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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

CO:  The impact of Scottish independence will be far wider than just having 2 PMs for these islands - The Cabinet Office has announced the establishment of the new Commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons.  This independent, non-partisan Commission has been asked to examine how the House of Commons deals with legislation that affects only part of the UK.
VSO:  It could make our 2011 summer riots look like a ‘peaceful shopping trip’10 years on from the end of civil war in Sierra Leone (18 January), mass youth unemployment poses a threat to the existing peace & stability in the country, international development charity VSO is warning.  Despite policies having been put in place to address youth issues, the current situation remains dire for young people in the country.

70% of the country’s youth population is unemployed or underemployed and 50% illiterate or unskilled, according to UN figures. Tensions erupted in September last year in Bo, Sierra Leone’s second largest city in the south of the country, where a political rally turned into a riot and young people reportedly ransacked some parts of the town.

The situation is not unique to Sierra Leone.  Over 75m young people were unemployed worldwide at the end of 2010, according to figures from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).  Many more in developing countries are underemployed ‘working poor’, forced to take whatever poorly-paid work they can get and subsisting below the poverty line of $2 per day.  

Later this year VSO will launch a new public campaign focusing on jobs in the developing world, with specific attention paid to the situation for young people & women.

Press release ~ VSO ~ UN Peacebuilding, Joint Response to youth employment in Sierra Leone ~ Global Employment Trends 2011: The challenge of a jobs recovery ~ Promoting Livelihood Opportunities For Rural Youth ~ Youth Microenterprise and Livelihoods:  State of the Field ~ Fostering a Global Spirit of Youth Enterprise ~ Global Youth Employment:   An Overview of Need and Interventions ~ OECD:  Youth Employment ~ TWN:  Youth unemployment at all-time high

EU News:  What would those living on $2 a day make of this issue? - Up to 50% of edible & healthy food gets wasted in EU households, supermarkets, restaurants and along the food supply chain each year, while 79m EU citizens live beneath the poverty line and 16m depend on food aid from charitable institutions.  Parliament called in a resolution adopted last Thursday for urgent measures to halve food waste by 2025 and to improve access to food for needy EU citizens.

Since food is wasted at all stages - by producers, processors, retailers, caterers and consumers, MEPs call for a co-ordinated strategy, combining EU-wide and national measures, to improve the efficiency of food supply and consumption chains sector by sector and to tackle food wastage as a matter of urgency.  If nothing is done, food wastage will grow 40% by 2020, says a study published by the Commission.
MonitorGood Practice must be spread to all NHS Hospital Trusts - A new briefing looks at the evidence from Cost Improvement Plans (CIPs) across the NHS to identify important lessons and provide examples of how NHS trusts & foundation trusts can use CIPs to deliver lasting benefits for their patients & service users.  CIP is the term widely used in NHS to describe schemes to make efficiency savings & improvements in productivity.

The joint report by Monitor and the Audit Commission found a significant variation in the approach & success of CIPs across different organisations.  The evidence suggests that a successful CIP is not simply a scheme that saves money; it includes a long-term plan to improve patient care, satisfaction & safety.  

Some of the more straightforward CIP schemes, such as vacancy freezes and a cut in use of agency staff for example, have already been carried out in most organisations.   Now a more strategic approach is needed.
DSTLWe need some clever & cheaper solutions - The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is calling for universities & laboratories to submit research ideas to its latest PhD funding programme as part of the UKFrance defence partnership.
OC:  Providing hope & a future for those who didn’t succeed at school - As the UK's largest festival of learning, Adult Learners' Week (12-18 May) is the perfect opportunity to celebrate people who have transformed their lives for the better, and who can inspire others to give learning a go.  

The Adult Learners' Week Awards ceremony will take place in May 2012 and you can nominate someone you know to receive an Outstanding Individual Learner award simply by filling out the nomination form online.  Nominations are only open until 5pm on Friday 27January 2012 so don't delay - let your learners know how amazing you think they are!

Forthcoming Spotlight on…Special Reports – We Want Your Thoughts and Ideas! - In our constant effort to bring you the latest news, views and opinion on all the important and "hot" issues that affect government business today, we are now working up a schedule for our Special Report series, Spotlight on… and we want you to assist us in this regard.

The aim of the Spotlight on… series is to offer a comprehensive overview of a particular subject, drawing on the expertise of the most authoritative people – from government, academia and the private sector – and to provide a balanced yet thought-provoking analysis of the subject. This not only includes in-depth articles and thought pieces, but also best practice case studies.

Following the success of our last special report: Spotlight on Lean in the Public Sector we’ve had very healthy feedback from some of you as to what should be the focus of our next Spotlight on….

Suggested topics received at this stage include:

* Outplacement and headcount reduction

* Risk management and the fight against fraud

* Outsourcing and shared services

* Social media and community engagement.

We at Wired-GOV are keen to hear from you, our subscribers and readers, as to which of the above (or other public sector management topics?) on which we should focus.

Please email with your thoughts and ideas and if you missed our Spotlight on Lean in the Public Sector, simply click here

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

General News

IPCC:  IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) Commissioner Mike Franklin, who leads on Stop & Search for the IPCC has issued a statement.

Press release & links

MoD:  The Royal Military School of Music (RMSM) at Kneller Hall is where musicians learn about life in an Army band and it owes its creation to an unintentional yet highly embarrassing public affront to Queen Victoria .

Press release & links

TKF:  Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, Chris Ham, has responded to the Public Accounts Committee’s report on achievement of foundation trust status by NHS hospital trusts. 
Press release & links

MoD:  The Armed Forces have announced the fields from which they will select those to be made redundant in Tranche 2 of the Armed Forces Redundancy Programme.

Press release & links

MoD:  Training facilities for troops and the quality of life for residents have improved thanks to the work of the Middlewick Stakeholders Group, which came together in 2009 to tackle problems of vandalism on the firing range, which required costly repairs and denied troops use of the facility.  The illegal riding of motorbikes across the ranges also posed a hazard to walkers enjoying access to the land and a noise nuisance to neighbouring residents.

Press release & links

MoD:  A team of tri-Service regular, reservist & international medics have spent the last few days taking part in an intense training exercise for their upcoming deployment to .  The exercise at Towthorpe Lines, Strensall, was designed to pull together over a year's worth of build-up planning for a 3-month operational tour of duty in .

Press release & links

FSA:  Morrisons is recalling all batches of certain smoked mackerel fillet products.  Due to a processing error, some may be undercooked.  If you have bought any of the products don’t eat them.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.

Press release & links

FSA:  Snacks has recalled Giants ‘Just Fruit’ mixed dried fruits because of incorrect allergy information. The affected products, with a ‘best before’ date of July 2012, contain sulphur dioxide not mentioned on the label.  If you’re sensitive to sulphites don’t eat this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.

Press release & links

MoD:  The British Army's radio service has embarked on a major promotion of listening to radio via the internet for 2012.  Garrison FM has joined with the BBC & commercial radio for an initiative called Radioplayer, aimed at making all radio services available in one place.

Press release & links

STFC:  The pioneering Dark Sky Discovery initiative (led by STFC) is inviting the public to nominate the best local stargazing spots to join a growing national network of sites.  Millions of viewers recently saw 6 new Dark Sky Discovery Sites being unveiled on 'Stargazing LIVE', the BBC Two astronomy show. 

The initiative also made a nationwide appeal on Stargazing Live - especially to community groups, open space organisations, schools & local astronomy clubs - to nominate the best stargazing spot in their local area.

Press release & links

DCMS:  The Art Fund and the Crafts Council have launched this year’s £75,000 Art Fund Collect scheme, which aims to boost public collections with craft.  Curators from museums & galleries across the country are being invited to apply for exclusive preview access to COLLECT, Europe ’s leading art fair for contemporary objects, in order to select one work they would like for their museum.  

Curators have until 14 March 2012 to submit their applications to take part.  The shortlist, compiled by the judging panel, will be announced in April 2012.

Press release & links

TfL:  Detailed research from Transport for London (TfL) shows pedestrians feel safer & less rushed using the new Pedestrian Countdown technology system, which will be rolled out across the Capital from summer 2012.  The system reduces confusion & uncertainty for pedestrians by displaying how long they have left to cross the road ‘when the green man goes out’. 

The digital displays count down the time between the green man symbol going out and the red man appearing.  By replacing the blackout period with a numerical counter, pedestrians are able to better judge whether they have enough time to cross the road reducing uncertainty and helps them to make more informed choices.

Press release & links

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DCMS:  A new approach to film education in British schools and financial incentives to encourage early collaboration between producers & distributors are among the recommendations of a report published recently.

Press release & links

DfE:  Ministers have published new arrangements for teacher & head teacher appraisals in maintained schools in , and for dealing with underperforming teachers.

Press release & links

CLG:  Elected city mayors will have their own bespoke powers tailored to local needs, Minister for Cities Greg Clark announced last week.  Rather than seeking to impose a 'one size fits all' approach, the Government will take advantage of the new power in the Localism Act to devolve power to mayors through negotiating a bespoke city deal with each city.

Press release & links

CLG:  Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Communities Minister Andrew Stunell have called on councils to use every opportunity under the New Deal for Older People to give elderly people more choice & control over where they live, so they are not pressured to sell their home or move into residential care.

Mr Shapps said councils should learn from the Government-backed FreeSpace project piloted by the London Borough of Redbridge, where elderly homeowners will be helped to downsize to rented accommodation that better suits their needs, but without requiring them to sell their home.

Press release & links

Ofsted:  Ahead of a government summit on ‘coasting schools’ to be held at Downing Street later, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, confirmed his intention to scrap the ‘satisfactory’ judgment for school inspections.

The proposals, which will be subject to consultation, would mean that any school that does not provide a good standard of education will be given a new ‘requires improvement’ grade.  No schools will be allowed to remain in this new category for more than 3 years.

Press release & links

DWP:  Local authority & housing association partnerships were named last week as the successful volunteers the Government plans to work with on pioneering demonstration projects that will see claimants in the social rented sector directly receiving monthly housing benefit payments and paying rent to landlords themselves for the first time. 

The demonstration projects, which will take place from June 2012 until June 2013, will test how claimants can manage housing benefit monthly payments ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit from October 2013.  The projects will also look at the appropriate level of safeguards needed to help secure landlord income streams if tenants fall behind on their rent.

Press release

ScotGov:  Details of a £50m fund to promote sustainable transport over the next 4 years have been announced.  Transport Minister Keith Brown recently met with pupils at Wardie Primary School in Edinburgh who are currently taking part in a Sustrans’ I-bike project, one of a range of initiatives which will benefit from this funding. 

An announcement will be made early in 2013 about the allocation of an additional £18.75m in 2014/15 which will continue the development of these areas of low-carbon investment. The total budget available to the Fund will be £20.25 million in 2015/16.

Press release & links

DfE:  Thousands of primary schools have already signed up to spend more than £7.7m on new phonics products & training to drive up their pupils’ standards of reading, new Department for Education figures show.

Press release & links


Defra:  Hefty fines that punish people for putting rubbish in the wrong bin will be consigned to the scrap heap under plans set out by Defra last week.  A consultation (closes on 9 March 2012) has been launched to stop councils imposing ‘bin fines’ of up to £1,000 on households that overfill their bins or accidentally leave their rubbish out on the wrong day.

Press release & links ~ Related CLG press release & links

DH:  The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been asked to lead a public discussion to ask if a new scientific procedure, which could prevent women with mitochondrial disease from passing the illness to their children, should be introduced.  This will be launched later this year and the findings published towards the end of 2012.

The condition affects approximately one in 5,000 adults. One in 6,500 babies are born with a severe form of the disease that can lead to death in early infancy.  There is no cure.

Press release & links

WAG:  The Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths, is urging the Welsh public to make their mark before the organ donation consultation closes (on 31 January 2012).  At the end of last year, the Welsh Government asked for views on the way people give consent to organ donation after death.

The consultation proposed a change to the current system, moving towards a soft opt-out approach.   This means that unless someone registers a wish not to be a donor, they will be treated as though they have no objection.  However, it is important to emphasise that families will be involved in the decision to donate after death.

Press release ~ Proposals for Legislation on organ and tissue donation: A Welsh Government White Paper

EU News:  The European Commission has launched a Europe-wide public debate on corporate restructuring & anticipating change (consultation closes on 30 March 2012).  The aim is to identify successful practices & policies in the field of restructuring and adapting to change.  

The results will feed into the upcoming employment package and should help to improve further cooperation between workers & employers' representatives, government, local & regional authorities and the EU institutions.

Press release & links

HO:  A public online consultation (closes on 10 April 2012) has been launched, asking for views on the implementation of 2 new powers designed to help communities deal with problems associated with late night drinking.  The measures, contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 are due to be introduced in the autumn 2012. 
Press release & links

EU News:  Last week the European Commission launched an on-line public consultation on possible measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

 All interested stakeholders can send their contributions until 12 April 2012.  International maritime transport emissions already account for approximately 3% of global CO2 emissions and they are expected to more than double by 2050 if no additional action is taken.

Press release & links

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

FRC:  The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has published an Update for Directors of Listed Companies in the UK to assist them in responding to increased country & currency risk in their annual & half-yearly financial reports.  The Update was prompted by the current economic uncertainties facing a number of countries around the world.

The Update is designed to be relevant to annual & half-yearly financial reports issued by companies in the listed on a regulated market in the coming months. It aims to draw together Directors’ attention to some of the more significant issues they may need to consider in order to provide a balanced & understandable assessment of the company’s position and prospects in the context of increased country and currency risk.

Press release & links

BHF:  New national guidelines to help nurseries & childminders provide healthy meals for young children have been unveiled by the School Food Trust.  The charity’s ‘Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in ’ is aimed at helping ensure healthy food in childcare venues for the under-fives to help reduce diet-related problems like childhood obesity.

It provides childcare providers with a nationally-recognised source of information about food they should offer children, portion sizes and sample menus.  Victoria Taylor, British Heart Foundation Senior Dietitian, said: “More than a fifth of children turn up to their first day at school overweight or obese and that has to change”.
Press release & links

NICE:  Thousands more nurses & healthcare assistants are following the NICE venous thromboembolism (VTE) guidelines, following a drive by the Royal College of Nursing to raise awareness of the ‘silent killer’.  It is estimated that 25,000 people who are admitted to hospital die from preventable VTE every year, leading the Department of Health to make prevention a priority across the NHS for the forthcoming years.

In order to improve adherence to the NICE VTE guideline, the RCN developed a free & interactive e-learning module, focusing on the practical aspects of blood clot prevention.  It aims to encourage nursing staff to routinely assess patients for their VTE risk, to routinely educate patients about VTE prevention, and to increase the number of nursing staff correctly fitting preventative devices such as anti-embolism stockings.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  The new Scottish Energy and Resource Efficiency Service (SERES) web portal, which streamlines existing support & advice programmes, is now available.  This virtual service will provide more consistent & comprehensive advice through a single enquiry point & improve cross-referral between agencies.

The Scottish Government also intend to establish a new integrated Business Resource & Energy Efficiency Service from 2013.  This new service will integrate the support currently provided by Carbon Trust, Energy Saving Trust and Zero Waste Scotland to Scottish businesses & public sector organisations.

Press release & links

LGA:  A new programme to help councils make further efficiency savings in adult social care is set to save more than £50m, council leaders have announced recently.  The Local Government Association's ‘Adult Social Care Efficiency programme' will help town halls examine the services they provide to the elderly & most vulnerable members of society and identify where they can further improve efficiency and productivity.

Press release & links

Monitor:  A new briefing looks at the evidence from Cost Improvement Plans (CIPs) across the NHS to identify important lessons and provide examples of how NHS trusts & foundation trusts can use CIPs to deliver lasting benefits for their patients and service users – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Annual Reports

HA: The Highways Agency is highlighting the important role that sustainable development plays in helping to move society towards a low carbon future with the publication of their Sustainable Development Plan, which seeks to make sustainable development central to the way the Agency and its partners operate.
For example, an innovative waste & materials procurement strategy developed on the M25 widening scheme between junctions 16 & 23 resulted in over £15m being saved by recycling over 70% of waste produced on site and finding new uses for imported waste materials.
FOS: The independent review into the Financial Ombudsman Service by the National Audit Office (NAO) has been published in full.  The review follows a 6 months' assessment by the NAO of the efficiency of the ombudsman service's operations.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has started the regular publication of audit reports of approved meat plants in England, Scotland & Wales. This marks the beginning of routine publication of these reports, in line with the FSA's commitment to transparency. More than 200 audit reports were published last week. These cover all audits that have been completed since 1 November 2011.  From now on, audit reports will be issued at the end of each month (about 200 each month).
ASShetland Islands Council has made good progress in implementing its improvement plan.  However aspects of financial management continue to be of significant concern.   The Commission has issued its findings in response to a report by the Controller of Audit at Audit Scotland.
NIESR: Last week saw the launch of the EUROFRAME Group’s latest report giving GDP and inflation projections for the euro area to 2013. The report also contains projections of key economic variables for the major EU countries.

General Reports and Other Publications

ESRC: Preparing to act in a particular way can improve the way we process information, and this has potential implications for those with learning disabilities. Researchers funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) have shown that using a grabbing action with our hands can help our processing of visual information.
This might help to improve the communication skills of children with complex physical & mental special needs. The first problem in assisting such children is assessing what they understand about the world, when they have no reliable means of communicating.  They may not be able to speak and may have limited physical capabilities.
NICE: The NHS Future Forum wants the NHS to help its workforce of 1.4 million to live healthily and spread healthy messages with family, friends & patients. Last year, the first ever audit within the NHS of NICE's public health guidance for the workplace revealed that not enough is being done to encourage staff to improve their health.
In their second report to the health secretary Andrew Lansley, the Future Forum recommend that NHS organisations, in partnership with their staff, design & implement a strategy for improving staff mental and physical health & wellbeing.
CEBR: New Centre for Economics and Business Research forecasts indicate that the economy is probably already in recession with negative GDP growth in Q4 2011 & Q1 2012. Inflation is forecast to fall to 1.7% by Q4 2012 and to remain around 2% thereafter despite rising commodity prices and a weak pound.
PC&PE: The Treasury Committee has recently published a report into the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) containing a number of recommendations for the Government's consideration ahead of the drafting & publication of the Financial Services Bill early in 2012.
TUC: If the UK is to end its over reliance on financial services a renaissance in manufacturing needs to take place, and ministers who want to re-balance the economy could learn much from the German approach to industry, says a new report published by the TUC.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its report on the Preparations for the roll-out of Smart Meters.  The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: "The idea of smart electricity and gas meters is a good one, but the programme to install 53 million of them in all homes and small businesses in the country by 2019, at an estimated cost of £11.7bn, is both challenging & subject to significant uncertainty.
Consumers will benefit from smart meters only if they understand the opportunity to reduce their energy bills and change their behaviour.  So far the evidence on whether they will do so has been inconclusive.  Otherwise, the only people who will benefit are the energy suppliers’.
iea: New research released recently shows the government’s strategy of measuring & explicitly promoting happiness over other objectives is counter-productive and a waste of money. The report, ‘…and the Pursuit of Happiness: Wellbeing and the Role of Government’, examines the flaws in attempts to measure happiness. Press release & links
IPPRIPPR North analysis of ONS employment figures has found that in some areas there are 20 job seekers chasing every job vacancy.  IPPR North argues that the Government should extend the new ‘youth contract’ to ensure a ‘jobs guarantee’ for everyone unemployed for more than a year in the areas hardest hit.
The analysis found that the national average of job seekers to job vacancies is 4.  Areas with one or fewer job seekers for each vacancy are Crawley, Cambridge, South Bucks, North Warwickshire, Harborough, Daventry, City of London.
WAG: An independent report contains a number of ‘significant & bold’ recommendations for the Welsh Government to support the sustainable growth of micro businesses in Wales. They include a call for the introduction of a network of 'One Stop Shops' for micro-businesses, the creation of a pan-Wales mentoring and coaching scheme and cutting red tape which is overwhelming micro businesses.
CBI: There are a number of challenges the Government must tackle if the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) are to deliver cost-effective emissions reductions and drive private sector growth, the CBI said recently.
In its response to the Government’s consultation on The Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation, the UK’s leading business group said making the Green Deal as consumer-friendly as possible will be critical to its success, especially at a time when household budgets are tight.
CSPL: The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published its response to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority's review of the expenses scheme for Members of Parliament.
CH: An EU embargo would put the population solidly behind the current regime and cannot succeed on its own, says a new Chatham House paper - An Embargo on Iranian Crude Oil Exports: How Likely and with What Impact?
PC&PE: MPs have called on the insurance industry to abandon sharp practices in the management of car accident claims to curb the runaway cost of motor insurance premiums.  The cross party Transport Committee has also called for the Government to impose a higher threshold for the payment of any compensation in whiplash cases.
In a report that follows up the Government’s response to the committee's March 2011 report on the cost of motor insurance, the Transport Committee warns that the spiralling cost of motor insurance is primarily the result of market dysfunction and, in particular, the escalation of uncontested claims for whiplash injury.
RUSI: Both India & the UK will likely make long-term funding commitments in Afghanistan beyond 2014, with the UK alone contributing some US$150m annually for development and a further US$100m for supporting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) after the NATO drawdown, according to a new report published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
PC&PE: The Commons Home Affairs Committee has published its report into UK border controls.  
WWF: Responding to the new Policy Exchange report (The Full Cost to Households of Renewable Energy Policies) WWF said recently that the think-tank is ignoring the benefits renewables could bring and is advocating a risky reliance on market mechanisms.
WWF: A new report revealing the massive amounts of global coal reserves listed on the London Stock Exchange has been described as the next sub-prime crisis facing the City. The report, by Carbon Tracker  (supported by WWF-UK), shows that the London Stock Exchange has accumulated the equivalent of 400 times the UK’s total annual CO2 emissions from coal, or 44.56 GtCO2.
It argues that through pension plans & savings, UK investors are exposed to significant risk as coal, the most carbon-intensive of all fossil fuels, faces tightening emissions regulations around the world.
PC&PE: MPs have warned the Government to ensure that the viability of smaller airports is not put at risk by the costs of new public information requirements & security changes proposed in the draft Civil Aviation Bill.
IPPR: New research from the think tank Institute for Public Policy Research reveals that the Government is planning to use credit rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch to assess public & private providers of NHS services.
IPPR warns of a potential conflict of interest & highlights the poor track record that credit rating agencies have in identifying risk, having rated Lehman Brothers as’ investment-worthy’ on the morning of its collapse.
LGARoyal street party fever looks set to sweep the nation again this summer as revellers start planning their Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Based on the current groundswell of public interest, it's expected the number of street parties held over the June weekend, which also includes the annual Big Lunch, will surpass last year's total for the Royal Wedding.
The official Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations take place from Saturday 2 June to Tuesday 5 June 2012. The annual Big Lunch is being held on the Sunday 3 June.
CCfE: The Landing in Dover report issued recently by Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England uncovered the `Gentleman's Agreement' between the UK & France which conflicted with the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) duty to safeguard children & promote their welfare.

It also uncovered excessive periods of detention prior to release into local authority care due to the number & length of immigration interviews undertaken at the point of arrival.  The report has already led to changes in the way UKBA treats children seeking asylum.
PC&PE: The House of Commons Public Administration Committee (PASC) has warned that the new arrangements implemented at the top of the Civil Service on the retirement of Sir Gus O’Donnell "could lead to weaker leadership and disperse power at a critical time of change in government" and that they will not succeed unless ministers, and particularly the Prime Minister, accords the 2 roles equal power & status. 
They must both attend Cabinet on equal terms and both must have access to the Prime Minister and the authority "to speak truth unto power". The risk of unequal status & differential access to the Prime Minister under the new arrangements has prompted the Committee to demand a full review of the new structure by July 2012.

Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: Legislation to complete a programme of property law reform in Scotland was published recently. The Long Leases (Scotland) Bill will bring an end to ultra-long leases (let for more than 175 years and with more than 100 years to run) by converting them to ownership. The Scottish Government estimates that there are around 9,000 ultra-long leases in Scotland.  Two thirds of ultra-long leases have annual rents of £5 or less.
The Bill forms part of a programme of property law reform put forward by the Scottish Law Commission.  This included the reform of feudal tenure through the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc (Scotland) Act 2000.
SGC: Following a 3 month period of training & implementation the definitive guideline on burglary offences came into effect on 16 January 2012.
HO: New proposals will allow taxi licensing authorities to carry out enhanced criminal records checks on their drivers before they are issued with a licence.  Current drivers will get additional checks when they renew their licence.
The proposed changes are part of plans to simplify & reform the system of criminal records checks, while ensuring adequate protections are in place where they are needed most. Changes will be made by secondary legislation as soon as practicable.
ScotGovSingle police and fire & rescue services in Scotland will bring local services to the heart of communities, the Justice Secretary said last week. There will be designated local senior officers at the centre of a new, strong relationship between councils and the services, and a statutory duty to provide adequate local police and fire services.  The services will be independent, with no operational control by Ministers, but subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.
PC&PE: The law on ‘joint enterprise’ is so confusing for juries & courts alike that legislation is needed to ensure justice for both victims and defendants and end the high number of cases reaching the Court of Appeal, MPs on the Justice Committee have warned in a new report.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News:  Full implementation of EU waste legislation would ‘save €72 billion a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by €42 billion and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020’ according to a European Commission study published last week. 

The underlying problem is that too many prices do not reflect the true cost of disposal of goods – if they did, this would help prevent waste in the first place.  In addition, many Member States still lack adequate infrastructure for separate collection, recycling and recovery. An absence of systematic control and enforcement mechanisms is another hindrance, coupled with a lack of reliable data on waste management.

Press release & links

EU News:  Doing business in more than one Member State often means dealing with several tax administrations in different languages.  Dealing with multiple VAT obligations can be very burdensome & costly for companies. The proposal adopted last week is a first step towards a One Stop Shop for all electronically delivered services that will benefit businesses as from 1 January 2015

As set out in last December's Commission Communication on the future of VAT (see IP/11/1508), the One Stop Shop approach for EU trade across borders will be applied first to e-commerce, broadcasting and telecom services.  In the future the Commission will seek to extend the One Stop Shop step by step to other goods and services.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has adopted a new 4-year strategy (2012-2015) that aims to further improve the welfare of animals in the European Union.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has launched a Europe-wide public debate on corporate restructuring and anticipating change (consultation closes on 30 March 2012).  The aim is to identify successful practices and policies in the field of restructuring and adapting to change – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

EU News:  Last week the European Commission launched an on-line public consultation on possible measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. All interested stakeholders can send their contributions until 12 April 2012 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CLG: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles recently announced that throughout 2012, faith communities will lead a series of volunteering days encouraging communities to come together to help improve their local neighbourhoods.
Recognising the role of faith in inspiring charitable work, the CLG is supporting a Year of Service.  During the course of 2012, 9 faith communities will in turn hold volunteering days, inviting people of other faiths and people of non-religious beliefs to join in.  

Each of the days will focus on a different social action theme, such as 'community clean ups', planting trees in a local park, or cooking lunches and could be based around an existing religious festival like Lent or the Sikh festival commemorating the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, or an existing volunteering day such as the Jewish-led Mitzvah Day or the Hindu-led National Sewa Day. 
RoSPA:  A popular campaign has helped more than 12,000 families in Scotland to cut the risk of toddlers being accidentally strangled in their home by blind cords. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is aware of at least 20 children dying in blind cord accidents in the UK since 1999 (with 9 occurring since the beginning of 2010).  
RoSPA’s own research indicates that most accidental blind cord deaths happen in a bedroom, involving children aged between 16 and 36 months.  RoSPA advises people buying new blinds to look for designs that don’t have cords or chains.  It also advises parents & carers not to put a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window.
PC&PE: While private foundations make a huge contribution, concerns have been raised about the transparency & accountability, according to a new report by MPs on the International Development Committee. Foundations should sign up to International Aid Transparency Initiative guidelines and be brought into global structures to ensure that they coordinate their work with other donors.
BHF: New national guidelines to help nurseries & childminders provide healthy meals for young children have been unveiled by the School Food Trust. Victoria Taylor, British Heart Foundation Senior Dietitian, said: “More than a fifth of children turn up to their first day at school overweight or obese and that has to change” – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.

Business and Other Briefings

DfTVan buyers will be able to receive 20% - up to £8,000 - off the cost of a plug-in van, Transport Minister Norman Baker and Business Minister Mark Prisk announced last week.   This is an extension of the Plug-In Car Grant which offers 25% - up to £5000 – to motorists buying a new plug-in car.  Ministers have also re-confirmed there is funding secured for this grant until 2015.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), has published an Update for Directors of Listed Companies in the UK to assist them in responding to increased country & currency risk in their annual and half-yearly financial reports – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.

Industry News

DECC:  Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has announced the first 82 local energy projects to win funding from the new £10m Local Energy Assessment Fund.  Winning bids include opening show homes to demonstrate solid wall insulation to the public, schemes to check the energy efficiency of homes and invest in renewable energy, and events to promote the uptake of energy efficiency in local communities.

Organisations including parish councils, voluntary associations, development trusts and faith groups are all eligible to apply for LEAF funding Around 200 projects are expected to benefit in total and there is still time to apply – the second round will close to applications at noon on 20 January 2012 with successful communities notified at the end January.

Press release & links

WAG:  Business Minister Edwina Hart has welcomed news that Hunter Flying Ltd – which oversees the maintenance & operation of the largest private collection of classic aircraft of its kind in the world - is moving its operation to St Athan.

Hunter Flying has taken a 10 year lease on 2 hangars on the Welsh Government’s Aerospace Business Park in St Athan which is within the preferred location for an enterprise park for the aerospace sector.  It is the first commercial letting since the MoD’s decision in July last year to move the proposed Defence Technical College to RAF Lyneham.

Hunter Flying restores & operates ex-military aircraft for airshows, jet training for pilots and leisure flying. It currently oversees the maintenance & operation of what is the largest private collection in the world of Hawker Hunters, Jet Provost, Strikemaster, Yak 50 and 52.

Press release & links

BIS:  A project to ensure the is well positioned for the commercial roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles has been launched, Business Minister Mark Prisk has announced.  The new programme – UKH2Mobility – will evaluate the potential for hydrogen as a fuel for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles in the before developing an action plan for an anticipated roll-out to consumers in 2014/15.

Press release & links

TfL:  Transport for London (TfL) has awarded its cleaning contract for Victoria Coach Station and dozens of bus stations and bus stands to ISS Facility Services in an agreement that will deliver high levels of cleanliness & hygiene as well as deliver environmental benefits for the Capital.

Press release & links

ESRC:  Building relationships, raising the profile of social science research and identifying opportunities for collaboration will be the main focus of a new Retail Knowledge Navigator Team Working with the retail sector is a key priority for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) who are delighted to announce the appointment of Nottingham Business School as Retail Knowledge Navigators

Press release & links

STFC:  Cobalt Light Systems has received European approval for its revolutionary INSIGHT100 bottle scanner, which enables aircraft passengers to carry liquid items larger than 100ml once more.  Airports could now allow passengers to take items such as water, cosmetics, perfumes and duty free through airport security channels from as early as 2013

The current ban on items over 100ml in hand baggage can only be lifted when airports are able to effectively screen quickly and without opening the containers.  INSIGHT100 screens individual bottles in less than 5 seconds to determine whether there is a security threat.

Press release & links

Forthcoming Event

STFC:  The pioneering Dark Sky Discovery initiative is helping the UK go stargazing crazy with BBC Two’s ‘Stargazing LIVE’ return to our screens.  Led by the Science & Technology Facilities Council (and funded by the Big Lottery Fund through Natural ’s Access to Nature scheme), Dark Sky Discovery partners will be running many of the events coinciding with ‘Stargazing LIVE’ to create a nationwide celebration of the wonders of astronomy. 

A range of Stargazing LIVE activities (see links for full list) are being held throughout January 2012 to encourage people to sample the fun & excitement of stargazing, with Dark Sky Discovery partners again playing a prominent role.

12 Dark Sky Discovery Sites (see links for full list) have already been unveiled in England, Wales & Scotland - illustrating the range of great local spots that people can use for stargazing and inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to come together in their local area to enjoy the night sky in a radically new way.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  First Minister Alex Salmond has invited a gathering of the world's most talented innovators to visit to see the world-class energy research being undertaken here.  The First Minister extended the invitation to attend the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference during an address to the World's Young Future Energy Leaders at a major international conference in Abu Dhabi . 

The Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference, which will take place in October 2012 in Edinburgh, brings together government, finance, utilities & developers to engage directly on the opportunities & challenges presented by the global shift to low carbon economies.  

Press release & links ~ Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce  (details of conference will appear on their website shortly)

ACE:  Booking is now open for January & February's Building digital capacity for the arts workshops, with more workshops being announced later in the year.  Further workshops will also be running across the country throughout the year. To find out more about the Building digital capacity for the arts programme, register and to view content from past events, visit Art Council England’s dedicated minisite.

Press release & links

EH:  English Heritage and Bristol City Council are holding a joint conference entitled Localism and Heritage: Working Together to explore what localism means for heritage.  

The conference is on Wednesday 7 March 2012 at the Bristol City Conference Hall and is aimed at community groups, local amenity societies, elected members, local government and private sector conservation, design & planning professionals and any individuals involved in planning & managing change in the historic environment in the South West.

Press release & links

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