiative, led by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, aims to stimulate investment by:
* Creating a fund to build on existing public sector funding of the arts through loans, grants, match-funding and investments
* Outlining the vision for a new ‘museum quarter’, including a new museum of photography and the development of a new contemporary art gallery.
* Exploring ways to unlock private sector & philanthropic support for culture, linking cultural development to wider economic growth.

Forthcoming Event

ACE: 25 poets from across the world are due to converge on Suffolk for the 23rd annual Aldeburgh Poetry Festival from 4 - 6 November 2011 The Festival is the annual showcase of Arts Council England regularly from . The Festival is the annual showcase of regularly funded organisation The Poetry Trust's year-round programme.
ACE: A series of events happening in the region over the coming months invite creative organisations to explore the possibilities that digital technology offers arts & cultureCreative Front Cambridgeshire is leading a programme of events entitled Culture Hack East, to support cultural organisations in the East to maximise their assets, data and new technologies to excite and develop audiences online.

The idea is that by learning lessons from the culture of hacking, organisations can start create innovative ways of bringing great art into people's everyday lives.  The programme starts with an Arts & Culture Kick Off event on 8 November 2011, from 4.30-9pm at The Junction, Cambridge and is followed by the Culture Hack East Day happening in February 2012.
ESRC: The British appetite for zombies is becoming a growing trend.  From computer games & films to organised zombie walks though Britain’s cities, the proliferation of zombies seems to be everywhere.  Yet, this high interest in zombies enables researchers to link zombie-like behaviours to current models of public attitudes & actionsCan Zombies help us understand today's society? - 2 November 2011 19.00 Venue: Literary & Philosophical Society, Newcastle
SE: Senior figures from local authorities, leisure operators & Sport England are coming together to show that community sport programmes do not need to suffer as a result of pressure on council budgets.  A series of seminars run by Sport England are showing how strategic solutions to leisure facility provision can save up to 30% from revenue & capital costs without compromising services.

Among the case studies will be Elmbridge Borough Council, which is saving £6m from its revenue budget over 15 years thanks to its decision to replace two ageing leisure facilities with a new, state-of-the-art wet & dry leisure centre. This has led to a huge increase in the number of local people playing sport at the facility.
The seminars will also see the launch of ‘Affordable 25m Community Pools’, a new Sport England/ASA guide to low-cost capital & operational solutions for swimming.

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