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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

EHRCAnother care time bomb ticking away and the clock is about to go silent - The Equality and Human Rights Commission's inquiry into the home care system in England ‘reveals disturbing evidence that the poor treatment of many older people is breaching their human rights and too many are struggling to voice their concerns about their care or be listened to about what kind of support they want’.

The final report of the Commission’s inquiry, 'Close to home: older people and human rights in home care', says hundreds of thousands of older people lack protection under the Human Rights Act and calls for this legal loophole to be closed.  It questions commissioning practices that ‘focus on a rigid list of tasks, rather than what older people actually want, and that give more weight to cost than to an acceptable quality of care’.

Around half of the older people, friends and family members who gave evidence to the inquiry expressed real satisfaction with their home care.  But the inquiry also revealed many examples of older people’s human rights being breached, including physical or financial abuse, disregarding their privacy & dignity, failing to support them with eating or drinking, treating them as if they were invisible, and paying little attention to what they want.
Press release ~ EHRC inquiry into the home care system ~ Mapping Long-Term Care Markets ~ AUK: PCTs must reveal spending on carers ~ AUK: Paying for care and support at home ~ Related CQC PR ~ Related UKHCA PR ~ 20 action points to help homecare workers promote human rights ~ Dilnot social care report launch ~ DH: New Approaches to Supporting Carers’ Health and Well-being ~ Safeguarding adults: report on the consultation on the review of No Secrets ~ No secrets: guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse ~ DH: Vulnerable Adults ~ General Social Care Council ~ BMA toolkit to help doctors protect vulnerable adults ~ Government to seek legislation to protect society’s most vulnerable people ~ DH: New Guidance to Improve Care for Vulnerable Patients ~ Safeguarding Adults: The role of health services ~ Research on safeguarding adults by SCIE ~ New approach to quality and outcomes in social care ~ The Government response to Law Commission consultation paper 192. Review of the law on adult social care ~ The King’s Fund: Home care ~ DH:  We need a system that ‘protects them from public sector bean counters’ (first item) ~ Newswire – LGA:  A cheaper (but effective alternative) to personal care (second item)

MoD:  Out of horror & sadness comes some good - A recent 2-part TV series (still available on BBC i-player) about front line medicine looked at how UK military medics in Afghanistan have achieved the highest survival rate of casualties in the history of warfare.

It looks at how war accelerates medical research, how the current conflict in Afghanistan is contributing to the future of medicine and how these developments enhance medical care.
Press release & links ~ BBC2 Frontline Medicine ~ Female medics honoured for work with injured personnel ~ £20m to bring breakthroughs from battlefield to bedside ~ NHS Choices: Emergency care on the battlefield ~ New NHS & military trauma centre opens (see also ‘Related links’) ~ Defence trauma and rehabilitation services – ‘exemplary’ ~ Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham ~ Civilian Trauma Care And The Defence Medical Services - A Prospectus For Partnership?New Life Saving Equipment for Fronline Medics ~ PM ltd: EnFlowTM 100 Rapid Blood and Fluid Warmer ~ Portable oxygen generator ~ Defence Medical Services ~ Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) ~ NAO: MoD – Treating injury and illness arising from military operation ~ A review of the clinical governance of the Defence Medical Services in the UK and overseas ~ New blood storage containers to help military medics save lives ~ RFA Argus ~ 202 (Midlands) Field Hospital ~ MoD: Unless one has faced the dangers of bullets & IEDs, it is difficult to ‘understand’ (Second item) ~ Battlefield Medicine, Afghanistan 2011

HOIt seems a lifetime since the summer riots - The government has set out the start of crucial work to tackle gang & youth violence through prevention and tough punishment.  Young people at risk of being drawn into gangs and violence will be targeted at every stage of their lives – from toddlers to teenagers – to prevent the next generation of gang members.
DH:  If not equal wealth at least equal health - A new UCL (University College London) Institute that aims to reduce health inequalities through action on the social determinants has been launched by the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and Professor Sir Michael Marmot.
HPCLet’s face it, individual ‘shareholders’ have no power over pay - The High Pay Commission has published its final report, Cheques with Balances: Why tackling high pay is in the national interest, shows stratospheric pay increases which have seen wealth flow upwards to the top 0.1% away from average workers. It sets out a 12-point plan based on transparency, accountability & fairness to halt spiralling high pay that is creating inequalities last seen in the Victorian era.
DWPSometimes it is the only defence against a bullying manager - An independent review aimed at reducing the cost of sickness to employers, taxpayers and the economy is presented to the Government recently by health & business experts.
OfstedSometimes a ‘Place of Safety’ isn’t - With many countries around the world having celebrated Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, Ofsted explains how the Children's Rights Director for England, Dr Roger Morgan, is ensuring that some of our most vulnerable children & young people are being given a voice.
CSPLBetter yet, why not limit party expenditure to £1m a year each (double for election year) - The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life recently published its report recommending fundamental change in the regulation of the funding of political parties and challenged the party leaders to work together to clean up party funding. They have recommended that the majority of the new arrangements should not come into effect until the beginning of the next Parliament, expected to be in 2015.
STFCGive me warp drive Scotty - New results from the OPERA collaboration based at the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy support earlier experiments that suggested that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light.
Press release & links

Case Study: Land Registry: Successful Outplacement of 1800 Employees - In 2009, with an urgent need to achieve savings, Land Registry implemented its Accelerated Transformation Programme (ATP) in order to reduce the number of offices and staff whilst improving efficiencies across the organisation. Under the plans of the ATP, coupled with a shrinking housing market, economic recession and government targets to reduce public sector spending, a change management programme was initiated which included the outplacement of up to 1,800 of their employees. The Land Registry has recently been shortlisted for a Civil Service Award under the category of ‘Supporting staff through change’.

Click here to receive the Land Registry case study and find out more about a forthcoming webinar on 'Best Practices in Restructuring and Handling Redundancies', a highly topical subject in today’s public sector. The panel of experts will include David Evans, Director of HR for HM Land Registry who will share details of the Land Registry’s recent Accelerated Transformation Project, the objectives and design of HR Support, working with providers and lessons learned.

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

General News

DECCEnergy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker is calling on pensioners and those on low incomes to make sure they’ve claimed for the help to which they’re entitled to keep warm this winter.
UNITE: Greater enforcement against the ‘long hours’ culture endured by Britain’s 300,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers should become a government priority, Unite, the union, has urged.  
MoD: Six Royal Marines Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) from the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone have raised £10,000 for Children in Need by completing the tests required to don the coveted green beret in just 24 hours (normally spread over 5 days), 'to prove it could be done'.
TUCThe TUC called for an end to violence & discrimination against transgender people on Transgender Day of Remembrance (20 November). The Day commemorates trans people who have been the victims of violent crimes and aims to bring their stories to public attention.
FSABleiker’s is recalling one batch of its Traditional Oak Smoked Scottish Salmon because one pack in this small batch has been found to contain listeria. The batch number is ‘55x’ with a ‘use by’ date of 23 November 2011.  If you have bought the product being recalled, do not eat it.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has issued a Food Alert for Action warning consumers not to drink an illegal brand of vodka called Drop Vodka, which has been found on sale in some shops.  Consumers are advised not to drink the vodka because it is not registered by any company in the UK and could be harmful.
Press release & links
TfL: Passengers using the Central line will soon begin to benefit from a rejuvenation of their carriages.
DH: Care Services Minister Paul Burstow has welcomed the Care Quality Commission’s announcement that it would carry out a programme of inspections of 250 providers of home care services.
HMRC: A new specialist unit targeting offshore tax cheats has been launched by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The Offshore Co-Ordination Unit (OCU) brings together a team of highly-skilled offshore analysts, technical tax experts & experienced investigators.
HOThe process of background checking more than 380,000 Games time workers, athletes & officials ahead of next summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games has begun. All athletes, officials, workers & media who require access to Olympic and Paralympic venues in the summer of 2012 will be accredited.
MoDDefender, the Navy's fifth state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyer, has successfully completed her first set of sea trials, with her speed, manoeuvrability, sensors and weapons having been tested over 3 weeks off Scotland.
Press release & links
IPCCThe IPCC believes the headline on an article published in The Guardian in connection with the investigation into the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan is ‘misleading, speculative and wholly irresponsible’.
ScotGov3 Scottish social landlords have been awarded a share of a bumper fund to install more efficient heating systems for their tenants.
EHThe past archaeological lives of the St Paul's Cathedral site have been revealed in a new English Heritage book.
CQCThe Care Quality Commission (CQC) is to carry out a themed inspection programme of home care services. The programme will help the regulator develop new ways to ensure these services meet the essential standards people have a right to expect and that people are being treated with dignity and respect.
DCMS: Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has welcomed a partnership between the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Museum of London to educate schoolchildren. The bank’s Global Banking and Markets (GBM) arm is supporting the museum’s Learning Programme and will allow it continue into 2013. The programme is expected to reach more than 100,000 schoolchildren a year
PCSMinisters' misleading claims that their proposals for public sector pensions will mean better retirement packages for some have been exposed by PCS union using the government's own figures.
Ofgem: Ian Marlee, Ofgem’s Partner for Markets said last week: “Ofgem welcomes British Gas’s recognition that suppliers need an open and honest dialogue with their customers. …..   “We will be examining British Gas’ proposals to see how far they meet our objectives to simplify tariffs, but we see a real advantage for consumers in a consistent, enforceable approach to reform and Ofgem is determined to deliver this.”
RoSPA: Organisations wishing to participate in the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards 2012 have less than a week left to register for entry.  Registration closes on 1 December 2011.

Organisations that meet this deadline will then have until 01 February 2012 to submit their full entries on RoSPA Awards USB keys.
Press release & links
DCMS: A website designed to allow people to tell Government & businesses how to make the internet more accessible has been launched by Communications Minister Ed Vaizey. The eAccessibility Forum website offers people using & working on the internet the opportunity to discuss difficulties they have noticed in accessing websites and other online services and to promote best practice.
The site will help the Forum, which is a broad coalition of Government, charity & private sector organisations, develop & share ways to improve online accessibility.  It will also inform the Forum's eAccessibility Action Plan.
DH: From September 2012, a different vaccine will be used in the HPV vaccination programme, the Department of Health has announced. Following a competitive tendering exercise, Gardasil, supplied by Sanofi Pasteur MSD, will be the vaccine used in the next school year. Gardasil protects against the 2 types of HPV virus that cause more than 70% of cervical cancer in England and 2 types of HPV virus that cause 90% of genital warts.
WAGTraffic Wales, the Welsh Government's traffic management & information service, has launched a new look, easy to use, website that will provide up-to-the minute information to motorists looking to plan their journeys. The revamped bilingual website - which will be refreshed & updated with key information - will include a number of new features to help drivers make travel decisions in an informed & less stressful way.
Traffic Wales makes this information available to both the public & the media to help advise of any incidents or events that may cause problems for a journey on our roads. The improved website will play a key part in this role.
Press release & links
HOBudding designers have been asked to create an emblem to help sports clubs, fans and players mark their support for the government's campaign to kick homophobia and transphobia out of sport. The logo competition (closes on Wednesday 18 January 2012) is targeted at young people, but is open to anyone with creative flair. 

Applicants have been asked to come up with a design that conveys a message of inclusion & respect in sport.
) is targeted at young people, but is open to anyone with creative flair.  Applicants have been asked to come up with a design that conveys a message of inclusion & respect in sport.
DECC: The world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will be open to applicants from Monday 28 November 2011, providing payments for heat generated from renewable technologies including biomass boilers, solar thermal equipment and heat pumps installed since 15 July 2009. 
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has published full details of how the Government's proposals for changes to teaching funding & student number controls will be implemented in 2012-13.
WWF: WWF recently welcomed the Government’s announcement that £200m will be used as an incentive to launch the Green Deal.  The funds could mean that potentially 1m households would benefit from £200 to help improve the energy efficiency of their home.
The Government has not yet released details about what mechanism will be used to provide the funds to homeowners - whether this is through council tax rebates, stamp duty rebates or a version of the ‘boiler- scrappage’ scheme.
MoD: The Service personnel who will take part in the British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012 have recently completed their final mission rehearsal exercise in the Ecrins National Park region of the French Alps.
The first ever joint Services expedition to the mainland of Antarctica will begin on 27 December 2011 and last for just over 2 months.
Press release & links

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DCLGHousing Minister, Grant Shapps, recently called on councils to give the dreams & aspirations of prospective adoptive parents & foster carers a helping hand, and cut through red tape hindering adoptions and fostering.

Forthcoming guidance will make clear that councils will be expected to consider how their actions could help people in their area who are looking to adopt or foster a child in need of a stable, loving family.
HO: The Home Office is due to publish quarterly reports detailing the penalties given to people or organisations who employ illegal workers.
HMTGraham Aaronson QC has set out his recommendation to the Government for the introduction to the UK tax system of a narrowly focused general anti-abuse rule (GAAR). The recommendation is published in the final report of Mr Aaronson’s 11 month review of the feasibility for the UK tax system of a GAAR.
CO: The Cabinet Office is due to unveil a package of measures that will revolutionise how the Government buys from the private sector.
EA: Communities in parts of England can for the first time see how erosion could affect their coastline in future, in a pilot series of online maps.
WAG: The Deputy Minister for Children & Social Services has announced a £55m expansion of the Flying Start programme to double the number of children who will benefit from it. The programme is designed to help families with young children living in disadvantaged areas.
HMT: The Government has imposed tough new financial restrictions against Iran which cut off all financial ties with Iranian banks. This follows the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest report on Iran, which highlights fresh concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme.
DCLG: An ambitious new strategy to tackle the housing shortage, boost the economy, create jobs and give people the opportunity to get on the housing ladder has been announced by the PM and the Deputy PM.
HO: Exactly one year before Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) take office, the Policing Minister has called for all dynamic & driven individuals to come forward as candidates.
DfTPlans to ‘modernise’ the Coastguard have been confirmed by Shipping Minister Mike Penning. The proposals, which were announced for consultation in July, will ‘make the Coastguard better coordinated, more resilient to the challenges of the future and will increase the number of regular coastguard officers working in coastal communities, who provide leadership and support to the volunteers of the Coastguard Rescue Service’.
BISThe second phase of the Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF) has been launched. The fund will support businesses to develop their skills solutions tailored to their own needs, transforming growth in their sector, region or supply chain.
BIS will be providing £34m for 2012-13 and there is still £29m available to bid for.  With matched funding from businesses there will be around £60m available under GIF this year. Comparable levels of investment are planned for the following two years.
BIS: The ‘most radical reform to the employment law system for decades’ was outlined last week by Business Secretary Vince Cable as part of the Government’s plan for growth, cutting unnecessary demands on business while safeguarding workers’ rights.
WAG: Finance Minister Jane Hutt has outlined how the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan would help to provide stability to the construction industry in Wales and announced how almost £90m of centrally retained capital funding would be spent on projects across Wales.
DEFRAThe UK Government will support an initiative to build Sustainable Development Goals, which will focus international attention on the need to sustainably manage the world’s natural resources.
CLG: New flexible tenancies will help end long-held prejudices about social housing and ensure it once again becomes a springboard for success, Housing Minister Grant Shapps said last week. Instructions published last week by the Minister will ensure that councils & housing associations will, for the first time, have genuine freedom to ensure that more people benefit from social housing.

Starting in 2012, new tenants will now get the helping hand they need for as long as they need it, rather than a single option of a home for life, ensuring more social homes are available to people who need them.
DfE: A new action plan published last week calls on all local areas to take urgent action to stop the sexual exploitation of children & young people. Children's Minister Tim Loughton warned of failure by local agencies to recognise & deal with the problem of child sexual exploitation in many areas of the country.
ScotGov: Further wide-ranging action to tackle the root causes of sectarianism, through community initiatives & education, will be brought forward over the 5-year parliamentary term - backed by investment of £3m a year over the next 3 years, Minister for Community Safety Roseanna Cunningham said last week.
HMT: Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has announced that from March 2012 motorists in remote island communities will benefit from a ‘5p a litre fuel discount’.  

The announcement came after the Government received final EU clearance to operate its rural fuel rebate pilot scheme in the Inner & Outer Hebrides, Northern Isles, islands in the Clyde and the Isles of Scilly. The scheme will bring much needed relief to remote islands, where pump prices are particularly high due to transportation costs.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, has recently offered her support for International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (White Ribbon Day).  An international campaign, 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence, will culminate in Human Rights Day on 10 December 2011. 

The Secretary of State will sign the White Ribbon Campaign’s pledge, ‘promising never to commit, condone, or remain silent about men’s violence against women in all its forms’.
The Secretary of State also offered her support for male victims of domestic violence, saying: “I would also like to extend my support for male victims of domestic violence whose plight can often slip into the shadows and go unheard.   ……. it is crucial that we also recognise that women can also be perpetrators of physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse”. 


HO:  Victims, charities, the police & public are to be asked their views on how we can protect victims of stalking more effectively, Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone announced recently.  The consultation (closes on 5 February 2012) on stalking will look at various areas including legislation, training & guidance, and whether a specific offence of stalking is needed.  
Press release & links

BCE:  A week to go!  The Boundary Commission for England approaches its public consultation deadline of 5 December 2011 as it marks the end of a landmark series of 36 hearings around the country. 
Press release & links ~ Consultation

WAG:  Environment Minister, John Griffiths, is urging housing associations, local authorities, registered social landlords, community groups and businesses in to respond to the UK Government’s consultation on feed-in tariffs for solar PV (closes 23 Dec 2011
Press release & links ~ Consultation 

DECC:  A consultation on the Green Deal (closes on 18 January 2012), which will provide home energy saving upgrades to householders at no upfront cost, was published as part of the Energy and Climate Change Secretary’s Annual Energy Statement to Parliament

He also published a new government analysis showing that homes will on average be cheaper to heat & light in future than if the Government was not pursuing policies to keep the lights on and emissions down.

Press release & links

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

FSCS: Following the Chancellor’s announcement that Northern Rock is being sold to Virgin Money (on 1 January 2012), the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is issuing guidance to those savers who currently have money with both institutions.
FSAThe Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a new campaign reminding people to wash raw vegetables to help minimise the risk of food poisoning. The campaign is in response to E.coli outbreaks in Britain & abroad this year including one linked to soil on raw vegetables and another caused by contaminated sprouted seeds.
WAG: A new parent’s guide to explain exactly how school banding will work in Wales has been published by the Welsh Government. The handy leaflet will be sent to all secondary schools in Wales in the coming weeks before details on secondary school banding are published by the Welsh Government.
OFT: The OFT has published guidance which sets out the standards it expects from credit brokers and intermediaries. The guidance sets out the OFT's view on unfair practices relating to advertising & sales, refunds of fees and complaints handling.  It also outlines the responsibilities of businesses that use the services of credit brokers & intermediaries.
NICE: The majority of women who give birth will have a normal vaginal delivery.  But for certain groups of women, such as those who are HIV positive and those who have had a previous birth by caesarean section, the current advice has been to opt for a caesarean section instead of a vaginal birth. 

NICE's updated guidelines on caesarean section, published recently, now recommend that women in these groups should be offered a vaginal birth.
NICEPsychological interventions should be offered to people who self-harm to help them overcome their behavioural problems, latest NICE guidance suggests. Healthcare professionals should offer 3 - 12 sessions of a psychological intervention that is specifically structured for people who self-harm. 

The intervention should aim to reduce self-harm and should be tailored to individual need and could include cognitive-behavioural, psychodynamic or problem-solving elements.

Annual Reports

ScotGov: The health service's counter fraud team has saved NHS Scotland £43m gross since 2000.
DH: Official figures from the Office of National Statistics demonstrate the deadly impact that cold weather can have, especially on older people during winter. Last year, there were an estimated 25,700 excess deaths mostly linked to circulatory and respiratory diseases.
ACBA: The independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments has published its annual report for 2010-11.
DfESchools Minister Nick Gibb has welcomed the broad findings of Raising Ambition and Tackling Failure - The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2010/11.
WWFA UN report showing that global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are way off track underlines the need for world leaders to make real progress at the forthcoming global climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, WWF has said.
CO: 90% of servants are interested in their work and more than 75% work with their team to find ways to improve the service they provide, according to the results of the 2011 Civil Service People Survey.
EHRC: New figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the gender pay gap has narrowed for full time workers in the UK.
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Statistician has published Scottish House Condition Survey: Key Findings 2010 as well as the SHCS Local Authority Report 2008-10:
* The Key Findings Report includes key statistics on the condition of Scottish homes, the number of households living in fuel poverty, the number of dwellings failing the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS), the energy efficiency of dwellings and other key descriptors of the occupied housing stock in Scotland.
* The Local Authority Report contains similar figures but at local authority level covering the 3 year survey period 2008-2010.

General Reports and Other Publications

IfG: With 12 months to go, political parties and government bodies need to urgently address key challenges to ensure the election of the 41 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are a success.
CBI: A major new report, Winning overseas: boosting business export performance, urges the Government to set out a clear exports strategy with ambitious, achievable performance targets.
IISS: A report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies highlights how clashes between protesters and security forces in Kuwait have intensified the tense political stand-off

As the Emir orders authorities to take all necessary measures to secure the country, opposition MPs have said that they will oppose any attempt to establish a police state or undermine the country’s democracy.
IISSComment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies on a recent speech by British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, which set out how the work of Britain's intelligence agencies contributes to wider policymaking.

This followed October's Green Paper on Justice and Security, which is intended to identify ways for safely using secret intelligence in civil litigation and coroners' inquests; and to revise existing mechanisms for the democratic oversight of the intelligence agencies.
FSAThe Food Standards Agency has published the results of a survey looking at levels of mycotoxins in food.  Mycotoxins are chemicals produced by certain moulds.
CEBR: The Centre for Economics and Business Research’s (Cebr’s) report, ‘The 50p tax - good intentions, bad outcomes’, examines how the revenue maximising rate of Income Tax has changed since the 1980s.
DHA recent major international study shows that NHS is performing well for patients in many areas including some aspects of mental health care, vaccinations & preventative care, such as the number of unplanned hospital admissions for people with diabetes.
BHFA new study has highlighted the long-term benefits & safety of cholesterol-busting statins. The research involved an 11-year follow-up study on people taking statins and showed that the drug was safe, with no increase in cancer cases or deaths from other, non heart-related causes.
NIASpending on criminal legal aid has spiralled out of control over the last 10 years with no comparable increase in the number of cases dealt with. That’s the stark message from the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee which recently published its report entitled Managing Criminal Legal Aid.
TUCMaking public sector pensions like those in the private sector would mean taking all pensions away from 2 in 3 public sector workers and giving a huge increase to the pension pots of a small number of senior public sector staff, says a new TUC report.
Private sector workers with no pension should be livid that they see none of the nearly £30bn spent on tax relief on pensions each year, two thirds of which goes to the less than 1 in 4 taxpayers who earn enough to pay higher rates of income tax.
CR: Major savings for taxpayers and benefits for the national economy could be unlocked by reforming the Government's management of England's motorways & trunk roads, says the independent Cook review published last week.
WWF: 25 UK-based companies are amongst many in Europe, Australia & Japan that are buying more certified sustainable palm oil than ever before, but urgent action is still needed to avoid the irreversible loss of tropical forests, according to WWF’s latest assessment of the industry that buys palm oil.
NO: Investigation by 2 Ombudsmen has highlighted significant failings in the care provided to a man in Newcastle who had Down’s syndrome.   A recent report describes how Mr J’s basic human rights were ignored after he was detained unnecessarily in hospital for months and was then moved into inappropriate locked accommodation until his death.
NAO: Financial management at the Ministry of Justice has improved considerably since the National Audit Office last examined this subject in 2010.  However, in some important areas, such as income collection, the Ministry still has a great deal to do.
NAO: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has made significant improvements in its financial management leading the Comptroller & Auditor General to issue an unqualified audit opinion on its 2010-11 accounts.  This is the first clear audit opinion on the Commission's accounts since it was formed in 2007.
IfG: A panel including former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Laws, Nick Boles, MP, and former Permanent Secretary for Government Communications, Matt Tee have discussed their first-hand experiences of the transition of power following last year’s General Election.
It comes as an Institute for Government report warns that the run up to 2015 could be fractious with tensions growing amongst the Coalition partners as they step up campaigning.
CH: Famine, piracy & terrorism in the Horn of Africa are of increasing concern for international policy makers.  A new Chatham House report, Hostage to Conflict: Prospects for Building Regional Economic Cooperation in the Horn of Africa, says that greater efforts to build economic integration and regional growth could tackle the root causes of the region’s troubles. To be successful, this approach needs to harness the power of informal trading markets and avoid a security dominated 'state-centric' approach.  

Unfortunately current efforts risk taking the opposite approach and fuelling the very problems they seek to address.

Legislation / Legal

OFTThe OFT has recently concluded that it has no grounds to take action against IDEXX Laboratories Limited (IDEXX) following an investigation into alleged abuses of a dominant position in the veterinary diagnostic testing sector.
CAT: The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has referred to the Competition Commission (CC) price control matters in an appeal brought against Ofcom by British Telecom (BT) regarding prices that BT is allowed to charge for the supply of certain wholesale services to other Communications Providers.
Monitor: Monitor has confirmed that Dorset County Hospitals is no longer in significant breach of its Authorisation.
HOA new power to temporarily control potentially harmful new drugs has come into effect, along with an importation ban on two substances closely linked to chemicals found in 'legal high' brand 'Ivory Wave'.
MoJJulie Townsend is deputy chief executive of Brake, a charity that campaigns for safer roads and justice for people bereaved & seriously injured in road crashes.  As part of road safety week, she explains why changes to the law on dangerous driving are being welcomed.
DfTPassengers' needs are to be put first under new airports legislation published by Transport Secretary Justine Greening.  The draft Civil Aviation Bill will replace the current economic regulation duties of the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with a single primary duty to promote the interests of passengers.
BIS: A range of substantive reforms will ensure a more sustainable future for Britain’s pubs as the Government last week secured an industry commitment to ‘end unfair practices, through a tough & legally binding Code’.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published its response to the Select Committee’s Report on Pub Companies and set out further details of a strengthened Industry Code to improve the relationship between pub companies and their licensees.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The EU needs to boost its relationships with non-EU States to better reap the mutual benefits migration can bring. The new approach is detailed in a renewed 'Global Approach to Migration and Mobility' which places mobility of third country nationals at its centre and which makes partnerships more sustainable and forward-looking.
EU News: The EC Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, has launched the 'EU Immigration Portal', a website with hands-on information for foreign nationals interested in moving to the EU.
EU NewsNatura 2000, the EU's network of protected areas, has undergone a significant expansion.  Nearly 18,800 square kilometres have been added, including a major addition of marine areas covering 17 000 square kilometres which will increase protection for many endangered marine species.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed to forbid, with no exemptions, the practice of 'shark finning' aboard fishing vessels.
EU News9 EU directives covering a wide variety of products will ensure better product safety. The sectors concerned are electrical & electronic products, lifts, measuring instruments, civil explosives, pyrotechnic articles and equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.
EU NewsThe European Commission has adopted recently the eighteenth update of the list of airlines banned in the European Union.
EU News: The resolution drafted by Mathieu Grosch (EPP, BE) and adopted last week calls for the abolition of all remaining barriers & borders in order to complete the creation of a single transport area for goods & passengers which is competitive, co-modal & resource efficient.  Last week’s vote by the transport committee reflects a broad political consensus on the main safety & environmental targets to be reached by 2020.
EU NewsThe EU patent ‘package’ moved a step closer to final approval last week, when the Legal Affairs Committee approved a mandate to open formal negotiations with national governments to agree to create unitary patent, so as to ‘cut costs for firms & boost the EU's competitiveness.  Parliament will strive to adapt the proposed regime to small firms' needs’.
EU News: The European Commission is ‘accelerating its efforts for economic renewal, with moves to address 3 interwoven challenges facing the EU and the euro area in particular: a divergent but generally lacklustre growth and employment performance; insufficiently coordinated and disciplined budgetary policies; and unstable sovereign debt markets suffering from a lack of liquidity’.
The package contains four elements: the 2012 Annual Growth Survey setting out the economic priorities for the coming year; two Regulations to tighten economic and budgetary surveillance in the euro area; and a Green Paper on Stability Bonds.
EU News: The scope for restricting public access to documents held by EU institutions would be severely curtailed by amendments, made by the Civil Liberties Committee last week, to a draft law on public access.  The committee's bid to thus enhance transparency, accountability and democracy in the EU will be put to a plenary vote in December 2011.
EU News: MEPs gave a cautious welcome to the 3 options presented by the Commission for introducing Eurobonds when they met Commissioner Rehn last week in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Press release & links
EU News: Thousands of people working in cinema, TV, culture, music, performing arts, heritage & related areas would benefit from increased EU support under the new 'Creative Europe' programme unveiled by the European Commission last week.  With a proposed budget of €1.8bn for the period 2014-2020, it would be a much-needed boost for the cultural & creative industries, which are a major source of jobs & growth in Europe.
EU News: The European Commission recently announced there is currently no need to change the basic concept, principles or scope of EU rules on Universal Service to include mobile telecommunications services & broadband connections at EU level.
The Commission has also concluded that it would not be appropriate, at this stage, to set at EU level a single broadband connection speed under the universal service rules, given the very different stages of development of telecoms networks in the Member States and the potential costs involved.
EU News:  A new online portal to help young entrepreneurs start and grow their own business was launched on 17 November 2011 by the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The website initiative addresses policy failings in the promotion of entrepreneurship, especially among young people and women.  The Global Entrepreneur Envoy online portal ‘Entrepreneur Envoy’ will offer tools to foster culture change & promote entrepreneur-friendly policies.
EU News: The EC has stepped up legal action against 6 countries for failing to notify national measures to implement EU rules easing access to justice in cross-border legal disputes.  The Mediation Directive applies when 2 parties involved in a cross-border dispute voluntarily agree to settle their dispute using an impartial mediator.
Meanwhile, the Commission has closed infringement proceedings against Finland, Slovakia and the UK after they informed the Commission of their relevant national rules.
EU News: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been given access to over 600 datasets for use in its full re-evaluation of the artificial sweetener aspartame, which is scheduled for completion in September 2012.  Reaffirming its commitment to openness & transparency, EFSA has published the full list of studies that have been made available to EFSA.
Recognising the level of interest in this work, EFSA will keep the public informed of progress made at key intervals in the risk assessment process.
EU News: The European Commission has recently proposed to provide further EU assistance of €500m to support the decommissioning in Bulgaria, Lithuania & Slovakia. These funds will contribute to the continuation of safe decommissioning of the nuclear power plants Kozloduy, Ignalina and Bohunice. This new financial assistance should support the efforts of the 3 Member States who are ultimately responsible for nuclear safety, including the financing of decommissioning.
DECC: The UK’s marine energy revolution could be further enhanced by support & cooperation at an international level, Energy Minister Charles Hendry said recently.  His call came as EU member states published a report calling for funding & support from the EU Commission to drive forward marine energy.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

NICECharities are urging people who may be at risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to visit their doctor and have a spirometry test in order to get an early diagnosis of the condition, which is characterised by an obstruction of the airways that leads to breathing difficulties.
CO: A new £16.8m central government fund to help not-for-profit free advice services in England is due to be delivered by the Big Fund. The fund will provide immediate support to debt, welfare benefits, employment and housing advice services.
ScotGovJustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has pledged Scottish Government funding for a project aimed at reducingre-offending among prisoners released from short term prison sentences.
PT: The Princes Trust has produced a guide to Seasonal jobs and their benefits. A short-term job is a great stepping stone to permanent employment and will boost a young person’s motivation, confidence & work experience, helping to turn their lives around. 

Business and Other Briefings

DCMSCulture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is continuing his nationwide ‘2012 tour’ which is showcasing the ‘business, tourism, cultural and sporting opportunities the Games will bring to the whole of the UK’.  He is urging local tourism firms to sign up to a new 20.12% discount scheme.
OFGEM: Ofgem has announced far-reaching proposals designed to reform the energy market to help businesses.
OFTThe Motor Industry Service and Repair Code has received OFT approval for its code of practice under the OFT's Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS).  The code of practice is run by Motor Codes and has 6,500 franchised dealers & independent garages as members.
OFT: The OFT has published guidance which sets out the standards it expects from credit brokers and intermediaries. The guidance sets out the OFT's view on unfair practices relating to advertising & sales, refunds of fees & complaints handling.  

It also outlines the responsibilities of businesses that use the services of credit brokers & intermediaries – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
This brief explains that from 1 January 2012 UK residents will no longer be eligible to purchase a boat using the Sailaway Boat Scheme. 

Industry News

ScotGovA test site for a 6 Megawatt offshore wind turbine at Fife Energy Park has been approved by Ministers.
DECC: Centrica has this morning announced a £13bn deal with Norwegian gas company Statoil, which will last 10 years.  The deal will secure delivery of 5bn cubic meters per year from 2015 to 2025 to the UK market.
WAG: Two science graduates from Bangor University have launched a unique DNA profiling service for pet owners that can complement or replace micro-chipping. 
ScotGovPlanning consent has been granted for a wind farm which will generate 75.9 megawatts electricity or enough to power more than 35,000 homes - or around twice the number of homes in Inverness - with green energy.
ScotGov: Funding worth £5m was announced last week by Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil to help kickstart a South of Scotland Alliance (SOSA) project which aims to deliver Next Generation broadband across the region by 2020.
BIS: A multi-million pound site in Bristol, which will speed up new products going from the laboratory to the shop-floor, was opened last week by Business Secretary Vince Cable.  

The National Composites Centre is a new state-of-the-art building offering laboratory space for SMEs to develop new products.  It is also 1 of 7 research & technology facilities which form the High Value Manufacturing technology & innovation centre.

Forthcoming Event

STFC: The next meeting of the Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP) will take place in Swindon on 14 December 2011.  The proposals being looked at are CTA and Dark Matter.
ScotGovThe public will get the chance to find out about vital European proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy at a series of meetings across Scotland.   Senior Scottish Government officials will chair the road shows which start on 6 December 2011 in Perth and take in 13 venues from Shetland & Skye to Lanark & Lauder.

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