In the News
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PC&PE: The debate on global warming may still be
on-going but the result of building on flood plains is
self-evident - The Commons
Public Accounts Committee has published its latest report on
Flood Risk Management in England.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee
said: "5m properties
in England - 1 in 6 - are currently at risk of flooding. The annual cost
of flood damage is at least £1.1bn and ageing defences & climate
change will increase that bill. So flood protection is a national
Yet it is unclear where the buck
stops and who is ultimately responsible for managing the risk of
flooding. There is also a great deal of uncertainty about whether there
will be enough money to maintain and improve flood protection in the longer
term, and who will pay. …….. It is not acceptable that local
people should be left in doubt about where responsibility and accountability
All of this is fuelling uncertainty over the
future availability & affordability of insurance cover for buildings in
areas at risk of flood. The current agreement between the
Government and the insurance industry runs out
in 2013. A new agreement is needed
Ofsted: It can be difficult to balance the needs of children in
care with their ‘duty to fit in to society’, especially on a
limited budget - Focusing on the child’s journey
& experience and looking at what makes the most difference in improving
children’s lives, Ofsted is to introduce ‘no
notice’ inspection for child protection services. The new
child protection framework, published last week, will come into effect in May 2012.
The no notice inspections, carried out over
a 2-week period, will see a team of experienced inspectors spending the
majority of their time talking directly to children & their
families about their experiences, as well as front-line social workers
and managers. Inspectors will also shadow social workers in their work
with children and their families, and observe multi-agency working.
The number of
cases being examined by inspectors will be doubled to ensure there is
an in-depth understanding of how well children are protected. Inspectors
will sit alongside social workers & managers to go through case files and
explore the support provided for each child.
least these days the ICO has some ‘teeth’ -
Too many consumers are being denied the right to access the
information that companies or public bodies hold about them,
Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said recently. In order to
resolve this issue, the ICO has launched an awareness-raising
campaign called Access
The campaign aims to promote awareness of
what a subject access request looks like and what to do if one is
received. Requests can be received by anyone working in an
organisation and can take many forms – from a detailed email
asking for specific information to a single sentence within a more general
complaint letter. Requests must be answered within 40 calendar days. Some organisations may
choose to charge a fee (max. £10) for handling a subject access
News: But how will it
resolve the (richer) North / (poorer) South split - At the
informal summit on 30 January 2012 a new Treaty on Stability,
Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union
was finalised by all EU member states with the exception of the United
Kingdom and the Czech Republic. The Treaty aims to
strengthen fiscal discipline through the introduction of more automatic
sanctions and stricter surveillance, and in particular through the
‘balanced budget rule’.
The treaty will be signed
in March 2012 and will enter into
force once it has been ratified by at least 12 euro area member
states. It will be legally binding as an international agreement
and will be open to the EU countries which do not sign it at the outset.
The aim is to incorporate it into EU law within 5 years of its entry into force.
should it be the taxpayers who go on strike? - Latest
public pension reforms unlikely to save money over longer term; 4-year pay
squeeze returns public/private differential to pre-recession level.
These are 2 headline findings from an in-depth analysis of this
government’s public pensions & pay policies done by
Institute for Financial Studies researchers in preparation for the
launch of the annual IFS Green Budget.
AUK: The benefit cake can only be shared so many
ways - Age UK’s new Care in
Crisis 2012 report shows that this year spending on older
people’s social care in England has fallen £500m
short of even maintaining the inadequate levels of provision in place
when the Coalition came to power.
AUK analysis shows that the combined impact
of growing demand for services and a £341m reduction in older
people’s social care budgets this financial year – equivalent
to a 4.5% cut – has created a £500m shortfall.
Quality, not quantity -
Only the very highest quality qualifications will be included
in future secondary school Performance Tables, the Department for
Education announced last week. The announcement follows
recommendations made in a report by Professor Alison Wolf last year. She
highlighted how the current Performance Table system creates perverse
incentives for some schools to put pupils on courses which might boost
their Performance Table positions.
At the moment there are 3,175 so-called
equivalent qualifications accredited & approved for study by 14-
to 16-year-olds, all of which count in the tables. Under the last
government some of these were worth as much as 4, 5 or even 6
GCSEs. But from the 2014 Performance Tables (published
in January 2015), just 125 of
these qualifications (3.9% of the current total) will count.
CO: What happens if it goes ‘down’?
- The delivery of digital government information that is
fit for the 21st century and will lead to anticipated savings of £50m a
year has come one step closer with the beta release of a single
domain, Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude announced last week.
The beta domain
tests a new way of delivering public services digitally so that people can
access the information they need quickly, easily & securely in one place,
without having to wade through many different government websites. The
projected cost of the beta project is £1.7m and it is currently running
event: Gartner Identity
& Access Management Summit | 12-13 March 2012 | London UK -
The need to limit costs is forcing IAM professionals to look beyond
traditional technology approaches and delivery models and to take a more
strategic approach to IAM.
the Gartner Identity & Access Management Summit, we’ll focus on the
practicalities of delivering a successful, mature IAM program, the challenges
and opportunities of new technologies such as cloud computing, and the need to
incorporate and integrate with business disciplines such as business
intelligence and business process management.
Experience two days of interactive presentations, guest keynotes,
real-world case studies, panel discussions, peer networking and topic-specific
roundtable and workshop discussions.
View the full agenda and register here
Please note that previously
published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter
TfL: The UK Government, Mayor of London, London 2012 and the UK's transport networks have joined forces to launch a major new national campaign to encourage the travelling public to 'Get Ahead of the Games'.
LSIS: The Excellence Gateway, the Learning & Skills Improvement Services’s online service for everyone who works in the Further Education & skills sector, has undergone a major makeover. The portal that provides practical help to all professionals in the sector has been redeveloped to make it easier & faster to use.
The changes include: news tailored to the page the user is viewing, simplified navigation around the website, improved search functions and access to older content via The Treasury – a collection of valued resources that are no longer updated. The changes were made following consultation with leaders, managers, teachers, librarians & partner organisations within the sector.
DH: The first ever national cancer campaign, ‘Be Clear onCancer’ to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer has recently been launched.
ScotGov: Scotland’s first air pollution mobile phone alert service, ‘Know and Respond’, has been launched recently in a bid to make information more accessible and improve public health.
TfL: A new information tool has been developed which identifies traffic hotspots and makes congestion easier to avoid.
FSA: Doves Farm is withdrawing one batch of its gluten-free buckwheat flour because the product contains gluten. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
MoD: Territorial Army (TA) soldiers returned home recently from a demanding tour in Afghanistan running the busiest trauma hospital in the world. All are volunteers drawn from NHS hospitals across Merseyside, North Wales, Cheshire and Lancashire.
BIS: The Business Secretary Vince Cable has received 32 bids from across the UK wanting to host the Green Investment Bank (GIB).
LR: From 1 February 2012, Land Registry's Form LL restriction is free for home owners who do not live at the property. The restriction is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring the solicitor or conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner. The fee of £50 for owner occupiers remains the same.
HO: One year on from its launch, the interactive website police.uk now features incidents of crime & antisocial behaviour recorded at all train stations & railway networks across England & Wales. Communities will also start to see incidents that occurred on or near a range of additional local sites including shopping areas, nightclubs, hospitals, parks and parking areas.
ScotGov: A film made by ‘Scots & Scots at heart’ in 32 countries around the globe has had its worldwide premiere. ‘Scotland The World Over’ was unveiled by Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop ahead of a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Year of Creative Scotland 2012.
The film is a social media collaboration involving more than 1,500 people from all over the globe and was created using 715 images with a Saltire in the centre of the frame taken between St Andrew’s Day & Burns Night.
ACE: From April 2012 Arts Council England, in association with Trinity College London, is launching 2 brand new levels of Arts Award open to children & young people aged seven or over. The Arts Award scheme, which supports young people who want to deepen their engagement with the arts, previously only offered opportunities for children over 11 years of age. Those interested in running Arts Award for ages 7 and upwards can now book to train as Discover & Explore advisers.
UKOC: News via a video of some intergenerational events being held at High Storrs School in Sheffield. These sessions have seen sixth form students giving their time after school to help older residents in the community gain computer skills and use the internet.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been notified by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) of an outbreak of a strain of Salmonella Newport infection that is known to have affected more than 30 people in the UK. Although it is too soon to say for certain what the likely cause of infection is, a potential link to watermelons has been identified.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
STFC: The STFC Futures Programme is making available up to £1m per annum to create new multidisciplinary research communities by supporting interactions between STFC-funded researchers and appropriate science, technology & industry groups in the areas of Energy, Healthcare and the Environment.
DCLG: Communities Minister Bob Neill has recently confirmed a further £22m to help former coalfield communities get back on their feet and support economic growth.
ACE: The Arts Council has recently launched a new £37m fund to ensure more people living in places where levels of involvement are currently low, experience and are inspired by the arts.
ScotGov: Youth employment has topped the agenda at Scotland’s ninth National Economic Forum, held recently at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange (the day after the publication of the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment Strategy).
DfT: Motorists are set for improvements in customer service from garages under a package of transparency & value-for-money measures unveiled recently by Transport Secretary, Justine Greening. An evaluation of existing MOT test standards & frequency took account of the views & evidence offered by a wide range of organisations.
ScotGov: Faster internet connections will drive economic growth, connect communities and bring the digital revolution to the whole of Scotland, Alex Neil said last week. Publishing Scotland’s Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure & Capital Investment said the plan ‘will deliver faster internet access, no matter where you are in the country’.
To deliver the plan, the Scottish Government aims to secure investment worth hundreds of millions from both the public & private sector. Public funding of £185m has already been identified.
ScotGov: The £15m Childsmile nursery, school & practice programmes have now been rolled out across the country and are being delivered in every health board in Scotland. The programme emphasises the importance of tooth brushing and helps parents establish a healthy diet from the earliest stage.
MoD: The Government has set out its plans to prioritise investment in Science & Technology, in order to ensure the UK's Armed Forces continue to have state-of-the-art technology, equipment & support, in a White Paper published last week.
ScotGov: The UK Government’s Welfare Reform plans will ‘rob Scotland of over £54m a year’, new analysis has ‘confirmed’, Housing Minister Keith Brown claimed last week.
People who are judged to be ‘under occupying’ their home by 1 bedroom will have their housing benefit slashed by 14%. Where they are under occupying by 2 or more bedrooms the deduction is 25%. The new criteria for under occupation could mean that ill or disabled people, who use a spare bedroom for medical equipment, may all be affected.
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has highlighted how the Government's action to get Britain building again will play a vital & central role in getting the country's economy on the road to recovery.
CLG: Communities with ambitions for economic growth have recently been rewarded with a cash boost of nearly £1bn to get their projects off the ground & improve their local areas. Ministers have confirmed the allocation of the £500m Growing Places Fund, designed to boost economic growth by getting the required infrastructure built to enable the creation of new homes & jobs and get stalled projects moving again.
The funding has been allocated to the country's 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships, who will now decide what to prioritise locally.
WAG: Transport Minister Carl Sargeant and Finance Minister Jane Hutt have announced that local authorities across Wales will now benefit from a new scheme to address pressures on road maintenance budgets, allowing them to free up resources and boost borrowing for investment in local highway improvement schemes.
WAG: The Welsh Government’s flagship support, guidance & skills development programme, Farming Connect, is helping farm businesses across Wales to be more efficient & to reduce input costs; Deputy Minister for Agriculture Alun Davies told the inaugural Farming Connect Spotlight conference recently.
ScotGov: Finance Secretary John Swinney has outlined the economic argument for an independent Scotland in an address to the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh.
DECC: As the big freeze grips the country, pensioners and the most vulnerable are being urged to take advantage of a government grant scheme to help make homes warmer. Letters have just landed on 675,000 doormats across England to raise awareness about the Warm Front scheme.
DfT: Local communities & businesses could be given control of decisions & budgets for major local transport schemes in their areas, under proposals announced for consultation (closes on 2 April 2012) by Transport Secretary, Justine Greening. Currently central government must approve all schemes over £5m.
The new system could potentially see decisions on capital funding for local schemes - including new local roads, public transport schemes, better pedestrian routes, and new local rail stations - devolved to democratically accountable local transport bodies.
Press release ~ Devolving local major transport schemes
DfT: Plans to axe red tape for councils wanting to put in place schemes to tackle disruptive road works have been published for consultation (closes on 13 April 2012) by Regional & Local Transport Minister Norman Baker. Under the plans, councils will still need to comply with the law on the penalties & requirements they can impose on utility companies when operating a permit scheme.
Press release ~ Consultation on 'permit schemes' for street works
NE: In September 2011, Natural England's Board confirmed that it would be recommending extensions to the Lake District and
National Park boundaries: the relevant Variation Orders to extend the Park boundaries, maps and boundary descriptions will shortly be presented to the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs for her consideration.
The documents describing these proposals can be viewed online and at 18 locations in & around the project area until 16 March 2012.
Press release & links
DfT: Changes to streamline the process local councils and the Highways Agency must go through when introducing new traffic restrictions are being looked at in a new consultation (closes 23 April 2012).
Press release & links ~ Consultation
WAG: Plans aimed at ensuring that Wales' natural environment is managed to deliver the best environmental & economic outcomes for
have been launched by Environment Minister, John Griffiths.
The Welsh Government is inviting views on the proposals (by 31 May 2012) set out in its Green Paper and whether they are the right ones to ensure Wales’ natural environment helps to deliver the environmental and economic future that Wales needs.
Press release & links
MoJ: In an overhaul of victims’ services, up to £50m would be generated from offenders to help create a speedier, more supportive system for victims of serious crime. Criminals will be forced to fund victims' support services and those with unspent convictions could be banned from claiming compensation, under new proposals announced by Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke. Consultation ends on 22 April 2012.
Press release & links
TfL: Transport for
London (TfL) has revealed plans for a radically improved Euston Circus, which will deliver a ‘greener, more user-friendly area for all in the heart of the Capital’. The junction, which links Euston Road, Tottenham Court Road and Hampstead Road, has for many years been a traffic dominated area which acts as a significant barrier for pedestrians and cyclists.
TfL is now engaging with local stakeholders, residents & businesses to discuss the proposals and take onboard any additional comments while final designs are being drawn up (comment online by 17 February 2012). As part of this engagement, TfL will be holding 2 exhibitions at the William Road Gallery, 7-9 William Road NW1 3ER between 16:00 and 19:00 on the 7 & 9 February 2012.
Press release & links
CLG: Zero-Carbon Homes are a step closer after new proposals have been announced to cut carbon emissions in new & existing buildings by Communities Minister, Andrew Stunell. The new set of Building Regulations published for consultation will save over £63m a year for businesses ‘by cutting excessive red-tape and deliver safer & more sustainable buildings’.
When these amendments come into force in 2013, more energy efficient homes will typically save householders over £150 a year on energy bills compared with homes being built in May 2010. Responses to the consultation can be provided up until 27 April 2012, other than the proposals related to the Green Deal where responses have been requested by 27 March 2012.
Press release & links
NICE: Anyone with an interest in health is invited to have their say on potential indicators for the proposed Commissioning Outcomes Framework (COF), which will be used to improve the quality of commissioned health services and drive up standards of patient care across . There are 120 indicators out for consultation for the 2013/14 COF, covering a broad range of topics including mental health, cancer and asthma.
All GP practices in
will be required to join one of the Clinical Commissioning Groups, which will begin to assume their new statutory responsibilities from 2013/14. The COF will allow the NHS Commissioning Board to measure the quality & outcomes of healthcare commissioned by CCGs and their contribution to achieving the outcomes set out in the NHS Outcomes Framework. Consultation closes on Wednesday 29 February 2012.
Press release & links
ScotGov: A consultation (closes on 12 March 2012) on a Hydro Nation Strategy and a Water Resources Bill has been launched aimed at cementing Scotland's global reputation as a country with a dynamic, world class, water industry. The proposed Bill ‘places a duty on Ministers to develop the value of our water resources’.
Press release & links
EU News: By 2050 the global population is set to reach 9bn people and worldwide demand for food, feed & fibre is forecast to increase by 70%. To thrive in that context, economies will need to use natural resources in a far more efficient manner. The way we consume and produce will be key to
Europe's success or failure in this process. This is why the Commission intends to revise the EU's Consumption and Production policies and has launched a public consultation that will remain open until 3 April 2012.
Press release & links
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
ICO: The Information Commissioner has recently publisheda new plain English Guide to Freedom of Information to help public authorities better understand what the Act says and how to apply it. The guide takes a straight-forward look at the law and explains in simple terms what organisations need to do to comply, including how to respond to requests and deciding what information they should routinely publish.
NICE: A project to improve the care of newborn babies with brain injury has seen dramatically improved results, after championing NICE's guidance on therapeutic hypothermia. Babies who are deprived of oxygen around & during the time of birth can develop hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) - brain injury leading to death or permanent disability.
Until recently, there has been no specific treatment for babies with HIE. However, research shows that cooling the body temperature of babies within 6 hours of birth - therapeutic hypothermia - leads to a significant number of babies showing normal development at 18 months, who would have otherwise have developed brain injury.
Sharing your story of putting NICE guidance into practice can give you the chance to present your work at the NICE annual conference in May 2012. The closing date for submissions to be considered for the 2012 Shared Learning Awards was last week. However, submissions will continue to be taken for consideration in next year's awards.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has updated its list of product ranges that do not contain the 6 food colours associated with possible hyperactivity in young children. Another 2 manufacturers producing product lines free of the colours have been added to the list, they are: Atkins and Potts, and On the Menu.
CIPD: New guidance from the CIPD will help employers across the entire UK ensure that government funding for apprenticeships delivers for employers, individuals & society. The guidance, which is designed to cement high quality apprenticeships as a viable alternative route into professions & occupations and give employers greater ownership of their delivery, was launched ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, taking place in England from 6-10 February 2012. .
NICE: NICE is to produce a best practice guide to help trusts develop local formularies, as part of a move to ensure that all patients in England have access to clinically and cost-effective drugs. Local formularies provide a list of selected or preferred drugs available to local prescribers and have an important role in underpinning safe & effective use of medicines.
A recent report into innovation in healthcare by the Department of Health has highlighted that not all local formularies are including all of NICE's technology appraisals. This can lead to a postcode lottery where patients miss out on drugs approved by NICE.
TKF: The latest quarterly monitoring report from The King’s Fund shows that NHS performance is continuing to hold up, despite warnings from MPs this week about the scale of the financial challenge it is facing. The report shows that performance against key indicators for waiting times & infection rates remains on track, although national statistics mask significant variation in performance between hospitals.
LR: As part of its commitment to the Government's priorities of economic growth and data transparency, detailed Land Registry transaction information is now available monthly in addition to the House Price Index.
ScotGov: Following the introduction of new measures in 2011 to protect seals(including strict licensing conditions for seal shootings) indications are that the first year has worked well. In the first 3 quarters of 2011, 362 seals were shot – 27% of the permitted maximum under licence – considerably lower than estimates by environmental groups of over 3,000 seals each year prior to the new system. The measures are in place to control the removal of specific seals around fisheries and fish farm cages as a last resort measure.
IFS: The latest IFS Green Budget suggests that, even relative to major planned cuts, Whitehall departments will underspend by more than £3bn this year. But significant downside risks to the public finances, combined with long-term pressures from an ageing population, suggest that the Chancellor has little scope for a significant permanent fiscal loosening relative to current plans.
NAO: Amyas Morse, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), has qualified his audit opinion on the 2010-11 Civil Superannuation accounts which report the financial results of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) and a number of other small public sector pension schemes.
MO: The Met Office has revealed which European countries were the windiest during 2011 in a special edition of Wind Review for the wind energy industry - The 2011 Wind Review.
WAG: The Welsh Government is making positive progress with its work to put sustainable development at the heart of everything is does, according to an independent report by PwC. The report also says that in instances where sustainable development is embedded into Welsh Government policy and decision making, the end result is more effective and efficient.
However, whilst the report recognises the Welsh Government’s progress on sustainable development, it does highlight that there is more work to do if all objectives are to be fully realised.
TUC: Total bank lending to firms outside of finance & real estate must more than double in order to meet the investment needs of the UK economy over the next decade, says a TUC report published last week. The TUC report Banking after Vickers says that government has identified £450bn-worth of physical investment, vital to the UK over the next decade.
But with the current stock of bank loans to non-financial firms (excluding real estate) at just £322bn, banks would need to more than double their current level of lending to meet UK investment needs. This simply won't happen without radical reform of the banking sector, says the TUC.
NAO: An initial report by the National Audit Office on progress by central government departments in reducing costs has concluded that departments took effective action in 2010-11, cutting spending in real terms by 2.3% or £7.9bn, compared with 2009-10.
However, the report warns that departments are less well-placed to make the long-term changes needed to achieve the further 19% over the four years to 2014-15, as required by the spending review. This is partly because of gaps in their understanding of costs & risks, making it more difficult to identify how to deliver activities & services at a permanently lower cost. Fundamental changes will be needed to achieve sustainable reductions on the scale required.
General Reports and Other Publications
TUC: The falling proportion of national
output that goes on wages has meant that UK workers are taking home
£60bn a year less (in today's money) than workers did 30 years ago,
according to a new report published by the TUC.
The finding is published in the latest
TUC Touchstone Extra pamphlet All In this Together?,
which looks at how the recession and ongoing economic weakness has had an
impact on different parts of the workforce. It ‘documents the
scale of the real terms pay cuts and downgraded terms & conditions that
employees are facing, and warns that UK workers are at risk of a near-permanent
lowering in the pattern and nature of their working conditions, with disastrous
potential consequences for our future economic health’.
PC&PE: In a report published recently, the
Political & Constitutional Reform Committee calls for
progress in reforming party political finance arrangements. The
Committee highlights the opportunity represented by the publication, on 22
November 2011, of the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life
to achieve a solution. It calls on the Government to fulfil its
commitment to "pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and
reforming party funding in order to remove big money from
NAO: A recently
published report, ‘Mobile technology in
Policing’, suggests that whilst in many forces mobile
devices enable officers to spend more time out of their stations, cash savings
have been limited and only 1 in 5 forces have used the devices
of the Defence Pound’
considers the value for money in defence
contracting, drawing particular attention to the tax revenues
associated with British supply chain, compared with buying equipment from
Using a CIMA approach, a clear methodology
& explicit assumption, the study tracks the tax revenues associated with an
actual £1m contract, and concludes that the government could get
back over 28% in income tax and national insurance payments
DH: NICE is
to assess new genetic tests as part of a drive to adopt more genetic technology
in the NHS, says a new report, Building on our inheritance: Genomic
technology in healthcare.
HEFCE: Following consultation, the Higher
Education Funding Council England has published its latest
equality scheme, which sets out its approach to equality &
diversity both within the organisation and in its work with the higher
education sector, for the next three years.
NAO: Apprenticeships for adults
offer a good return for the public money spent on them overall, according to
the National Audit Office. However, the Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills could improve value for money
significantly by targeting resources on areas where the greatest
economic returns can be achieved.
Overall, the Apprenticeship Programme is
well coordinated and is better managed than a previous government programme,
Train to Gain, for example by maintaining a central register of
approved providers, with a single national contract and account manager for
WAG: The ‘Working
Smarter’ report, recommending a simplified & improved
way of working for both regulators & farmers in Wales, has been
published. The independent report focuses on 7 key areas
and makes 74 recommendations, with an emphasis on how those
recommendations should be delivered.
ScotGov: A report into the NHS in
Scotland has ‘praised its industrial relations practices and
“cast doubt” on the pursuit of market-based reforms south of the
DECC: The Institution of Engineering and
Technology (IET) has recently published a comprehensive study on the
whole life costs of installing new high voltage transmission
lines under the ground, under the sea and over ground.
This study has been undertaken at the
Government’s request in order to provide an authoritative &
independent point of reference for the Infrastructure Planning
Commission in evaluating planning applications for new transmission
connections & reinforcements.
NIESR: In the latestNational Institute
Economic Review, published last week, Dr. Angus Armstrong, Director of
Macroeconomic Research at NIESR, examines the monetary &
fiscal policy choices facing an independent Scotland.
NAO: A high take-up nationally of education for
3- and 4-year-olds has been sustained, but there are wide variations in both
take-up and access to high quality provision depending on where children live,
according to a report published by the National Audit Office.
The Department for Education has made
progress against many of its objectives in delivering the free entitlement to
early education, but it must address variations in take-up, quality of
provision and the impact on attainment in later years if it is to achieve value
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts
Committee has published its 65th report of Session 2010-12 -
Transferring cash and assets to the poor.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee,
said: "Transfer programmes appear to pose a lower risk of waste
& fraud than more traditional forms of aid, with money going directly to
recipients. They have been effective at tackling hunger and malnutrition
and improving access to health and education
Demos: An evaluation by the think-tank
Demos finds that mentoring programmes can offer direct,
positive outcomes – including on aspirations, a sense of agency,
and soft skills – for both mentors & mentees.
PC&PE: Malicious software -
designed to infect computers to steal bank details and identity information -
poses a growing threat in the UK as more people use the
internet and an increasing proportion of economic activity takes place online.
MPs on the Science and Technology Select Committee say the
Government must do more to help the public understand how to stay safe
Nef: The economic crisis
explained. We are in the second phase of an economic crisis which
is global in its scale & reach, affecting all our major institutions and
established ways of thinking. How did we get here? And what can we do now
to prevent worldwide economic meltdown?
Ippr: Credit-fuelled asset markets have
encouraged greater speculation, displacing more traditional long-term
investment strategies. After the credit boom, changes of allocation by UK
savings institutions could play a major role reinvigorating the domestic
economy according to a paper published by the think tank
ESRC: Older people feel that their health
problems pose a challenge to their sense of independence, dignity &
identity and sometimes the health care they are given makes things
worse. According to research funded by UK Research
Councils' New Dynamics of Ageing programme (NDA), healthcare providers
must avoid taking a 'blanket view' of how to help older people cope with the
Legislation / Legal
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has imposed a monetary penalty of £140,000 on Midlothian Council for disclosing sensitive personal data relating to children & their carers to the wrong recipients on 5 separate occasions. The penalty is the first that the ICO has served against an organisation in Scotland.
DH: The Government has outlined its plans to further improve the Health & Social Care Bill as it prepares to re-enter the House of Lords. Health Minister Lord Howe has now laid a number of amendments that ‘reaffirm the Government’s commitment to putting patients at the heart of the NHS and handing power to GPs & nurses’.
CSPL: The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life has published its submission to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee which is currently conducting pre-legislative scrutiny of the Government’s draft Bill on the recall of MPs.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published the results of his latest general survey of compliance with the Data Protection Regulation. In his latest stock-taking exercise, the EDPS has analysed the performance of all 58 EU institutions and bodies in certain key areas.
EU News: The European Commission has recently asked the United Kingdom to adopt national legislation to implement the new safety rules & standards for passenger ships to comply with European Union law.
EU News: A proposed EU concession to help put an end to the 20-year hormone beef trade war with the USA & Canada has been unanimously endorsed by the International Trade Committee.
EU News: The European Commission over the last years has taken a range of actions to enhance growth through the use of structural funds, to counter the crisis & ensure a quicker delivery of available funding.
EU News: As the world's biggest consumer of chocolate, the EU must take responsibility for the sustainability of the cocoa sector, Parliament's International Trade Committee has said.
EU News: Improvements in water quality in the EU could be at risk from new forms of chemical pollution. The Commission is proposing to add 15 chemicals to the list of 33 pollutants that are monitored & controlled in EU surface waters. The 15 substances include industrial chemicals as well as substances used in biocides, pharmaceuticals and plant protection products. They have been selected on the basis of scientific evidence that they may pose a significant risk to health.
The update will be achieved through a revision of the Directive on priority substances in the field of water quality. The newly proposed substances are the outcome of a review that considered the risks posed by some 2000 substances according to their levels in surface waters, and their hazardousness, production and use.
EU News: The European Medicines Agency, together with the European Member States and the European Commission, is preparing for the introduction of the new pharmacovigilance legislation in July 2012, which will bring the biggest change to the legal framework since the establishment of the Agency in 1995.
Over the next 5 months, the Agency will finalise its preparations for the inaugural meeting of the new Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC), planned for 19 July 2012..
EU News: The European Parliament has blocked changes to nutrition labelling that would have allowed new "percentage less" claims on sugar, salt and fat content. The new labels could have confused or misled consumers, said a resolution voted by MEPs last week. The MEPs' rejection resolution says the Commission's proposal could have provided a disincentive for companies to reformulate their products with substantially lower sugar, salt and fat content.
EU News: By 2050 the global population is set to reach 9bn people and worldwide demand for food, feed & fibre is forecast to increase by 70%, which is why the Commission intends to revise the EU's Consumption and Production policies and has launched a public consultation that will remain open until 3 April 2012 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Projects to help keep ex-prisoners & offenders on the ‘straight and narrow’ have received £1.8m in National Lottery good cause funding from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG). The projects help communities suffering from crime by working with former offenders in Yorkshire, London, West Midlands and women leaving prisons across England to reduce re-offending.
WAG: Environment Minister, John Griffiths has visited the Llangattock Green Valleys project in the Brecon Beacons National Park to see the latest sustainable developments in this energy-efficient community. The project was set up in 2008 with the aim of establishing Llangattock as a carbon negative community by 2015.
In addition, the Minister learned how Llangattock Green Valleys is proceeding with 5 local micro-hydro schemes and is in talks with the local Glanusk Estate to develop an anaerobic digestion project fuelled largely by grass clippings harvested on the Estate.
CLG: A £10m cash boost to train thousands of new volunteer leaders for national youth groups (like the Scouts, Guiding & Police Cadets) will give young people valuable skills & opportunities.
Over the next 2.5 years Youth will recruit & train up 2,700 new adult volunteers to run 400 new youth groups in communities across the country that will mean over 10,000 more young people will be able to join a pack or troop.
Business and Other Briefings
DWP: A key package of regulation to help
employers prepare for automatic enrolment into workplace pensions was
published last week. This package, alongside the revised timetable for
automatic enrolment published recently, is designed to make it easier for
business to manage their new duties. With these regulations in place, the
legislative framework underpinning these reforms is now almost
The DWP is publishing the
Government’s response to the consultation published last summer on
workplace pension reform regulations, and guidance on certifying pension
WAG: A natural feed supplement aimed at producing healthy premium milk all year round is under development in Wales. Cows grazing on fresh pasture in the summer produce milk with high levels of beneficial unsaturated fatty acids – but the levels fall dramatically in winter when they are fed on conserved feed.
Growing retail & consumer pressure is demanding healthier diary products and one high street retailer has already announced payment incentives to farmers who achieve certain fat levels in their milk.
MoD: The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has published details of the 4 bidders shortlisted for a new national contract to manage its UK training estate.
The National Training Estate Prime contract is worth up to £950m, covers approximately 200,000 hectares and will provide services ranging from managing air weapons ranges to providing laundry services or clearing snow & ice.
Press release & links
DCLG: A Love Your Local Market fortnight will be held from 23 June to 8 July, designed as an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs have the opportunity to test & develop their business ideas on a market stall.
NA: The archive sector is inviting archives and their users to help develop a UK Archives Accreditation Scheme. To kick-start this collaborative process, The National Archives are running a series of workshops across the country, including Edinburgh, York, London and Newtown, Wales.
The workshops so far have proved to be stimulating & challenging and, although these are now fully booked, you still have a chance to participate in the discussions by joining a webinar on ‘Creating Archives Accreditation’ – a condensed version of the workshop. The webinar will take place on 9 February 2012.
ScotGov: One of Barack Obama’s key aides will head the line-up for the Scottish Government’s 2012 National Food & Drink Conference (7 March 2012). Key themes of the conference will be education & innovation within Scotland’s food & drink industry. Delegates will have the opportunity to hear about projects currently underway, as well as listening to a debate by school pupils on food advertising to young people.
DCMS: One of the 5 pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief, Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able.
This exhibition (Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam) at the British Museum compares how pilgrims over the centuries negotiated this often monumental undertaking and how it continues to be experienced by people from all corners of the globe today. Tickets are now available for the exhibition which opened last week and runs until 15 April 2012.
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