In the News
This is the last WGPlus newsletter of 2011. The Wired-Gov team would like to wish everyone a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. The newsletter will start up again in mid-January.
CEOP: For some there will be no ‘family Christmas’ - Resources aimed at helping children at risk of running away and the families of missing children (including an awareness raising film for use by frontline practitioners) have been launched by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. This coincides with the launch recently of the Government’s Missing Children & Adults Strategy.
The key message of ‘My Choice’, a short animated film, is that however bad things may seem, children do have a choice about running away from home or care and there is support out there whatever their circumstances. It has been developed in collaboration with representatives from local authorities, the police, schools & the voluntary sector, as well as independent experts.
It will form part of a new CEOP web area aimed at simplifying access by children & families to support services. The area has been developed in partnership with organisations including Parents & Abducted Children Together (PACT), Missing People, the Children’s Society and the NPIA’s Missing Persons Bureau.
AC: Is it time to make healthy people on benefits ‘earn’ them by working for their local community? - The Audit Commission and the Local Government Association have launched a joint report: Work in progress: meeting local needs with lower workforce costs. Aimed at councils as employers, it shows how local authorities across England are reducing their workforce costs, with some finding creative solutions.
The report comes with guides to pay benchmarking & comparing labour markets. There are also free online tools to assess the ‘spend’ on agency staff and on each service area. A separate publication gives more detail on 5 case studies.
CCC: We cannot afford to waste anything, even rubbish! - Carbon budgets will be very difficult to achieve without the use of bioenergy and the successful development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, according to a review of bioenergy by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
The review concludes that a 10% share of bioenergy in total energy could be required to meet the UK’s 2050 emissions target, compared to the current share of 2%. Bioenergy would ideally be used with CCS, which would allow for the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and for higher emissions reductions to be achieved.
The review suggests that a 10% share in 2050 could be feasible within sustainability limits, but any higher than this could be unsafe given sustainability concerns – and even at the 10% level, there may be trade-offs with wider environmental and social objectives.
CSJ: What is ‘standard’ a family? - Responding to the report from the Centre for Modern Families, Gavin Poole, Executive Director, of the think-tank Centre for Social Justice said; “The Centre for the Modern Family’s headline finding that only 16% of society say they fit the ‘traditional family stereotype’ hides the reality that over half of the people in their study support & aspire to marriage and raising children as a couple”.
Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University, one of the centre’s panel, points out that the findings on numbers of traditional families are due to the way the question was phrased (i.e. in terms of 2.4 children). No one has 2.4 children, so what is perhaps most surprising is that 16% of people do identify themselves with that model.
The last census showed 6 out of 7 couples were married. The 2010 figures on family structure published by the Office for National Statistics in April 2011 (from the ONS Labour Force Survey) show that 60% of families with dependent children are headed by married parents and, if families without dependent children are counted, married families make up 68% of the total.
HO: Make sure you have a 'real' Christmas - The UK Border Agency has warned that Christmas shoppers looking for a bargain should be wary of counterfeit goods which flood the market in the run-up to the festive season.
Latest Case Study: - Successful Outplacement of 7,000 Civil Servants at MoD - In line with many central government departments, the MOD has to reduce their budget expenditure and the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) planned for a 25% reduction in the cost of civilian personnel by 2015, bringing the size of the MOD civil service down by 20,000 staff to a total of some 60,000 civilian posts.
The MOD is keen to continue to support their staff leaving under this scheme and have negotiated a contract to provide total outplacement support including briefings, workshops, career management and active retirement options.
This latest case study explains how over 7,000 MoD civil servants have recently made the successful transition into new roles within the private and third sectors.
Click here to receive the full case study along with how outplacement support was recently provided across 19 separate locations for HM Land Registry.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
MoD: HMS Victory, the world's oldest commissioned warship, is to be returned to her former glory thanks to a 10-year restoration programme.
DCMS: Tourism & Heritage Minister John Penrose has laid a statutory instrument and explanatory memorandum in the Houses of Parliament which (subject to Parliamentary approval) will lead to the formal dissolution of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) in 2012.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is reminding people to cook chicken livers thoroughly if making pate, to reduce the risk of food poisoning. New figures reveal that 90% of campylobacter outbreaks, the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, were linked to undercooked chicken liver pate.
MO: This November and the autumn have been the second warmest on record in the UK, provisional Met Office figures show.
DfT: Local authorities are being given greater control over how their roads appear on maps & satnav systems to help them to better direct traffic, Local Transport Minister Norman Baker has announced.
DCMS: More than 3,000 key 2012 staff and a host of senior Government ministers will took part in a major Olympic test exercise recently.
STFC: A new camera that willrevolutionise the field of submillimetre astronomy has been unveiled, which is far more sensitive & powerful than previous instruments and can map areas of the sky hundreds of times faster.
HMRC: Private tutors & coaches have less than a month left to tell HMRC about any tax that they owe.
DfE: From 2012, prospective head teachers will be able to take a new enhanced qualification to prepare them for the rigours of the job.
DWP: Pensioners will benefit from the biggest cash increase to their basic State Pension from April 2012 as it goes up by September’s Consumer Prices Index of 5.2% - an increase of £5.30 a week.
ESRC: Innovative software to help teachers stay at the forefront of the digital revolution in education has been developed by researchers.
FSA: Maysum has withdrawn certain batches of its chicken and vegetable samosas due to incorrect allergy labelling. The samosas contain sulphites, which aren't mentioned on the label. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has been informed that Marks & Spencer Garlic and Coriander Butterfly Prawns have been sold without the presence of milk being declared in the allergy information panel..
ACE: Arts Council England’s new Strategic touring programme (to encourage collaboration between cultural organisationsso more people across England experience & are inspired by the arts) is now open for applications.
HMRC: Fashion houses are the latest targets of an HMRC campaign aimed at ending the exploitation of interns. .
DH: Over half a million extra staff will not need to pay any extra into their pensions next year, the Department of Health has announced following a recent consultation.
OFT: The OFT has provisionally decided to refer the market for privately funded healthcare services in the UK to the Competition Commission for further investigation, due to the result of a recent study.
MoD: The net additional cost of Operation ELLAMY - costs incurred by the Department on operations which would not otherwise be incurred - is estimated at £212m, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced.
CO: Over 500 businesses have applied for the Cabinet Office’s SME-friendly ‘G-Cloud framework’ and the deadline has been extended by almost 3 weeks to 19 December 2011 as a result. as a result.
ScotGov: To help improve future forecasts, scientists from the UK academic community and the Met Office are using specialist instruments to measure the winds, temperature & humidity, and cloud particles.
UNITE: The privatisation of maternity care in the Wirral is the ‘thin end of the wedge’ that could threaten the quality of care & the employment conditions of midwifery jobs, Unite, the union, has claimed., Unite, the union, has claimed.
ESRC: New research suggests that far from disengaging young people from real life, virtual worlds can provide unique environments that can help them learn & negotiate new situations.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has published its Festive Travel Guide to help Londoners & visitors travelling around the Capital between Christmas & New Year.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
BIS: A new initiative of up to £125m is being set up to improve the global competitiveness of UK advanced manufacturing supply chains, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced. The competitive fund will invite applications early in the New Year.
DfT: Transport Secretary Justine Greening has announced a £16m investment in third rail heating as part of a £38m programme to make sure the rail network is better prepared for severe bad weather this winter.
MoD: British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has said that a blueprint for the international community's long-term engagement with Afghanistan beyond 2014 has been established at the recent International Afghanistan Conference held in Bonn, Germany.
HO: Plans are on track to restore common sense to employment vetting processes while ensuring public protection, Criminal Information Minister, Lynne Featherstone, said as the government responded to the independent Mason review.
The response sets out which of the recommendations from the first part of the review are now before parliament in the Protection of Freedoms bill. These changes will improve the proportionality & efficiency of employment vetting by overhauling the work of the criminal records bureau (CRB).
The government also set out how it will respond to the second part of Mrs Mason's review, which addresses what defines a criminal record, how records are managed, and the international exchange of information.
BIS: Plans to change the way that businesses experience ‘frontline enforcement’, such as business inspections have been set out, including a full scale review of UK regulatory bodies and moves to cut the number of inspections for ‘compliant’ firms.
BIS: A £75m boost for high tech SMEs is part of a package of measures announced in the Government’s new Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth.
DEFRA: Britain faces a future of water shortages, and lasting environmental damage, with some rivers running dry, unless attitudes to water use change, Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, has cautioned after the recent publication of the white paper Water for Life.
DCMS: Nearly 170 responses to Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt’s, Communications Review open letter have been published recently.
WAG: A pilot Digital Development Fund has been launched to support & boost the growth of creative industries in Wales.
MoD: Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond has restated the need for reform in Defence in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute.
HMT: Following Budget 2011, the Government has published responses to a number of tax policy consultations, alongside draft clauses for legislation to be included in Finance Bill 2012. The draft clauses are open to consultation, & taxpayers, businesses & tax professionals are able to contribute to this until 10 February 2012.
WAG: Proposed changes to the data collected & published on homelessness have opened to public consultation recently, as the Welsh Government aims to ensure homelessness information remains relevant, accurate and meets the needs of users (closes 16 January 2012).
HMT: The Government has launched a consultation that will help tackle unacceptable bank bonuses by improving pay transparency at large banks (closes on 14 February 2012).
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued a consultation (closes on 18 January 2012) on guidance for non-executive directors (NEDs). Its aim is to assist NEDs understand their role in ensuring customers are treated fairly within their firms.
PR: The Pensions Regulator will shortly invite the pensions sector to take part in a dialogue on 6 principles for good design & governance of workplace defined contribution (DC) pension provision, which will form the basis of its regulatory approach going forward.
HMT: Following a ruling by the European Court of Justice in March 2011, the Government has issued its promised consultation document on how insurers can use gender as a risk factor in the light of the judgment (closes on 29 February 2012))
WAG: Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing, Regeneration & Heritage called for ideas to help meet people’s housing needs, when he launched a document called ‘Meeting the Housing Challenge – building consensus for action’, which will open up a debate on the key housing issues & challenges which will face us over the next 5 years.
All views will be taken into account in the development of a Housing White Paper next spring. The closing date for this consultation is Friday 17 February 2012.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
TUC: The TUC has published a guide to the UK's key enforcement agencies to coincide with a recent conference aimed at tackling exploitation in the workplace.
DfT: UK-registered vessels will be able to employ armed guards to defend themselves against pirates in exceptional circumstances under new guidance confirmed by the Government.
NICE: NICE is to help local government make the most of limited resources to commission the best possible public health services, by developing a series of value-for-money briefings.
ECC: The Government has set out statutory guidance for new nuclear operators to produce plans for funding the decommissioning of their power stations and managing their radioactive waste.
DCMS: Figures from the Government’s December 2011 Olympic Quarterly Economic Report show that the overall funding package for the Games remains at £9.298bn with more than £500m of unallocated contingency available.
DEFRA: The Independent Panel on Forestry, set-up to advise the Government on the future of England's forests & woods, has published its progress report.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has recently published its fourth annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, and an updated CSR policy.
DfE: Secondary school banding information has been published. Banding uses the performance of schools to group them into one of five bands – from Band 1, schools which are ‘performing well’, to Band 5 schools which ‘need to improve’.
General Reports and Other Publications
NIESR: NIESR research (‘The introduction of Jobcentre Plus: An evaluation of labour market impacts’) finds that the introduction of Jobcentre Plus improved the functioning of the British labour market, increasing the rate of job-matching for benefit claimants of working age and reducing benefit dependency.
CBI: - Almost 50% of businesses believe that current employment laws discourage job creation, says a joint survey, entitled ‘Unlocking Employment: A joint survey on attitudes to Employment Law among Northern Ireland Businesses’, leading to calls for an 'urgent review' of the cost of employment law.
Civitas: British Universities are educating 6,000 fewer British engineersa year than 10 years ago, adding fewer STEM subject graduates to theadding fewer STEM subject graduates to the labour market than total student figures suggest, according to a new Civitas report, The STEM subject push.
iea: A new report released recently by the Institute of Economic Affairs, No Case for Plan B – Lessons for the Great Recession from the Great Depression, argues that any switch to a Plan B on the economy which involves more government borrowing will not boost growth and will instead simply increase government debt.
Socitm: A survey by Socitm Insight of council website & social media coverage of the public sector strike on 30 November shows wide variation in practice & performance.
DECC: The results of a major new scientific assessment of climate change has been published, highlighting the effects the world could face if global temperature changes are not limited to 2 degrees.
NAO: The Olympic Delivery Authority remains on course to deliver its work on the Olympic Park on time, however, almost the whole of the £9.298bn Public Sector Funding Package for the 2012 Games is likely to be required, with little scope for further unforeseen costs to emerge in the 8 months left.
ESRC: Many disabled children fail to reach their full potential because they continue to be marginalised in schools, health & social care, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
DWP: A Call for Evidence into how Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) might operate for claimants in the future has been published recently by Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform.
CBI: In Joining-up, joining-in, the CBI called on the Government to step up the pace of action on community budgets, which could save local authorities around £18bn annually in England alone.
ACFP: The Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel has recently published a report giving its views on proposals to expand the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and introduce a controversial Large Retail Levy.
NAO: The Government has not in general measured the benefits delivered by its 2 central internet services Directgov and Business.gov and the infrastructure service Government Gateway, which together cost some £90m, according to a report by the National Audit Office.
DWP: Research published recently by the Department for Work and Pensions is a technical paper which looks at variation in the programme impacts across the Jobcentre Plus districts participating in the Employment, Retention and Advancement(ERA) Demonstration.
CBI: The CBI has commented on a campaign by UK Trade & Investment to encourage more UK exports to high growth and emerging Asian markets.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently published the first 5 reports from a targeted programme of 150 inspections of hospitals and care homes that care for people with learning disabilities.
The programme is looking at whether people experience safe & appropriate care, treatment & support and whether they are protected from abuse. A national report into the findings of the programme will be published in Spring 2012.
NIA: A scheme put in place to reduce pollution from slurry & manure and so improve water quality was poorly planned & was poor value for money, the Assembly Public Accounts Committee has found.
NHS Confed: NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout says NHS leaders need to give proper consideration to how they can best implement the NCEPOD report 'Knowing the Risk' recommendations.
NHS Confed: The Government must simplify & clarify the significantly more complicated system it has created for child health under its reforms says a new NHS Confederation report. There is a real sense that insufficient attention has been paid to what the reforms will mean for child health.
To rectify the situation, the Government should start by clarifying & simplifying how services will work together and go on to produce a cross-government strategy.
Legislation / Legal
HMRC: Benefit cheats are being warned that Government will work with a credit reference agency (CRA) to track down fraudsters across the country.
OFT: The OFT has accepted formal commitments from 6 insurance companies and 2 IT software & service providers to limit the data they exchange between them.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued its largest ever retail fine of £10.5m to HSBC because of inappropriate investment advice provided by one of its subsidiaries, NHFA Limited (NHFA) to elderly customers.
WAG: Housing Associations across Wales will be under greater scrutiny in a new regulatory environment with more of a focus on financial viability & good governance whilst being more accountable to their tenants under new regulations set out by the Welsh Government.
The new Framework will deliver modern & efficient regulation and sets out key principles, features and WAG’s approach to the regulation of housing associations.
OFT: The OFT is urging shoppers to know their consumer rights when buying clothes for the Christmas party season or in New Year sales. Problems with clothes is consistently amongst the top 10 complaints received by Consumer Direct, the OFT-managed consumer advice service, and over 20,000 complaints have been received so far this year. January is the peak month for complaints about clothes which in 2011 were around 40% higher than during an average month.
When you buy clothes, even when they are in a sale, your purchase must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If this is not the case, the items are faulty and you are within your legal rights to ask for a refund, repair or replacement.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has updated & prolonged a set of temporary state aid control rules to assess public support to financial institutions during the crisis.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed a new fund for the EU's maritime & fisheries policies for the period 2014-2020. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) isaimed at delivering the ambitious objectives of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
EU News: Crime victims who are granted protection in one EU Member State will be able to get similar protection if they move to another, under new European Protection Order rules endorsed by the Civil Liberties and the Women's Rights Committees.
EU News: Third country migrants working legally within the EU should enjoy comparable rights to those of EU nationals as regards working conditions, social security and access to public services, under a new ‘single permit’ directive agreed by Parliament & Council and backed by the Civil Liberties & Employment committees.
EU News: ICT research is dramatically changing the possibilities open to people as diverse as victims of brain injuries and video game makers. Partners from Hollywood to hospitals are now reaping the benefits of this EU-funded research.
EU News: The European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group have launched a new guarantee facility for innovative SMEs to help them access finance from banks.
EU News: European citizens have been invited to start voting for their favourite multimodal journey planner as part of the first European Mobility Challenge.
EU News: New rules to give farmers fairer prices for raw milk have been agreed by MEPs and Council negotiators, but still need to be confirmed by the Parliament as a whole and the Council.
EU News: European Member States have agreed to delay individual movement reporting for older sheep.
EU News: The European Ombudsman has received a positive reply from the EU institutions in 78% of cases where he issued critical remarks and made suggestions for improvement in 2010.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted budget proposals for its external instruments from 2014-2020. .
EU News: The EU Action Plan to improve access to finance for SMEs presents the various EU policies & measures to make access to finance easier for Europe's 23m SMEs.
EU News: To better protect Europeans from a wide range of health threats, and provide for a fully co-ordinated response in the event of a crisis, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal on the means to address serious cross border health threats.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted revised rules for assessing state aid for shipbuilding to take account of the more specialised nature of today's shipbuilding industry, to be enforced from 1 January 2012..
FSA: The new Food Information Regulation (FIR), designed to make food labelling easier to understand for consumers, has been published by the European Union.
Press release & links
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BHF: New research has shown that being physically fit could have more of an impact on your health than controlling your weight.
AUK: Age UK has asked MPs to sign a pledge to reduce the number of winter deaths.
BHF: The Prime Minister has announced that patient data will be more widely available to charities like the British Heart Foundation to help their life-saving research.
VSO: VSO and the Peace Corps have signed a partnership agreement at the UN headquarters in New York that will allow the organisationsto share best practices and work more effectively in countries where volunteers serve.
HL: Relationship breakdowns are causing a rise in homelessness among young people, a new Homeless Link study has revealed.
CO: New support to help staff-led mutual organisations set up & spin out from the public sector has been unveiled by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office recently. The new £10m Mutual Support Programme (MSP) will provide business & professional services to groups of staff or existing mutual organisations.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: HMRC has issued an alert to VAT-registered businesses across the UK about important changes that come into effect this spring. From 1 April 2012, all VAT-registered businesses must send their VAT returns online and pay their VAT electronically.
ScotGov: A Memorandum of Understanding on Culture between China and Scotland has been signed, committing the governments in Beijing & Edinburgh to supporting greater exchange & collaboration across the arts, creative industries, heritage and national collections.
HO: Plans are on track to restore common sense to employment vetting processes while ensuring public protection, Criminal Information Minister, Lynne Featherstone, said as the government responded to an independent review – See ‘Policy Statements & Initiatives’ section for more information.
BIS: Plans to change the way that businesses experience ‘frontline enforcement’, such as business inspections have been set out, including a full scale review of UK regulatory bodies and moves to cut the number of inspections for ‘compliant’ firms - See ‘Policy Statements & Initiatives’ section for more information.
This Brief reminds traders about the forthcoming withdrawal of Extra Statutory Class Concession 3:16 relating to first time connection charges to the gas or electricity mains supply.
HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief 39/11: This brief provides further information on the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in respect of HMRC v - The Rank Group plc: principle of fiscal neutrality.
DCMS: To mark 60 years of The Queen's reign, the Diamond Jubilee will take place in 2012. Find out what is being planned to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and dates for Bank holidays and school closures.
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