In the News
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ScotGov: Will the Scots pay back the rest of the UK for rescuing their banks? - The Scottish Government plans to hold an independence referendum in the autumn of 2014, First Minister Alex Salmond said following a meeting last week of the Scottish Cabinet. The Scottish Government will launch a consultation on the referendum later this month.
Confirmation that the referendum will be held in Autumn 2014 will allow all the necessary legislation required to authorise it to be passed and for proper preparations to be made with a referendum bill being introduced to the Scottish Parliament in January 2013.
DfT: Would an independent Scotland pay all the costs to extend HS2 beyond Leeds & Manchester? - Britain will have a national high speed rail network providing vital new capacity & faster journeys across the country from 2026, Transport Secretary Justine Greening has announced. HS2 will be a Y-shaped rail network with stations in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and the East Midlands linked by high speed trains conveying up to 26,000 people each hour at speeds of up to 250mph.
It will be built in 2 phases:
* The first will see construction of a new 140 mile line between London & Birmingham by 2026. It will include a connection to Europe via the Channel Tunnel. On completion of HS2 the network will include a direct link to Heathrow Airport.
* The second phase will see lines built from Birmingham to Leeds & Manchester by 2033. A formal consultation on second phase routes will begin in early 2014 with a final route chosen by the end of 2014.
EU News: Musical Ghost of Emperor Nero lives on in EU - A ‘very broad agreement in favour’ of an EU financial transaction tax emerged at the start of the Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee's work on the legislative proposal. Spokespersons for Parliament's various political groups all advocated such a tax, at least throughout the Eurozone, and many deplored France's hint that it could go it alone.
Marta Andreasen (EFD, UK) said that she found it "incredible that we are discussing a financial transaction tax for 2014 when the Euro is burning". The draft report is scheduled to be presented on 28 February, put to a committee vote in early April and a plenary one in June 2012.
WAG: Ensuring Nursing Care is ‘fit for purpose’ - Hourly ward rounds by nurses to check on patients’ comfort & personal needs are among the many improvements to patient care introduced as part of the Welsh Government’s drive to improve the patient experience in Wales.
The Transforming Care initiative, being rolled out across Wales, is designed specifically to increase the amount of time nursing staff spend on direct patient care. It also covers activities to reduce pressure sores, falls on wards & other similar incidents and includes hourly ward rounds by nurses.
Other initiatives underway across Wales include the Free to Lead, Free to Care programme, which empowers hospital ward sisters & charge nurses to manage their wards. One product from this programme is the Nutrition Care Pathway, which has introduced standard food & fluid charts to every in-patient area in Wales and requires organisations to protect patients at mealtimes from non urgent medical interventions.
There are national work programmes on oral health & hygiene, continence care, cleanliness standards and expansion of the Fundamentals of Care audit tool to gain more evidence from patients about their experiences. The National Dementia Vision for Wales sets out how the Welsh Government intends to develop high quality services for people with dementia, a commitment reflected in the 5-year vision for the NHS in Wales, Together for Health.
NICE: At least one part of the NHS is being ‘joined-up’! - NHS & social care staff in England now have open access to the online version of The Lancet, thanks to an agreement between NICE & Elsevier to fund a national subscription. This 3-year agreement will provide all NHS staff who have an Athens password access to the latest copies of The Lancet, as well as back copies from the last 4 years, through NHS Evidence - the online service provided by NICE.
Healthcare students following an NHS-commissioned education programme which involves practice & placement within the NHS across England will also have access under the agreement. Social care staff who meet the eligibility criteria will also be able to access The Lancet. Register online if you are eligible for an Athens password, but don't yet have one.
MoD: Keeping military families together - The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) has teamed up with The Sun newspaper and Audioboo to launch 'Boost for the Boys', a new way of keeping families in touch with their loved ones. Using the 'Boost for the Boys' webpage you can record & upload messages for family & friends wherever they are in the Forces world. The service is FREE & simple to use.
MoD: Returning to civilian life is difficult - A video to help veterans learn about the support available to them has been published on YouTube by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA). The 5-minute video is designed to raise awareness of the one-to-one help provided by the UK's Veterans Welfare Service to anyone who has served in the Armed Forces.
TNA: Preparing the Past for the Future - The National Archives records wiki, Your Archives, will be closing this year, as they prepare for the full launch of Discovery, their new online catalogue. In order to progress with the transition to Discovery, TNA have decided to close Your Archives to new users from January 2012. In addition, users will be unable to edit content after September 2012.
TNA will then prepare the site for preservation on the government web archive - Your Archives' content will be accessible from the archive, but some functionality may not work. Take a look at the beta version of Discovery, which is up & running.
ESRC: Yet many school leavers cannot do even basic maths - The demand from employers for employees with skills & confidence in using quantitative methods (QM) is high & growing. The internet, advances in computing power and the growing 'data deluge' have made it more important than ever to ensure that all social science undergraduates receive the best teaching possible to develop these skills.
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), in partnership with Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the British Academy, are delighted to announce 20 new & innovative projects that aim to develop skills in this area. The 20 projects include a range of activities including the development of online & interactive teaching resources, videos, and podcasts using the best available technology in innovative ways.
Recent paper: Effective Public Sector Document Management – Benefits, Impact and Efficiencies - Effective Document and/or Records Management is essential for knowledge-rich, time-poor public sector organisations where filing, security, access, retrieval, updating and disposal of information must all be managed alongside the pressing needs of FOI and legislative requirements within ever-tightening budgets.
A recent NHS Trust project has ensured that all existing medical records, both current and historical, are available digitally and in the process several buildings worth of space have been reclaimed and can be sold or re-furbished for alternative uses.
Savings from the project not only extend to the buildings but also staff costs as there were previously over 100 personnel involved in the records management and sourcing. Projected savings for future years therefore run into the millions of pounds.
Click here to find out more and receive your free guide to cost-effective Public Sector Document Management.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
Defra: The Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman, has announced her intention to appoint new members to 5 National Park Authorities (NPAs) and to the Broads Authority. There will be 2 vacancies in the New Forest, North York Moors & Yorkshire Dales NPAs and 1 vacancy in the Peak District and South Downs NPAs and the Broads Authority. Deadline for receipt of applications is Monday 13 February 2012..
Directgov: Received a Coding Notice for 2012-13? During January, February or March you may get a PAYE Coding Notice from HMRC telling you what your new tax code will be for the tax year 2012-13. Your new tax code will be used by your employer or pension provider from the 6 April 2012 to make sure you pay the right amount of tax.
TfL: The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, visited the A4 Hammersmith flyover recently to inspect work being carried out to repair one of the most vital stretches of road in the capital as soon as possible. The complex flyover was forced to close due to water damage that has corroded & weakened the cables that give the bridge its strength.
Engineers have confirmed that preparatory work can begin ahead of the installation of new cables within the structure that will strengthen the flyover and allow it to take full vehicle loading again. They also confirmed that the flyover will be repaired and fully available to traffic before the London 2012 Games.
DCMS: People & businesses in the UK are being urged to invite their contacts, friends and relatives from around the world to visit Britain in 2012. Share Your GREAT Britain is the latest phase of the GREAT Britain – You’re Invited marketing programme, which has featured invitations from celebrities such as chef Jamie Oliver and actress Dame Judi Dench.
ScotGov: The UK's expert group has concluded that there is no evidence to support routine removal of the implants and that there is no link to cancer. However, it has also advised that women with PiP implants should consult with their surgeon, hospital or clinic. An advice line is available for Scottish women who have concerns or would like more advice about their implants. The opening times are 8am - 10pm, 7 days a week.
HPA: Thousands of households in a part of Cornwall with historic radon problems are being offered a FREE test for levels of the radioactive gas radon. Letters have this week gone to around 17,000 homes in the former Carrick district, as part of ongoing HPA, Cornwall Council and Primary Care Trust work, offering householders a FREE radon test.
A home radon test involves placing 2 plastic detectors, about the size of a biscuit, in key positions around the home. After 3 months the detectors are posted to the HPA where they are analysed and the radon level is calculated. If levels are high the HPA will recommend action to reduce levels and will invite householders to local advice sessions.
FSA: Makro is recalling certain batches of tapas meat products because some are contaminated with listeria. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: Waitrose is withdrawing its own brand Essential Salmon and Dill Fishcakes because of incorrect allergy labelling. The fishcakes contain mustard, which isn’t mentioned on the label. If you’re allergic to or intolerant of mustard, you’re advised not to eat this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
TfL: All drivers are urged to switch off their engines when parked, loading or waiting at the roadside when their vehicle is stationary for more than a minute. If all the vehicles in central London turned off their engines for as little as one minute per day, it could annually save PM10 pollution equivalent of a car travelling to the moon & back 3 times.
HEFCE: Funding for projects at 27 universities under Higher Education Funding Council England’s Revolving Green Fund (RGF) was announced last week. The awards have been made to 4 major projects and 24 smaller-scale programmes at higher education institutions, and collectively they will receive nearly £11m).
All are designed to reduce harmful carbon emissions. In this, the second round of the RGF, the 4 major projects enable existing buildings on a campus to be retrofitted to reduce energy consumption. This work is collectively predicted to reduce CO2 emissions by around 229,000 tonnes per year.
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly has launched a new & exciting Art Competition aimed at Key Stage 2 pupils (7 – 11 year olds). Children enrolled in primary schools across NI are being asked to submit an original drawing or painting. The winners will have their art work displayed in Parliament Buildings and will also be given the opportunity to work alongside a top Northern Ireland Artist to create a piece of artwork which will be given pride of place in the Assembly’s Great Hall.
Young people can choose between two themes ‘My World’ or ‘Remembering the Titanic’. This year’s competition closes on Friday 9 March 2012..
MoD: British military advisers are helping to ensure that scientists & engineers create the best kit for the front line. It is for this reason that military advisers work alongside scientists & engineers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to design, build & test items that swing the balance of power in the UK's favour.
Press release & links
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: Environment Minister, John Griffiths, has announced that the Welsh Government is pushing forward work to research how the consenting process for renewable energy projects in Wales is currently working. The research will seek to establish an evidence base and uncover any factors that might be delaying consents for renewable energy projects.
DH: As part of the Government’s pledge to carry on listening to NHS staff, patients & the public, the independent NHS Future Forum was asked in the summer to listen to views on education & training, information, integrated care, and public health. The Government has now responded & accepted the recommendations following the Future Forum’s report.
WAG: CAFCASS Cymru, the Children and Family Court Advisory & Support Service in Wales, has launched its Strategic Plan for the next 3 years, which outlines CAFCASS Cymru’s strategic goals for the period 2012-2015 and defines the values at the heart of its work. The plan also sets out a number of challenges that will shape the organisation in the coming years.
CLG: The Homes and Communities Agency have completed their assessment of bids and have recommended offers from successful councils & other organisations that will deliver over 750 new & improved pitches for travellers at a cost of £47m. New bids for the remaining £13m of the £60m budget will continue to be considered and the Agency will help those who had their bids rejected to improve & resubmit their offers so that further pitches can be delivered over the next 3 years.
This new support for official traveller pitches goes hand in hand with action against unauthorised traveller sites. Through the Localism Act, the Government is introducing stronger powers for councils to tackle the abuse of retrospective planning permission.
WAG: Almost 2,000 non-medical healthcare students, including nurses, midwives, paramedics & pharmacists will be funded by the Welsh Government in 2012-13, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced.
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has recently made proposals to ‘help ensure tenancy cheats who deny social homes to families in need will face justice’. Some estimates suggest that between 50,000 and 160,000 social homes are currently being unlawfully occupied across the country.
The Minister set out proposals to criminalise the abuse of social homes - such as unlawful subletting & key-selling - with a possible 2 year jail sentence. Tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds a year renting their social homes out to private tenants - but if caught, may currently face no greater penalty than losing their tenancy.
CO: Savings from introducing strict property controls and getting a better grip on the property estate are already more than £100m this financial year, with 3 months yet to go, Minister for Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announced last week. This exceeds the £90m saved in 2010/11.
The savings come as the Cabinet Office publishes new data on property as part of the Government’s transparency drive. This information shows the sheer breadth of the central civil estate and includes information on the number, location and size of properties as well as detailed usage statistics – such as space, cost and water and energy consumption per employee.
CO: More than 100 of the biggest hitters in British business have signed the Government’s Business Compact on social mobility and are opening their doors to people from all walks of life, ending the ‘who you know, not what you know’ culture, the Deputy Prime Minister announced last week.
The Business Compact forms a key part of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Social Mobility Strategy, launched in April 2011, which sets out the Government’s determination to ensure every individual is free to achieve, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
Ofsted: Ofsted is consulting (closes on 6 April 2012) on changes to the way it registers & inspects early years providers, including nurseries & childminders, following the recent review of the Early Years Foundation Stage. The changes will coincide with the revised EYFS, which the Government intends to publish in September 2012.
Press release & links
ScotGov: Proposals for a costs capping scheme in cases challenging decisions by public authorities which impact on the environment have been published in a Scottish Government consultation (closes on 3 April 2012). The usual rule in civil cases is that the 'loser pays'. The proposals as a whole are designed to provide access to justice in environmental cases within a robust legislative framework which allows public bodies to make decisions with confidence.
Press release & links
Ofsted: Ofsted has launched a consultation (closes on 3 April 2012) on changes to the inspection of adoption support agencies. Key proposals are to reduce the number of judgements and to give shorter notice of inspections.
This will help to focus inspections on what makes the most difference in bringing about positive outcomes for children, adoptive families & adults who use the service and allow inspectors to gain as true a picture as possible. Following consultation, inspections under the new framework will begin in September 2012.
Press release & links
NIA: As part of its Inquiry into School Councils, the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Education is asking (just) all school Principals to complete an online questionnaire to find out how many school councils there are, and gather views on their work and impact. The link to an online questionnaire will be sent directly to Headteachers in a letter.
The Committee is also interested in hearing from schools that do not have school councils, to understand their reasons and learn about alternative forms of pupil participation they may be using.
Press release & links
DCMS: In October 2011, the Chancellor announced £150m for improving mobile coverage across the with the aim of extending it to 99% of the
population and eliminate voice not-spots. Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has now published a document asking industry for information & views on:
* where the not-spots are
* the best approach to tackling them
* the different infrastructure options
* ensuring the chosen solution can be used by all mobile operators
Those wanting to take part have until 10 February 2012 to respond to the questions in the document so procurement can begin in spring this year, with users seeing the benefit from early 2013. A separate question document will be published shortly to seek the views of Local Authorities and Devolved Administrations.
Press release & links
EU News: A secure & transparent integrated payments environment throughout the EU could create more efficient, modern & safer means of payments – for the benefits of consumers, merchants and payment providers. The Commission seeks the views of stakeholders as to which obstacles hinder further market integration and how these could be resolved – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc’ section for more information.
Press release & links
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
ScotGov: Scotland's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer have urged people to follow a few simple tips and take some basic precautions to prevent bugs spreading (including Norovirus) to protect more vulnerable friends & family. This includes the very young, the elderly, the sick along with people in hospitals and care homes.
HPA: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) together with the group A streptococcal (GAS) Working Group has launched new guidelines for the investigation, control & prevention of GAS infection in acute healthcare settings, including maternity units, in the UK.
NICE: From 11 January 2012, doctors will have new advice on the drugs they should prescribe their patients who have epilepsy. This comes as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the healthcare guidance body, updates the pharmacological recommendations from its clinical guideline on the diagnosis and management of the condition.
The guideline has been revised to fully incorporate newer anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) which have emerged in UK clinical practice since the original guidance was published in 2004.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has produced a factsheet to help people who have an intolerance to gluten understand a new food labelling law, which came into force on 1 January 2012. Gluten (a protein found in cereals) intolerance is a serious illness that can result in damage to the digestive system so foods are not absorbed properly, which can lead to poor growth, anaemia and bone disease.
The Agency has also provided a factsheet for caterers on how to provide information to customers on the new rules. This will assist caterers and those in the hospitality industry to understand the new descriptions.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has recently published its fourth annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, and an updated CSR policy.
DWP: Research published by the Department for Work and Pensions shows that age-related discrimination and stereotyping remain rooted in British society. The findings are based on new analysis from the ONS Opinions Survey.
The report looks at the factors that are associated with age discrimination and prejudice and compares attitudes between two key groups, people in their 20s and people aged 70 and over.
General Reports and Other Publications
WAG: The Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths, has launched a report that will improve the lives of people with sensory loss. The report, Accessible Healthcare for People with Sensory Loss in Wales, makes recommendations on delivering sustainable improvements in the experiences of patients with sensory loss when they come into contact with the NHS in Wales.
The research that informed the report focussed on 5 key areas; communication, workforce & training, healthcare standards, inspection & review and complaints, and the report developed specific recommendations in relation to each of these areas.
FSA: A new report published by the Food Standards Agency shows that consumers are broadly in favour of reducing inspections on compliant businesses so that resources can be focused on those which are higher risk.
Under the proposed ‘Earned Recognition’ scheme, food businesses that are able to demonstrate a history of good compliance with the legislation, or that are members of a private assurance scheme, would receive a lighter touch in terms of the number and type of official inspections.
WF: In the wake of the Chancellor’s plans to make the skills system more responsive to employers, a report by The Work Foundation argues that skills shortages are only part of the problem.
The report shows how a failure to address the under-utilisation of skills, especially at the lower end of the labour market, constitutes a barrier to both social mobility and the competitiveness of the UK economy.
Civitas: Energy experts warn that unwarranted support for wind-power is hindering genuinely cleaner energy. The focus on wind-power, driven by the renewables targets, is preventing Britain from effectively reducing CO2 emissions, while crippling energy users with additional costs, according to a new Civitas report.
The report finds that wind-power is unreliable and requires back-up power stations to be available in order to maintain a consistent electricity supply to households and businesses.
This means that energy users pay twice: once for the window-dressing of renewables, and again for the fossil fuels that the energy sector continues to rely on. Contrary to the implied message of the Government's approach, the analysis shows that wind-power is not a low-cost way of reducing emissions.
IPPR: New analysis from the think tank IPPR suggests that executive pay increases are not justified by the performance of their companies. On average, total CEO remuneration increased by 33%, while the average increase in company value was 24%. IPPR’s new analysis looks at CEO reward packages and company value in 87 companies in the FTSE 100 over 2010/11.
On average, CEOs in the 87 companies took home £5.1m in basic pay, bonuses, share incentives and pension contributions. But changes in remuneration of chief executives and the value of FTSE 100 companies have no statistical relationship.
PC&PE: The interests of people in Wales must not be left unprotected or marginalised if the Government proceeds with its plans to abolish one of the major consumer advocacy groups in Wales, Consumer Focus. That’s the message of a report published by the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee.
PC&PE: Alcohol guidelines should be reviewed, according to a new report that raises concerns about the Government's advice on sensible drinking. MPs on the Science and Technology Committee conclude that greater efforts should also be focused on helping people understand the guidelines and how to use them.
NIESR: Research by the National Institute of Economic & Social Research shows that non-European economic and student migrants ‘impose costs on UK public services that are small both relative to the total cost of these services and to the share of these groups in the population as a whole’.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published 10 reports from a targeted programme of 150 unannounced inspections of hospitals & care homes that care for people with learning disabilities. The first 5 reports were published in December. The 10 inspections were of hospitals that provide assessment & treatment services.
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 the Spring 2012.
CBI: The Government needs to ‘think big’ when it publishes its forthcoming Communications Bill, and be ambitious about what one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors can achieve, the CBI says. In a new report, called Blazing a trail – the UK communications sector in a global economy, the CBI says the communications industry should play a key part in rebalancing the economy.
To support this, the Government must ensure that regulation is suitable for a dynamic industry, encourage competition in the communications sector, maximise export opportunities, and ensure the UK has the infrastructure it needs to compete on a global stage.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee published its 62nd Report of the Session, on the basis of evidence from the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, HM Treasury, as well as Age UK, Child Poverty Action Group, and the London School of Economics.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said:
"The Government spends at least £87 billion a year on means-tested benefits, and the poorest households rely on them for a third of their income. So it is crucial that government gets the design and implementation of means-tested benefits right, to protect vulnerable claimants as well as the taxpayer………
At present, there are nine central government departments and 152 local authorities administering 30 different means-tested benefits, yet there is no one body responsible for coordinating means-testing across government. There needs to be a single body responsible for overseeing the interaction between different benefits, means tested or not, and ensuring consistency and value for money”.
IPPR: Reacting to a new report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published recently on the impact of immigration on unemployment, Matt Cavanagh, associate director of the think tank IPPR, said:
“This is an important report, but there is a danger that in it's finding that there is an ‘association between immigration and employment’ – and in particular that ‘an extra 100 non-EU migrants are initially associated with 23 fewer native people employed’ – will be seized on as ‘gotcha’ moment confirming the popular view that immigrants take jobs off British people. However, a number of cautionary points need to be made”.
CH: New research published by Chatham House uses high resolution satellite imagery and nightlight emissions to analyse the effects of piracy on the Somali economy and establish which groups benefit from ransom payments.
The report's author, Dr Anja Shortland, says that piracy has had a positive impact on local economies and therefore a military strategy to eradicate piracy could seriously undermine local development.
Treasure Mapped: Using Satellite Imagery to Track the Developmental Effects of Somali Piracy demonstrates how pirates appear to be investing money principally in the main cities of Garowe and Bosasso, rather than in the coastal communities where pirate activity takes place.
The report also suggests that coastal villages have gained little from hosting pirates and may be open to a negotiated solution which would be to their benefit.
WWF: WWF and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) recently rejected the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) report claiming that new runways are needed in the Southeast in order to meet consumer demand.
The CAA's report ignores the advice of the Government’s climate advisers and is also in direct contradiction to Government policy to make the most of the airport capacity we already have.
Legislation / Legal
FSCS: Changes to the Credit Union Act came into force on 8 January 2012, removing the requirements that place a restriction on credit union membership. The changes will not impact on the protection FSCS provides credit union members which will remain at £85,000 per person.
The new legislation also means that for the first time, credit unions can provide services to businesses, community groups and social enterprises. They will also be able to offer interest on savings, instead of paying dividends to members and will be able to charge for additional services.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has responded to the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority’s (EIOPA) draft advice to the European Commission (EC) for the review of the IORP Directive, the European legislation that governs the regulation of UK pension schemes.
The consultation includes the extent to which the regulatory framework for UK pension schemes should be similar to that for other financial institutions and products, in particular the Solvency II framework for insurers.
EU News: Carrying a virtual train ticket or repaying a friend with your mobile phone, buying your groceries online, paying with your debit card abroad (the way European citizens shop & pay) is radically changing.
A secure & transparent integrated payments environment throughout the EU could create more efficient, modern & safer means of payments – for the benefits of consumers, merchants and payment providers.
Based on the Green Paper consultation adopted last week, the Commission seeks the views of stakeholders as to which obstacles hinder further market integration and how these could be resolved. The deadline for submitting contributions to the consultation is 11 April 2012.
On the basis of a thorough analysis of the consultation feedback, the Commission will announce the next steps to be taken before the summer of 2012.
EU News: The development of electronic commerce & online services offers enormous potential for beneficial economic, social and societal change. The European Commission finds, however, that there are many obstacles preventing consumers & businesses from investing fully in online services: ignorance or uncertainty about the applicable rules, offers that lack transparency & are hard to compare, and payments & modes of delivery that are often expensive and unsuitable.
That is why, as part of the Digital Agenda and the Single Market Act and in response to the request from the European Council to submit a roadmap for the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2012, the Commission has adopted a Communication presenting 16 targeted initiatives aimed at doubling the share of e-commerce in retail sales by 2015.
EU News: The latest draft of the treaty on reinforced economic union is unacceptable - Parliament could not endorse it as it stands, said MEPs representing it on the treaty drafting group, Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT), Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Greens/EFA, FR), in a joint statement last Wednesday.
ScotGov: The Scotland-wide series of public meetings about the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) kicked off again last week – See ‘Forthcoming Events’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: The Lottery-funded FORCES IN MIND TRUST (FIMT) was launched last week with Royal backing from The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry to bring support to former UK military and their families.
Over the next 20 years, the Trust will provide UK-wide long-term support & advocacy for Service personnel and Veterans to make a successful transition to civilian life. The focus will be on addressing a range of problems that some ex-service personnel and their families can experience back in civilian life, such as poor mental health, family breakdown and alcohol-related problems.
CO: The new Community First endowment, which aims to raise £150m to be invested to secure the future of local community projects in England, has been launched by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society recently. The Government will pay in up to £50m, giving 50p for every £1 raised from individual, corporate & philanthropic donors.
With Gift Aid tax relief, this will create a pot worth in excess of £150m. The money will be invested and the return, expected to be up to £12m per year, will be used to provide grants to local community and social action projects from 2015 onwards.
TPT: Growing up without a daily routine or structure such as regular bedtimes and set meal times can harm a young person’s school grades & overall wellbeing, warns a new report. The Prince’s Trust Youth Index reveals how 10% of young people feel their days ‘lacked structure and direction’ while growing up, while those with lower school grades are more than twice as likely to claim this (26%).
AUK: Age UK is urging professionals who work in the social care sector to back their Care in Crisis campaign, demanding urgent reform of the care system. Age UK aim to collect 100,000 signatures by 1 March 2012, and will deliver them to the Government ahead of the planned White Paper on the future of long term care.
HL: Please watch a recording of Homeless Link’s ‘Homelessness Transition Fund - Feedback for Round 1’ webinar, held on 9th January, 2012. Purpose of Webinar included:
* To explore the reasons why 3 out of 4 applications were unsuccessful, and:
* For unsuccessful applicants: To learn how future applications can be improved.
*For all: To learn how we can better tackle rough sleeping and implement NSNO principles.
AUK: New research from Age UK shows that the Personal Budget system in England, which is meant to enable adults to have greater choice in choosing and paying for domiciliary & day care, is highlighting huge regional differences in the amount of care older people receive.
Business and Other Briefings
WAG: The Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert has announced £30m of funding to extend a successful Welsh Government scheme that aims to support the creation of 3,000 jobs over the next 3 years. Following the award of £17m from the European Social Fund to match new money provided by the Welsh Government, Skills Growth Wales will be re-launched with immediate effect.
The existing scheme, which supported 90 companies to train over 8,000 employees, closed to new applications at the end of March 2011, when all available funding had been committed. The extended programme will provide training support until 31 March 2015 to help a further 200 companies achieve their growth plans, supporting the creation of up to 3,000 extra jobs in
Press release & links
FSA: Food businesses approved by the Food Standards Agency are being urged to contact the Agency if they have changed operator since 1 January 2006.
FSA-approved food businesses – slaughterhouses, meat cutting plants, game handling establishments, and on farm slaughter facilities – that have changed FBO since 1 January 2006 without being subsequently approved must apply for a new approval in order to continue operating beyond 31 January 2012. To gain approval, an FBO must meet all the requirements of food hygiene and general food law regulations.
Press release & links
TfL: A support package to help freight operators & their customers continue to operate effectively during the London 2012 Games has been announced by Transport for London. At the centre of the package, known as TfL's Freight Advice Programme, are 230 free workshops aimed at businesses in Games transport 'hot spot' areas which receive freight deliveries, and those companies that deliver to them – See ‘Forthcoming Events’ section for more information.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) has become the first public sector customer of a new ‘on-demand’ service from Ordnance Survey. The OS OnDemand Web Map Tile Service (WMTS-like) will enable SYFR to utilise a single web based view of their geographic location data across a range of systems & platforms from fire incident data to the location of fire hydrants to improve the accessibility of its operational information.
By linking the OS OnDemand WMTS-like service to back office and web based applications, SYFR will have a single, easy to access view of their own location data plotted on Ordnance Survey maps, and available for staff to view over the intranet. SYFR also intend to develop the tool to plot actual incidents against other datasets such as community safety activity to inform future prevention work.
Press release ~ OS OnDemand WMTS-like service
STFC: Landmark technology that could revolutionise cancer therapy and pave the way for cleaner, safer nuclear reactors in the future, has been published in Nature Physics. The pioneering EMMA (Electron Model for Many Applications) accelerator is a prototype for a brand new type of particle accelerator that will massively impact fundamental science by changing the way such accelerators across the world are designed & built in the future.
The paper reports the first experimental results from EMMA, confirming the proof of principle underlying its technology.
Press release & links
MoD: The DataMan geographic system, developed by the MOD's Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation (JAGO), has been recognised as one of 2011's top 5 programmes & innovations in the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) community.
DataMan is connected to the military's secure network in
and delivers a common geospatial picture via a secure online browser called GeoViewer. It brings together a huge range of otherwise disparate data from multiple sources, the common factor being location. It also delivers geospatial information directly into other Command and Control (C2) and Intelligence applications on the OVERTASK network.
Press release & links
ScotGov: The Scotland-wide series of public meetings about the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) kicked off again last week. For anyone who couldn’t make it to their nearest roadshow, a podcast of the presentation is now available to listen to online, together with a set of slides used at the meetings.
The roadshows are designed to give members of the public an opportunity to find out more about the European CAP reform proposals. The programme of meetings continues until 1 February 2012.
Press release & links
EH: In the setting of the newly restored & planted Italian garden, Chiswick House and Gardens Trust will bring a burst of glorious colour to the winter season with the second annual Camellia Festival running from 18 February to 18 March 2012. All profits raised help to support the Trust, a registered charity dedicated to the preservation & continued enhancement of the historic
Gardens - open free to the public from dawn to dusk everyday.
Press release & links
TfL: A support package to help freight operators & their customers continue to operate effectively during the London 2012 Games has been announced by Transport for London. At the centre of the package, known as TfL's Freight Advice Programme, are 230 free workshops aimed at businesses in Games transport 'hot spot' areas which receive freight deliveries, and those companies that deliver to them.
The free workshops, which aim to attract businesses from across all sectors and will help them to plan & prepare, run from 30 January - April 2012. Around 160 sessions will be held in London and 70 will be held outside the Capital, in cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Southampton which have a significant concentration of businesses supplying
To apply for a free workshop place, businesses should visit tfl.gov.uk/2012 where there is a full list of workshop dates, times and locations. TfL is also offering free guidance & support to London's major wholesale markets: New Spitalfields, New Covent Garden, Billingsgate,
Smithfield , and Western International - with Borough Market also receiving advice.
Press release & links
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