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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

TUC:  Could a ‘worker representative’ help protect the interests of small shareholders? - As ministers talk tough on top pay as bank bonus season gets underway, the TUC set out 5 reasons why the government should introduce worker representation onto remuneration committees as 'a way of tackling the widening pay gap between top directors and the rest of the workforce'.
DHIt is cheaper to prevent than cure - Preventing cancer, cutting tooth decay in children and the population weighing less, are just some of the challenges local councils will be able to track their progress against when they take over looking after the health & wellbeing of their residents, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced last week.

For the first time, public health will be measured against a framework which sets out 66 health measures so ‘councils and the Government are able to see real improvements being made and take any action needed’From April 2013, councils will be given a ring-fenced budget – a share of around £5.2bn based on 2012/13 funding – and will be able to choose how they spend it according to the needs of their population. Those who make the most improvements will be rewarded with a cash incentive.

The Health Secretary also highlighted how public health has already started to change, thanks to the Responsibility Deal.
CSJHow does one support non-working families above this level and also care for the elderly as well? - Gavin Poole, Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice, has issued the following statement: 
Plans to limit the level at which households receive benefits – to £26,000 a year – form an important part of smashing through the welfare culture that grips our poorest families and holds them back from a better future. ……

“This cap is about fairness for taxpayers and life-changing intervention for families currently receiving more than a £26,000 in benefits.  It will promote work – a household where someone works 16 hours a week or more will be not be affected – and, alongside other radical reforms like Universal Credit, it will remove a major disincentive to look for and take such work.

“Britain has been gripped by a worklessness crisis for years – the number of households where no one has ever worked doubled since 1997, and 2m children are growing up in workless households”.
Press release ~ Welfare reform: Lord Carey attacks bishops opposed to benefit cap ~ 57% of people who go through the Work Capability Assessment are found fit for some form of work ~ 21st Century Welfare: Response of the Centre for Social Justice ~ Dynamic Benefits: Towards Welfare That Works" A Policy Report by the CSJ Economic Dependency Working Group ~ Breakdown Britain: Executive Summary ~ Related previous PR ~ Housing Benefit Regulations ~ DWP:  Those that work & pay taxes don’t see why those who don’t, can’t, unless they are truly physically unable to do so (third item) ~ BBC Q&A: Universal Credit and the benefits overhaul ~ IFS:  The better off can cut back on expensive luxuries, but for the poor that is often not an option (first item) ~ AUK:  Little dignity or safety in old age for many (first item)

ScotGovThe spinning started last October - First Minister, Alex Salmond (at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh), has outlined detailed proposals for the referendum in autumn 2014 on whether Scotland should be an independent country.  The consultation will close on May 11, 2012.

The consultation paper - Your Scotland Your Referendum - seeks views on:
* what the ballot paper should say
* what spending limits should be set
* how the referendum should be managed / regulated
Press release ~ Your Scotland Your Voice ~ First Minister: London speech on independence ~ More information on the referendum ~ Timetable for consideration of proposals ~ Professor Robert Cialdini: Scottish independence question 'is loaded' ~ Guardian: Scottish referendum - is the SNP's question fair? ~ UK Government consultation on constitution (closes on Friday 9 March 2012) ~ Alex Salmond apologises for reading fake independence referendum letter (scroll down for related articles on Scottish energy and regarding euro / EU membership) ~ Scottish renewables targets could worsen fuel poverty, say engineers ~ See also:  CO:  The impact of Scottish independence will be far wider than just having 2 PMs for these islands ~ ScotGov:  Will the Scots pay back the rest of the UK for rescuing their banks?

DfTSomething for Tory MPs in the Chilterns to ponder on - The Department of Transport has published a document which provides an update to the appraisal of the key Strategic Rail Alternatives to the HS2 proposition.  The report outlines the appraisal of the alternatives being considered.  It summarises the interventions developed, examines the Capital & Operating Costs, and then details the Economic Appraisal of the Alternatives.
PC&PEA simple change that wouldn’t mean more government borrowing - The House of Lords Constitution Committee has published a short report on the position of voters at the close of polls which calls on the Government to change the law to ensure voters are not disenfranchised, as some were at the 2010 General Election.

Commenting Baroness Jay, Chairman of the Committee, said: “This cannot wait for a Law Commission review that doesn’t report until 2017, the Government should make these changes before the next general election."
EU NewsTime to review our electronic rights - The European Commission has proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU's 1995 data protection rules to ‘strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe's digital economy’.  A single law will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administrative burdens, leading to savings for businesses of around €2.3 billion a year.

The Commission's proposals include a policy Communication setting out the Commission's objectives and 2 legislative proposals, a:
* Regulation setting out a general EU framework for data protection
* Directive on protecting personal data processed for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences and related judicial activities

Forthcoming event: Gartner CIO Leadership Forum 2012 – An event for CIOs. And only CIOs  - London, 5th-7th March 2012 - Amplifying with Technology: Customer Experience, Operational Efficiency and Strategic Leadership - Great uncertainty and great turbulence will characterize 2012; the challenges for CIOs will be compounded as technology continues to deepen its impact on business, government, society and personal life. The CIO Leadership Forum on 5 - 7 March 2012 in London is the place where CIOs will find and share answers to these challenges and to fresh questions about efficiency, growth, global support, innovation, new products and emerging technologies.

The CIO Leadership Topics for 2012:

  • Creating compelling experiences for customers and citizens, driving business growth
  • Raising productivity and eliminating cost
  • Strategic leadership, organization and sourcing
  • Innovation and technology

The Forum is designed for intensive C-level peer-to-peer exchange and collaborative problem-solving — all guided by the expertise of the Gartner analyst team. It will deliver the insight you need for the future, and actionable ideas you can use today.

Click here to apply now.

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

General News

DFID:  Britain will supply more than 4 treatments every second for people in the developing world for the next 4 years as part of a global push to help eliminate infectious tropical diseases, International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien announced recently.

The pledge marks a 5-fold increase in Britain's support as part of an international effort to help rid the world of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), currently affecting 1bn people & killing more than 500,000 every year.

Press release & links

WAG:  Change4Life is sending out thousands of free recipe brochures to help people in plan & cook healthy evening meals that won’t break the bank.  Welsh Health Survey figures reveal that around a third of children are classified as overweight or obese and the Change4Life Supermeals recipe brochure has been created to provide 14 days worth of easy-to-make, healthy, inexpensive evening meals

Everyone already registered with Change4Life in will receive a Supermeals brochure through the post and anyone new who registers with Change4Life online at before Friday 10 February will also be sent the brochure. 
Press release & links

MO:  New research has found that solar output is likely to reduce over the next 90 years but that will not substantially delay expected increases in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gases.  Carried out by the Met Office and the University of Reading, the study establishes the most likely changes in the Sun’s activity and looks at how this could affect near-surface temperatures on Earth.

It found that the most likely outcome was that the Sun’s output would decrease up to 2100, but this would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08 °C. This compares to an expected warming of about 2.5 °C over the same period due to greenhouse gases (according to the IPCC’s B2 scenario for greenhouse gas emissions that does not involve efforts to mitigate emissions).

Press release & links

MoD:  The Surgeon General, Surgeon Vice Admiral Philip Raffaelli, gave a speech at the Combat Trauma Innovation Conference in London last week about the need for partnerships in delivering care to troops.

Press release & links

MoD:  A remarkable group of wounded, sick & injured Service personnel were ‘stars on the West End stage’ last weekend.  They've all suffered brutal or life-threatening injuries, but a group of servicemen & women who paid a terrible price serving in 's Armed Forces are back firmly on the road to recovery, thanks to a theatre in the West End .

'The Two Worlds of Charlie F' is a Service person's view of injury & recovery. The play explores the consequences of both physical & psychological wounds and the impact on others during the fight to win the new battle for survival at home while coming to terms with the cards that life has dealt.

Press release & links

DSA:  From last week the driving theory test will no longer use pre-published questions in a move to stop candidates from learning answers by rote.  Until now all the questions used in the driving theory test have been published. These changes will mean that learner drivers & riders gain a better understanding of driving theory, because they can no longer rely on simply learning which options are correct for individual questions.

The familiar Theory Test books & software still offer revision questions for candidates to test themselves and assess their progress.  They now also have exercises so learners can practice applying their knowledge on each topic to case studies.  There are also new sections of revision support for motorcyclists and a free e-book for car drivers.

Press release & links


New analysis published by the Trades Union Congress claims to show that ‘for every £1 spent on having union reps in public sector workplaces, up to £9 is returned in benefits to the wider economy’.  The TUC report also shows failings in figures relied on by a group calling itself the Trade Union Reform Campaign.

Far from costing taxpayers money, the report 'Facility time for union reps: separating fact from fiction' says that reps could be worth between £267m & £701m a year to our economy.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  Scotland's newest prison, due to open in March 2012, will use its modern design & facilities to impose a regime of work & rehabilitation for the 700 prisoners expected to occupy HM Prison Low Moss

It will provide 700 cells as well as facilities to allow prisoners to address their re-offending & reintegrate into the community on their release from prison.  These facilities will include a link centre where prisoners will be able to deal with matters relating to employment, housing, social work, through-care addiction service.

Press release & links

DH:  The Department of Health has published the terms of reference for 2 reviews established following the recent concerns about PIP implants.

Press release & links

HEFCE:  UnLtd, the UK ’s largest provider of support for social entrepreneurs and the Higher Education Funding Council England last week launched a further programme of support for social entrepreneurship in English universities and colleges

The initiative will help universities & colleges to develop their support structures for social entrepreneurship, making it easier for students & staff to start up a social venture and thrive within the higher education environment.  The programme aims to encourage a social entrepreneurship culture across the HE sector.

Press release & links

MO:  Following the successful Met Office weather app on iPhone, weather forecasts from the Met Office are now available for Android.  The app can be used on all android phones and includes a widget so information can be accessed directly from the dashboard.

Press release & links

Monitor:  Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, has found that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust is in significant breach of the terms of its authorisation,

Press release & links ~ Related PR re Derby Hospitals ~ Related PR re Poole Hospital

DFID:  Britain will send lifesaving emergency aid to help thousands of children facing severe hunger across the Sahel region of West Africa, Andrew Mitchell announced recently.

Press release & links

MoD:   Troops from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) have been bombarded with petrol bombs & missiles during public order training in a mock village at Lydd Ranges in Kent .  The paratroopers' training has been helping them learn how to deal with hostile crowds that they may face in their role as the British Army's Rapid Reaction Force.

Press release & links

DH:  NHS patients should be able to benefit from genomic technology which can improve the health service’s understanding of the nature of disease and mean that treatment can be tailored to patients’ individual genetic make up – providing the right treatment to the right patient.

In its report to Government on genomic technology, the Human Genomics Strategy Group, highlights the ’s achievements in genetics research to date and proposes a strategic vision to realise the future benefit of genomics.

Press release & links ~ Building on our inheritance: Genomic technology in healthcare

MoD:  Costing £130m and weighing 360 tonnes, the NATO Submarine Rescue System is one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment in the world.  For 4 days, 70 experts from 3 countries put it through its paces.   Owned by Britain, F & it is always on standby - and happily, so far, it has never been used.
Press release & links

FSA:  Iceland is recalling its frozen minced lamb because some batches may be contaminated with salmonella. The affected batches have a 'best before' date of 11 October 2012.  If you have bought the product don’t eat it.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.

Press release & links

Unite:  NHS Foundation Trust could face legal action over plans that could see staff being hundreds of pounds worse off when they use their own cars for work purposes.  Unite, the union, said plans by the trust to put health visitors, midwives, community nursery nurses, district nurses and speech & language therapists on the public transport rate assumes that NHS professionals should be using trains & buses to visit patients and clients in a predominately rural area. 

The trust has told staff that from 1 April 2012 they will be paid 24p a mile – the public transport rate – and not the current 47p a mile when they use their vehicle for work purposes. 

Press release & links

Unite:  Unite, the union (which represents health visitors, community nurses, mental health nurses & sexual health advisers), has expressed concern about the continuing delay into how the Nursery & Midwifery Council (NMC) regulates the nursing professions and provides protection to the public.  Last week the government ordered a strategic review of the NMC

Unite has long called for changes to the third part of the register to ensure better regulation for nurses & midwives who work in public health nursing, ensuring that the public is protected.  The public needs to be assured that the health professional carrying out ‘health visitor’ roles has the required qualifications that health visitors train for. 

Press release

Defra:  Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Sailing events have been given a boost after the Environment Minister Richard Benyon approved the first stretch of the Coastal Path at Weymouth Bay .

The route, which will start at Rufus Castle in Portland and will end at Lulworth Cove, will improve access to 32 kilometres of the British coastline for everyone’s enjoyment and will allow those interested in spotting the Olympic Sailing to do so as they make their way along the path.

Press release & links

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DWP: A multi-million pound Government campaign aimed at getting millions of people saving more for their retirement launched in the print press last week. The campaign comes ahead of the start of automatic enrolment into workplace pensions, beginning in October 2012 for the largest employers. It will explain the fundamentals of the reforms and signpost people to the Directgov website where they can find out more.
BIS: The latest steps in reforms to the employment tribunal system were unveiled by Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey last week with the announcement of a pilot scheme for two regional mediation networks for SMEs.
The intention to pilot two regional mediation networks was published in the Government response to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation. The pilots will run for 12 months and, if successful, the Government will consider introducing them into other areas of England, Scotland & Wales. An open tender to deliver the mediation training for prospective candidates has been published and can be found on the ‘Contracts Finder’ website.
WAG: The Welsh Government has published details of locations around Wales where it proposes to intervene to provide next generation broadband to ensure the country has the best network possible. WAG is seeking to ensure that all residential premises & businesses in Wales have access to Next Generation Broadband by 2015 and will intervene in areas where the private sector is not investing.
BIS: Foreign Secretary William Hague, joined by Universities & Science Minister David Willetts, have launched a new gateway for UK higher education institutions to build on their international success. For the first time, the HE Global Integrated Advisory Service will bring together international education advice & services from both UK government departments and partners into one central resource.
HE Global will comprise a website, email & telephone helpline which will provide a single point of contact for UK universities looking to expand abroad through Transnational Education (TNE).
DWP: An extra £20m will be made available to support separated & separating families as part of the radical overhaul of the Child Maintenance system, Ministers announced last week. It will help families work out their own arrangements, rather than trapping them in the current outdated system, which has been shown to be expensive and divisive and does not put children first.
A typical case in the CSA can cost the taxpayer around £25,000 rising to around £40,000 if enforcement action is needed.  Many parents already share the care of their children and it is estimated that if those made their own arrangements for maintenance this could save the taxpayer £45m per year.
ScotGov: Every pupil taking Higher English exams will have a guaranteed entitlement to study Scottish texts, the Scottish Government announced last week.  Marking Burns Day, Education Secretary Michael Russell signalled the Government’s intention to ensure that all pupils will answer at least one question on Scottish texts.
CLG: Cities Minister Greg Clark has announced the date for mayoral elections. Ballot boxes in the cities that say 'yes' to mayors will open on 15 November 2012, giving local people the power to decide who their first mayor should be. In May 2010, the Coalition set out its commitment to creating directly elected mayors in the 12 largest English
DCMS: Good progress is being made by most local authorities developing plans to roll out superfast broadband says Ed Vaizey. 4 more areas had their Local Broadband Plans approved, meaning 15 of the 47 projects are now ready to begin taking superfast broadband to homes and businesses in their area.


Ofsted:  Ofsted has launched a consultation (closes on 17 April 2012) for its inspection of all ‘non-association’ independent schools in England .  Changes proposed for September 2012 are intended to raise expectations for further improvement in the performance of these schools, for the benefit of children, parents and carers.

Press release & links

FSA:  The Food Standards Agency's expert Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), is consulting on an application from a company to market oil that is produced from Schizochytrium microalgae, as a novel food ingredient.

Ocean Nutrition intends to use its DHA-rich oil in the same food categories to those authorised for Martek Biosciences’ oil. These food categories include food supplements, bakery products and breakfast cereals.  Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by Monday 13 February 2012.

Press release & links

CQC:  The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is consulting on amendments to the annual fees it proposes to charge a small number of the providers it regulates.  These fees cover CQC’s work in registering providers and monitoring their compliance with government standards of safety and quality.  Members of the public, organisations affected and other stakeholders are invited to take part in the consultation online, which will close on 20 February 2012.

These further amendments proposed in this consultation will be added to those changes and, if agreed, take effect together from 1 April 2012.  The Commission will also be carrying out a more detailed consultation on its longer-term approach to fees for all providers later this year, with a view to implementing those changes in phases from 2013/14 onwards.

Press release & links ~ Take part in the consultation online

Ofgem:  Ofgem is consulting on proposals which include £2.9bn of investment with up to a further £4.7bn available over the course of the price control period (April 1 2013 – 2021). The investment is part of Ofgem’s decision for SP Transmission Ltd (SPTL) and Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd (SHETL) to be the first companies fast-tracked under the new RIIO price control framework.

Press release & links ~ Note from WGPlus Editor:  One wonders what the funding implications are if becomes independent? 

DfT:  Plans for a lorry road user charging scheme to create a fairer deal for UK hauliers have been announced by Roads Minister Mike Penning.  Most EU states charge lorries for using their roads which means that British vehicles have to pay to drive in Europe, while foreign lorries can currently drive for free in the UK.

The proposed scheme (consultation closes on 18 April 2012) will levy a time-based charge of around up to £10 a day for lorries of 12 tonnes or over using any road in the UK .  The precise level of charges will depend on exchange rate & inflation at the time of implementationlikely to be 2015.  UK-registered vehicles will most likely be compensated with a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty.

Press release & links

WAG:  In February 2011, the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, announced the intention to develop a new national programme for reviewing & learning from cases involving serious abuse or neglect of children from which child protection arrangements can be improved.  

The consultation on draft practitioner guidance for the new Child Practice Review (CPR) - Protecting Children in Wales , Arrangements for Multi-Agency Child Practice Reviews is open until 2 April 2012.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  First Minister Alex Salmond at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh has outlined detailed proposals for the referendum in autumn 2014 on whether Scotland should be an independent country - See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Defra:  Pregnant women should avoid close contact with animals that are giving birth, the Government advised recently.    Pregnant women who come into close contact with sheep during lambing may risk their own health, and that of their unborn child, from infections that can occur in some ewes.

It is also important to note that these risks are not only confined to the spring (when the majority of lambs are born), nor are the risks only associated with sheep: cows & goats that have recently given birth can also carry similar infections.

Press release & links

CLG:  As statistics show that half of all accidental house fires were caused by faulty or misused electrical equipment in 2010/11, the Fire Kills campaign is highlighting a smartphone app from the Electrical Safety Council which will help people defuse the danger in their homes.

From faulty fridges & forgotten irons, to overloaded plugs & dodgy wiring - electrical equipment can be an unnoticed fire hazard in the home.  And with the recent cold weather, many sockets could still be overloaded with additional space heaters and electric blankets.  The app helps people identify risks in their home and offers advice on resolving them.

Press release & links

DfT:  New powers to help councils cut the disruption caused by road works have been announced by Transport Minister Norman Baker.  Under ‘lane rental’ schemes councils will be able to charge utility companies up to £2,500 a day to dig up the busiest roads during peak times when road works cause the most disruption. 

Following consultation, the Department for Transport has published guidance for local authorities wanting to put lane rental schemes in place.  In order to gather evidence on the effectiveness of lane rental, the Department has proposed that schemes should initially be used in up to 3 pioneer authorities - one metropolitan area and two others - and is inviting applications from interested local authorities.

Press release & links ~ Guidance

NE:  As the current Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) draws closer to its December 2013 end date, Natural England has developed a comprehensive package of information for farmers & agents on Environmental Stewardship (ES).

The package provides comprehensive details & a timetable of how ES will be implemented through the next 2 financial years. It has been produced to equip farmers, land managers, agents & partners with a clear understanding of the key issues & deadlines for the remainder of the current RD programme. 

Press release & links

WAG:  New guidance designed to ensure school toilet facilities are of the highest standards has been published by the Welsh Government.  

The guidance is designed to inform local authorities & school governing bodies of their roles & responsibilities in ensuring that school toilets are adequate for children & young people. This includes spreading good practice on improving general toilet facilities while stressing the importance of good hygiene, particularly hand washing.

Press release & links

NICE:  New recommendations on the use of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) for the treatment of adults & children with epilepsy have been set out, in updated NICE guidelines.  The update describes how & when newer AEDs should be considered alongside older medicines, and can help GPs ensure they are prescribing treatments that are effective both clinically and cost effective.

Press release & links

NICE:  4 new generation cardiac computed tomography (CT) scanners can now be used by the NHS to help diagnose & manage patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) who are difficult to image, says NICE.


NICE has approved the use of the new generation CT scanners because they have a number of advantages over the older type CT scanners for people with CAD in whom imaging is difficult, allowing them to produce better images and in a shorter period of time, within one or two heartbeats

Press release & links

BIG:  The Big Lottery Fund has published 7 good practice guides for organisations working with young people.  The new downloadable publications share learning & practical examples from projects supported by the Young People’s Fund – See ‘Charities / Voluntary Organisations / Third Sector’ section for more information.

SGC:  The Sentencing Council has published a new guideline for judges & magistrates on the sentencing of drug offences, which will come into effect on 27 February 2012 – See ‘Legislation / Legal’ section for more information. 

Annual Reports

DWP:  The Government has published the first detailed research tracking the country of origin of benefit claimants currently in the UK  who were overseas nationals when the entered the country.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  The results of Scotland's Global Connections Survey 2010 were released last week by Scotland's Chief Statistician.

Press release & links

CQC:  The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a further 12 reports from a targeted programme of 150 unannounced inspections of hospitals & care homes that care for people with learning disabilities.

Press release & links

BIS:  The Government has published its annual grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for (HEFCE).

Press release & links

General Reports and Other Publications

NAO: Plans to reorganize central government will bring a range of functions currently at arm’s length closer to ministers, according to the National Audit Office.  Moreover, the Cabinet Office and departments are on course to deliver cost reductions extending beyond the Spending Review period.  
However, a recent report raises concerns that government departments do not have a good enough grasp of the ongoing costs of functions being transferred to other parts of government or of the one-off transitional costs of the changes.
NAO: The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced the Work Programme quickly, in just over a year, and this has had benefits, but the speed with which it was launched has also increased risks, according to the National Audit Office.  

The Department & providers have made assumptions about how many people the Programme will get back into work but there is a significant risk that they are over-optimistic.
The report also points out that no alternatives to the Programme were considered as part of the business case, nor was it piloted to test assumptions.
PC&PE: The Treasury Committee has published a report on the Court of the Bank of England's memorandum, published earlier this week, which responded to the Committee’s ‘Accountability of the Bank of England’ report of November 2011.
LGA: The challenging housing situation in the country will be improved if councils have greater involvement, according to a new report from the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA).
The report, entitled ‘Meeting local housing demand', lays out many of the options available to councils.  It makes some suggestions as to how they could go about delivering new homes, improving existing ones and making housing central to local areas.
ESRC: New software has significant benefits for primary school children & their understanding of elementary physics, research shows.  Studies funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) focused on what primary school children know when they begin studying physics, and how much they still have to learn.  The studies looked at how much children understand about the movement of objects such as direction & speed.
HMRC: HMRC’s renewed strategy for dealing with alcohol duty fraud, now covering wine & beer as well as spirits, is a significant improvement on the previous strategy and the Department has achieved some of its early objectives.
However, a report released by the National Audit Office has found that there has been no tangible success achieved in working with industry to disrupt the illegal diversion of duty-unpaid alcohol back into the UK market.  There has also been a low level of criminal sanctions against fraudsters.
PC&PE: The Defence Committee have described as ‘grotesque’ that 40% of planned military redundancies are to be compulsory while the MoD's current civilian redundancies will be entirely voluntary. The Committee published its report, last week, into the MoD's Annual Report and Accounts 2010–11.
For the fifth successive year, the MoD's Annual Accounts have been qualified.  In 2010–11, the MoD did not comply with international financial reporting as laid down by the Treasury and has no plans to do so for the foreseeable future.  The Committee is concerned that the level of theft & fraud in the MoD appear generally to be increasing year on year, and that the level of value recovered from theft & fraud is low.
CHNon-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the greatest cause of deaths & disability for humans and have a serious economic impact, says a new Chatham House paper, Silent Killer, Economic Opportunity: Rethinking Non-Communicable Disease.
The cumulative losses in global economic output due to NCDs will total $47 trillion, or 5% of GDP, by 2030.  The author, Sudeep Chand, says modest investments to prevent & treat NCDs could bring major economic returns & save tens of millions of lives
NIESR: The Government has stated that its primary social policy objective is to increase social mobility.  At a recent research seminar Jonathan Portes, Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), discussed the current state of research on education, inequality & social mobility, and the implications for policy.
HMIC: A review by HMIC into the systems & processes of recording crime ‘(The crime scene: A review of police crime and incident reports’) has found that although the majority of forces do well, and improvements have been made, there remains wide variation on accuracy. HMIC looked in depth at two issues:
* incidents reported by the public converted into crimes
* the use of the ‘no crime’ category by the police
DCMS: Recommendations from independent panel for widespread deregulation of the tourism & hospitality industries have been published. The proposals, which cover areas such as planning & use classes regulations, travel insurance, food labelling, health & safety rules, employment restrictions in the tourism sector, licensing and many other areas of concern to the industry, will now be considered across Government.
JRF: The first systematic review of the real impact of public spending cuts on local authorities has been published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently.  It finds that the most deprived local authorities have been hardest hit by the cuts.  It also finds conflict within local authorities over whether the needs of vulnerable people should be prioritised.
IPPR: Reacting to the growth figures for quarter four of 2011, IPPR’s Chief Economist says “the short term outlook suggests the UK economy has slipped back into recession and the feared ‘double-dip’ began in the final quarter of 2011”.
CIPD: UK middle managers are feeling the squeeze as a result of the economic downturn, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) quarterly Employee Outlook survey of 2,000 employees.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) has published report on Government & IT that insists Government has still to address challenges of ‘intelligent’ procurement.
PC&PE: In a report published recently, the Home Affairs Committee criticises the UK Border Agency's management of the processes for the enforced removal of those who are being deported from the UK.
TKF: If the benefits of service-line management (SLM) are to be realised then hospital boards must be prepared to cede power and control to clinical teams, despite the difficult financial climate, says a report published recently by The King’s Fund.
PC&PE: MPs have called on the Government to reform regulation of the scrap metal industry as part of wider measures to tackle the increase in metal theft.
WWF: New rules are urgently needed to ensure all UK and other EU-flagged fishing boats operating in waters outside of Europe, are operating in a sustainable way and to the same standards as they would back home, said WWF-UK last week.

The conservation group made the call as it published a new study revealing in greater detail how commercial fishing globally has dramatically expanded its areas of operation – to now cover over one-third of the world’s ocean surface - and seriously questioning the sustainablity of this level of exploitation of marine resources. 

The study for WWF has for the first time transposed data about the global expansion of fishing activity, from 1950 to the present, to an animated map.

Legislation / Legal

LSC: The Legal Service Commission are introducing 2 new payment arrangements for Crime (Lower) and Civil (Legal Help) work. Under both new arrangements you will still receive a payment each month as you do now, but claims & payments on your account will be more closely aligned.
ScotGov: The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act has received Royal Assent, the Minister for Community Safety announced recently. The Act will give Scotland's police & prosecutors the additional tools they have asked for to extract poisonous songs of hatred from Scottish football and threats of harm being posted on the internet.
The new laws create 2 new distinct offences, punishable through a range of penalties up to a maximum 5-year prison sentence:
* The first offence targets any offensive & threatening behaviour expressed at & around football matches which is likely to cause public disorder.
* The second offence relates to the communication of threats of serious harm or which are intended to stir up religious hatred on the internet or other communications.
MoJ: The Ministry of Justice has published a new online tool that lets people see the length of time cases take in courts across England & Wales. Visitors to the Open Justice website can now view detailed court-by-court data relating to criminal, civil and family court proceedings.
SGC: The Sentencing Council has published a new guideline for judges & magistrates on the sentencing of drug offences, which will come into effect on 27 February 2012.  Although primarily aimed at criminal justice professionals, the guideline is specifically designed to be accessible and clear to the public. . 
Press release & links
WAG: There is just hours to go to go until a new law is introduced in Wales which will ban the sale of cigarettes from vending machines. The move is part of the Welsh Government’s efforts to safeguard young people & children from the harmful effects of smoking.
Local Trading Standards Officers will be enforcing the ban in Wales.  If a business is found to be selling cigarettes to the public directly from a vending machine, it could be fined up to £2,500. If any vending machine still displays tobacco advertising, the business could be fined up to £5,000 and the owner could face up to 2 years in prison.
Defra: The Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) highlights the top 100 challenges to the UK & our economy of a changing climate and ‘provides the evidence of the need to increase our resilience’.  The research confirms the UK as a world-leader in understanding climate risk to ensure we can make robust plans to deal with these threats.
However, a Government report published alongside the CCRA does highlight the many current & future policies already in place and gives details of plans which will address some of the risks identified.
HMT: The Government has published legislation which will ‘fundamentally transform & strengthen financial regulation in the United Kingdom’. The new regime sets out a clear, coherent & comprehensive regulatory framework, replacing the uncertainty & inadequacy of the previous structure, and helping to mitigate against future risks to stability.
IfG: In a report out recently, the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) commends government progress in implementing its ICT strategy, but recommends that more can be done to ensure the strategy delivers promised benefits.
In particular, PASC argues for an overhaul of government procurement to break the perceived ‘oligopoly’ of large suppliers and calls for more timely and accurate data to benchmark costs across government departments.  The Institute for Government  has welcomed the general thrust of PASCs report.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The deadline for the submission of applications for the Charlemagne Youth Prize has been postponed to 13 February 2012.  This will give more candidates the opportunity to participate in the fifth edition of the Prize.  
PC&PE: The Government's  decision to set a unilateral Carbon Price Floor could have a ‘devastating effect’ on UK industry and will artificially raise electricity prices for consumers, while having no overall impact on emissions – MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee have warned.
EU News: The European Commission has closed an infringement case against the UK in recognition that ‘UK national legislation has now been changed to properly implement EU rules on ePrivacy and data protection on the confidentiality of communications such as email or Internet browsing’.  The Commission believes UK law and institutions are now well-equipped to enforce the privacy rights of UK users.
EU News: A pan-European constituency with trans-national lists for European Parliament elections is among the proposals put forward by the Constitutional Affairs Committee last week.  MEPs called on the Council & the Commission to join in negotiations to reform the EU electoral system so as to boost voter turnouts.
A pan-European list, composed of candidates drawn from at least one third of the Member States, is the key proposal approved. From this list, 25 MEPs would be elected, while all others would continue to be chosen through national lists.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU's 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe's digital economy.  A single law will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administrative burdens, leading to savings for businesses of around €2.3 billion a year ~ See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

DUK:  Celebrity personal trainer Dee Thresher and her partner, ITV Daybreak’s Dr Hilary Jones, are fronting a new online training programme to support Diabetes UK runners taking part in a Bupa Great Run this year

They will be filming exclusive training videos & providing training tips on Twitter (follow @dee_fitness) to support people with diabetes to train for a run and manage their existing diabetes effectively.  Physical activity like running can also help to reduce the risk of people developing Type 2 diabetes.

Press release & links

DUK:  Exactly 90 years ago last week a 14-year-old Canadian boy, Leonard Thompson, became the first person with diabetes to be successfully treated with insulin.  Prior to insulin treatment a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes was an invariable death sentence, with patients usually surviving for only a few months, and often just weeks or days.

Press release & links

HL:  Rough sleepers who passed through the No Second Night Out hub were half as likely to return to sleeping on the streets than those who didn't, a new report on the London pilot has shown. 

NSNO is currently being rolled out across the country, with 41 services receiving grants from the Homeless Transition Fund to support them with ending rough sleeping.  The launch of the Liverpool initiative will take place in February 2012.

Press release & links

 BIG:  The Big Lottery Fund has published 7 good practice guides for organisations working with young people.  The new downloadable publications share learning & practical examples from projects supported by the Young People’s Fund

Putting its learning into practice, BIG is currently looking to recruit a group of motivated 16-25 year olds to help develop an investment that will benefit young people in .  In 2012 & 2013, BIG plans to invest money in ideas that will inspire young people in need ‘to build on their strengths and make a difference to their lives & communities’ 

Those applying (by 1 February 2012) to help us achieve this will know the kind of services young people need, have experience of making difficult decisions as part of a team and be able to share their own views, not just those of an organisation or group they may belong to.
Press release & links ~ New investment in Young People

CLG:  Communities Minister Andrew Stunell has invited community & voluntary organisations to apply for a share of £100m that will help revitalise communities and bring the empty homes blighting their areas back into use.  The deadline for applications is 17 April 2012.
Press release & links

Business and Other Briefings

No10‘Business in You’, a major new campaign aimed at inspiring people to start or grow their own businesses and helping small businesses & entrepreneurs understand the array of information & help available from the Government & private sector has been launched by the Prime Minister.
HRMC: HMRC is reminding VAT-registered businesses that all VAT returns must be submitted online from this spring, meaning paper returns will soon be a thing of the past. 

Every VAT-registered trader not already required to submit online will receive a letter from HMRC in February 2012, advising them of the change, and what steps they need to take. To submit your VAT return online, you need to be registered & enrolled for HMRC’s VAT Online Service
BIS: Companies of all shapes & sizes have been asked for their views on how to tackle unnecessary bureaucracy in company and commercial law.   For the next 3 weeks, the latest phase of the Red Tape Challenge will focus on more than 120 company law regulations, guidance & enforcement processes that businesses deal with on a daily basis.
The campaign asks for a variety of suggestions about how regulations can be improved, simplified or abolished, whilst maintaining a company law framework that gives companies the flexibility to compete and develop effectively.
DWP: A revised timetable for when employers of all sizes must start enrolling their staff in a workplace pension has been set out by the Government. The level of pension contributions will be phased in over time to help employers & individuals adjust. Full contributions will have to be paid from 1 October 2018. A consultation & draft regulations with more detailed information will be published shortly.
FSA: Martin Wheatley, managing director of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has outlined a new orthodoxy & regulatory approach for the future of conduct regulation – getting a fair deal for consumers.
With just over a year to go before the successor bodies to the FSA take over, Martin who is also CEO designate of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told a British Bankers’ Association audience that ‘it was time for a new approach to get the right outcomes for consumers’.
This Brief explains HM Revenue & Customs policy on claims for VAT on goods on hand at registration that are received from persons who were previously registered

Industry News

WAG:  A unique £3m project to test how building facades could be developed to generate clean electricity has been announced by Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies.  Cardiff University’s Sustainable Building Envelope Demonstration (SBED) study aims to explore how the role of the building envelope could be transformed to incorporate systems which can generate, store & distribute renewable energy.

The pilot scheme will involve designing prototype systems using integrated solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies.  They will then be tested in a range of buildings, including housing, offices and factories.  The scheme will develop products that not only reduce the energy requirements & costs of buildings, but also generate thermal & electrical energy in existing buildings.

Press release & links

DECC:  The South West has been named as the UK's first Marine Energy Park, firmly placing the region on the international map for leadership in marine renewable energy.  The South West Marine Energy Park will stretch from Bristol through to Cornwall and as far as the Isles of Scilly. 

It will create a collaborative partnership in the region between national & local government, Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Universities of Plymouth & Exeter and industry including Cornwall ’s famous Wave Hub. The aim of the partnership will be to speed up the progress of marine power development.

Energy from the waves or tides has the potential to generate up to 27GW of power in the UK alone by 2050, equivalent to the power generated from 8 coal-fired power stations, as well as helping to reduce emissions to fight climate change.

Press release & links

BIS:  Government investment in technology & innovation will enable  Britain's world leading digital businesses to benefit from future advances in technology and help them bring new products to the marketplace, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced last week. 

The new Connected Digital Economy Catapult centre will be a hub for the best innovations in the digital sector, focusing on where new advances.  (Catapult Centres were previously known as Technology and Innovation Centres),

Press release & links

Forthcoming Event

BIS:  A new comprehensive & interactive calendar of key enterprise events throughout 2012 has been unveiled.  The StartUp 2012: Enterprise Calendar highlights over 600 enterprise opportunities across the throughout the year. They include competitions, conferences, workshops and networking events that could be the kick-start needed to help a new or growing business venture.

The calendar is part of the new Business in You campaign, launched by the Prime Minister recently, which brings together the Government & private sector to inspire people to start or grow their business.

Press release & links ~ StartUp 2012: Enterprise Calendar ~ Business in You campaign

HSE:  Construction workers across Argyll & the Western Isles are being urged to pick up lifesaving advice at a FREE event on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 at Oban High School .  Health & Safety Executive inspectors, alongside leading members of the construction industry, will give practical advice on how to prevent death and injury while carrying out key activities on site.

The half-day event, part of the UK-wide ‘Working Well Together’ campaign, is aimed at SMEs, contracting companies and self employed construction workers.  The workshop will cover high risk construction activities including: working at height, use of access equipment, stone cutting & dust issues, transport, mechanical handling & welfare and tidy site practice, as well as information on the risks from asbestos and the steps that can be taken to prevent exposure.

Press release & links

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