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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

PC&PE:  We no longer wield such a big stick - The Government will need to make some difficult decisions on prioritisation if it embarks on a future mission similar to the Libya operation now that the Strategic Defence & Security (SDSR) is taking effect, says the Defence Committee in its report into Operations in Libya, published last week.

Although the UK was able to satisfy both operations in Libya & Afghanistan and its other standing tasks & commitments, the Libya operation was conducted before the implementation of many of the SDSR decisions on capability reductions.

The report notes the 2010 SD&S Review aim ‘that the UK would be more selective in its deployment of UK Armed Forces and would do so where there was a clear strategic aim...and a viable exit strategy’.  There is, however, a ‘disconnect’ between this assertion and the admission of the government that ‘there is a limit to the number of engagements that can be undertaken where the exit strategy is known with complete clarity’.

The Committee is also concerned that ‘future NATO operations will not be possible if the US is not willing or able to provide capabilities such as unmanned aerial vehicles, intelligence & refuelling aircraft’. 

It should be a priority for NATO to examine this over-reliance on US capabilities & assets. This challenge will be heightened by the US stated intention to shift its military, geographic & strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region.
COIt’s not what you say, but how you say it - The Behavioural Insights Team has published a paper on fraud, debt & error.  It represents a completely new way of doing policy and by actively testing ideas with public bodies the team has been able to demonstrate effects that, if rolled out, could save hundreds of millions of pounds.

The paper also presents the preliminary findings from 8 randomised controlled trials which BIT has run with a range of organisations – from local authorities to HMRC.  

For example, the project demonstrated that by making simple changes to tax letters, explaining that most people in the local area had already paid their taxes, repayment rates were boosted by around 15 percentage points. 
FSAYou cannot believe everything you read - An online tool aimed at dispelling myths about food allergy & intolerance has been launched on the NHS Choices website, with the help of the Food Standards Agency.  The tool looks at common misconceptions about food allergies & intolerances and ‘sorts the facts from fiction’.
DfEIt's difficult to protect your children when they know more than you - The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) last week launched new guidelines for organisations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to make sure parents & children get quality & consistent messages about internet safety.

The advice was published on Safer Internet Day 2012, a global drive to promote a safer internet for children and young people, and comes as TalkTalk announce they are the first ISP to offer customers an ‘active choice’ over whether or not they wish to use parental controls. 

This will make it easier for parents to protect their children from harmful or inappropriate online content from whichever device is used in the home – PC, laptop, games console or Internet enabled TV.
DfTOnline DIY holiday bookings get a boost - Up to 6m extra holidays each year will be fully protected against the failure of a travel company after Aviation Minister, Theresa Villiers confirmed measures to strengthen & modernise the ATOL holiday protection scheme, which will come into effect on 30 April 2012.  A summary of consultation responses and further details on the new regulations are available on the Department for Transport website.
DCMSAll are worthy but only one will win - From Edinburgh to Exeter and from cryptography to contemporary sculpture, 10 museums are in the running for the UK’s biggest prize for arts & cultural institutions. The ‘longlist’ for the £100,000 Art Fund Prize, now in its tenth year, was announced recently.  

Members of the public can now give their views on which museum should scoop the prize on an online forum launched last week.  A shortlist of 4 museums will be announced in May 2012 and the cash prize will be awarded on 19 June 2012.
ACE:  A chance to boost ‘sensible’ projects! - Nominations are now open for the National Lottery Awards 2012 - the annual search to find the UK's favourite Lottery-funded projects, including projects funded by the Arts Council's Grants for the arts scheme.  Visit the National Lottery Awards website before Monday 12 March 2012 to nominate your favourite project, or to enter your own project.
DCMS60 years of 'Have you come far' - 2 new photographs of the Queen and a Diamond Jubilee website have been launched recently by the Royal Household.   Visitors can search an events map to find Royal engagements taking place near them in Jubilee year and send a congratulatory message to The Queen.
Forthcoming event: Gartner Business Process Management Summit 2012, 14 15 March, London - People, Politics, Process: Breaking Down the Barriers to Enterprise Success - For those new to BPM, the Summit will help you to take the first steps, establish the skills required, and identify the right technologies. For those who are more experienced, the Summit will provide visibility into the future, identify the next generation of BPM and help you leverage new approaches such as Social BPM, Pace Layering and Intelligent Business Operations.
Key topics:
  • Dealing with Politics and Silos
  • Organizational Change Management
  • BPM and Mobile
  • Cloud Impact on BPM
    Intelligent Business Operations

This Summit will help you to advance your BPM projects, improve your own skills and deliver truly transformational BPM to your organization.

Click here to view the full agenda and register.

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

General News

TfLTransport for London (TfL) has confirmed which key London junctions will be the first of 500 to be examined as part of a major review of cycle safety ordered by the Mayor. Highbury Corner, St George's Circus and Tottenham High Road/West Green Road are among those proposed as priorities for review by the summer.
The review includes all 375 junctions on the existing Barclays Cycle Superhighways (routes 2, 3, 7 and 8), but TfL does not expect all of these junctions to require a redesign. The review also includes around 150 major junctions & planned schemes on the TfL Road Network.  The majority of these are locations where work is already planned and is in the design stage
FSAVirani is withdrawing 2kg bags of its gluten free gram flour, with a 'best before' end date of July 2013. The product contains levels of gluten that are above the limits set for foods labelled gluten free.  If you’re intolerant to gluten, don’t eat this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSAWaitrose has recalled all date codes of Waitrose Spiced King Prawn Salad because the product contains sesame seeds that were not declared on the label.  This makes the product a potential health risk for people who are allergic to sesame. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSADoves Farm has withdrawn some of its Chocolate and Crispy Rice Bars because they contain milk, which shouldn't be in the product.  This makes the bars a potential health risk for people who are allergic or intolerant to milk or milk constituents. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSASuma is recalling one batch of its Organic Pesto Alla Genovese with Basil, which is labelled as being suitable for vegans. The product contains milk, which isn't listed on the label.  If you’re allergic or intolerant to milk or milk constituents, you're advised not to eat the product.  The Food Standards Agency has issued an allergy alert.
DefraSchmallenberg virus (SBV) has now been identified in samples submitted from 29 farms across the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Hertfordshire.  All of the counties where SBV infection has been identified are in the zones recognised as potentially at risk from infected midges being blown across last summer from affected areas in northern mainland Europe.
At present, a Europe-wide assessment has concluded that SBV is unlikely to cause illness in people.  However, as this is a new virus, work is ongoing to identify whether it could cause any health problems in humans. The Health Protection Agency has provided some questions and answers on SBV on its website.
DfE: Schools Minister Nick Gibb has announced a new reading competitiondesigned to inspire children to become voracious readers and boost literacy standards’

The competition is open to all 7- to 12-year-olds at schools in England and it will launch in the autumn. The Department for Education is considering bids to design & co-deliver the competition and will choose a preferred partner in the coming weeks.
TUC: The TUC has urged the government to freeze the lower thresholds in the auto-enrolment regime - keeping the bottom of the earnings band on which contributions have to be paid (£5,564) and the earnings level at which auto-enrolment is triggered (£7,475) - at their current levels.
STFC: A team of scientists, led by the University of Liverpool, has made a major advance in the development of a diagnostic test for oesophageal cancer.  The findings, achieved at STFC's ALICE accelerator facility, will lead to major improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of the disease.
Oesophageal cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the world and around 8,000 people are diagnosed every year in the UK.  It is an extremely difficult cancer to diagnose and is highly aggressive.  Patients often present when the tumour is at an advanced stage, when surgical removal is no longer possible.
CBISentiment among the UK’s small & medium-sized manufacturers fell for the third quarter running in the 3 months to January, as output stagnated and orders fell against a backdrop of heightened economic & political uncertainty, the CBI said.
MOD: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed the development of a new Royal Navy missile defence system which uses a new UK-developed missile capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 3 and will have the ability to deal with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of around 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometres) over land or sea.
EA: The environmental improvements at the Olympic Park and work to secure a green legacy for future generations have been completed.
WWF: Responding to comments by the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently, WWF said that long-term policy signals and ministerial support were crucial for boosting private investment in renewable energy and the green economy.
PCSPlans announced recently about collecting the money owed to government will mean more private companies profiting from public debt, the PCS union warns.
WO: Wales Office Minister, David Jones is urging Wales’s much-loved seaside towns to apply for their share of the £24m fund Coastal Communities Fund, which has been created to provide struggling coastal communities all across the UK with the funding to support new opportunities that can make their towns prosper.  The fund will be financed by the UK Government from revenues from the Crown Estate’s marine assets.
A variety of organisations from across Wales, from businesses to social enterprises are being invited to apply for funding for projects that will help coastal towns diversify from their traditional offer.  A prospectus setting out eligibility, suggestions of how to use funds and details of how to bid has been published and applications will be accepted in April 2012.
TfL: The specialist unit that responds to emergency incidents on the Tube network will be able to cut through London's traffic more quickly under a trial being carried out with the British Transport Police (BTP). 

The trial aims to halve response times (& therefore increase network reliability) and means that Transport for Londons (TfL's) Emergency Response Unit (ERU) vehicles will travel under the same 'Blue Light' conditions used by police, ambulance and fire services.
DCMS: Some of Britain’s most iconic buildings & locations will appear on transport across the world as part of a drive to attract international visitors to the UK. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt last week launched Britain’s biggest ever tourism campaign, which will place images from the GREAT campaign in 14 major cities.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: A blueprint to streamline the scoping, planning & consenting of offshore renewables developments was published last week. Its recommendations will now be taken forward by Marine Scotland, SNH and other regulatory/advisory bodies. 
ScotGov: A new campaign aimed at encouraging Scots to think about the health effects of regularly drinking above the recommended alcohol guidelines was launched last week. The Scottish Government’s Alcohol Behaviour Change is this year encouraging women to ‘Drop a Glass Size’ in 2012.
WAG: A £4m investment to create job opportunities & thriving local businesses by revitalising town centres in North East Wales has received the green light, Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, has announced.  The scheme is backed with £3m from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.  Further funding will come from the local authorities.
The funding boost will mean that Flintshire and Wrexham Councils regeneration plans for their towns will be stepped up to improve the appearance of the town centres including Buckley, Connah's Quay, Flint, Holywell, Mold, Queensferry, Saltney, and Shotton as well as enhancing other public spaces.
CLGLiverpoolhas become the first city to agree new powers through the City Deals programme, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and Cities Minister Greg Clark announced recently. This landmark deal will create a new enterprise zone near the city centre, provide powers to help get young unemployed people into work and give greater control over land for redevelopment and help build twelve new secondary schools.
City Deals are being negotiated with a number of England's cities.  Instead of being presented with a set menu of measures decided in Whitehall, each city is now able to specify the particular powers they need to meet local needs and priorities.
BIS: The Government has announced a £4.5m fund for England’s biggest cities & colleges to work together to boost adult skills across the country.  The City Skills Fund will be available to the 8 core cities in England (plus London), and their surrounding local enterprise partnership (LEP) areas.
ScotGov: Details of how new budget allocations will be spent were unveiled by Finance Secretary John Swinney in the Scottish Parliament last week.
BIS: A new Foresight project investigating how to improve anticipation of & resilience to disasters has been announced by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington. 

The project ‘Improving Future Disaster Anticipation and Resilience’ will identify actions (by the end of 2012) that could be taken within the next 10 years to reduce the impacts of disasters arising from hazards up to the year 2040
DCLG: A fund of up to £250m to help support councils to deliver better, more environmentally friendly weekly bin collections for residents is now open.
BIS:  The Government & industry is calling on businesses & public organisations to pay suppliers on time and for small firms to pursue those who put them at risk by delaying.
DEFRA: A £28m Fund to clean up England’s rivers and encourage local wildlife to flourish has been announced by Environment Minister Richard Benyon.
WAG: People with an interest in the Welshlanguage are being invited to apply for brand new roles to help shape the future of the language (closing date is 2 March 2012).
MOD: There has been various media speculation that British troops face only one more summer of major combat operations in Afghanistan after reports of comments made by the US Defence Secretary and French President.
There has been no change to the strategy agreed by ISAF nations in Lisbon in 2010: the process of security transition will continue, with international forces gradually handing over responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces through to the end of 2014.
BIS: Businesses & training providers can bid for a share of £6m from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund, which will support the development of thousands of new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including aerospace, energy and renewable technologies. Bidding will close on 26 April 2012.
DfTTransport Minister Norman Baker has announced £15m of new funding for sustainable travel projects across the country, aimed at promoting economic growth and cutting carbon.
WAG: A Welsh Government campaign to protect children from the harmful effect of second hand smoke in cars has begun. The ‘Fresh Start Wales’ campaign calls on parents and other carers to pledge to keep their cars smoke free, and thereby protect their children from the health risks associated with second hand smoke in a confined space.
DCLGThe Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced £3bn of funding for the Greater London Authority for housing and regeneration in London.
DH: In the future, doctors, nurses and other health professionals could control almost £65bn of NHS funding, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced.
DCMS: Ballot boxes will open on 3 May 2012 for voters to decide on directly elected mayors for England's largest cities, Ministers confirmed last week. The Government believes that elected mayors can provide cities with the strong, visible leadership that will help them prosper nationally and internationally. 
ScotGovPlans to support teachers to improve learning outcomes for children & young people have been announced in response to the McCormac review of teaching employment.


OFT:  Major electrical retailers have offered legal undertakings to improve the way the extended warranties market works, the OFT announced last week.  The promised measures include improving the information these retailers provide to shoppers and the launch of a comparison website. 

Parties wishing to make comments on the proposed undertakings should do so by 7:00pm on Wednesday 7 March 2012.  The OFT expects to reach a final decision on whether to accept the undertakings later this Spring.

As part of the OFT's Know Your Consumer Rights campaign the OFT has produced a short online film to inform shoppers about their statutory rights when buying electrical goods and to encourage them to shop around before buying an extended warranty.

Press release & links ~ market review page & consultation

WAG:  The Welsh Government has opened a consultation (closes on 5 April 2012) on proposals to provide support for those who need help with their Council Tax bill.  The move follows the UK Government announcing plans to abolish council tax benefit and localise support for council tax.  From April 2013 the provision of support for council tax will be devolved to WAG and funding will be reduced by 10%.

Press release & links

WAG:  The Deputy Minister for Children & Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, has launched a consultation (closes on 30 April 2012) on how to strengthen Welsh language services to ‘meet the care needs of Welsh speakers, their families and carers’. 

The Strategic Framework for Welsh Language Services in Health, Social Services and Social Care was launched at Meddygfa Canna Surgery in Cardiff, a GP surgery that recognises that delivering services  through the medium of Welsh is a fundamental element of care for many Welsh speakers.

Press release & links

FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has recently published a report that shows most sale & rent back (SRB) transactions were either unaffordable or unsuitable and never should have been sold.  Consultation on new guidance closes on 29 March 2012
Press release
~ Consultation on new guidance

ScotGov:  Radical changes are being proposed to the way 600,000 houses in the social rented sector are allocated & managed.  The closing date for responses is 30 April 2012.

Press release & links 

FSA:  A Norwegian company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market the oil from a miniature shrimp as a novel food ingredient for use in food supplements.  Views are wanted on this application by Thursday 1 March 2012.

Press release & links

WAG:  Environment Minister, John Griffiths has launched detailed proposals around his decision to establish a single body to manage ’ natural resources.  The aim of the new body will be to ensure the most sustainable & effective management of ’ natural resources.  

Over a 10-year period, it is estimated that the transition from 3 environment bodies could result in savings of up to £158m before costs.  The consultation will close on 2 May 2012.

Press release & links

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

FSA: The Food Standards Agency has produced a Welsh language version of the DVD for those working in butchers shops, to encourage them to think about the type of food safety risks they face in their business and how they should control them.  It focuses on butchers talking about the steps they have taken to reduce food safety risks.
The DVD has been produced as part of the Agency’s response to addressing the recommendations of the public inquiry into the serious outbreak of E.coli O157 in Wales in 2005, and follows the earlier release of the English language version. It can be viewed online or you can order a copy from the FSA.
LSIS: A checklist to assist the further education sector offer higher education courses has been launched.  The FE College/HE Institution Partnership Checklist has been developed by the Mixed Economy Group (MEG) and its member colleges, with support from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS).
ScotGov: Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has reiterated advice for people to guard against the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
CEOPThe UK National Centre for Child Protection is running a campaign to help parents with internet safety. "The risks that children face may have changed but basic parenting skills remain the same" is the central message from the UK’s national centre for child protection - (CEOP) Centre.
ScotGov: New guidance was published last week by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to ensure further joined up working between responsible bodies during a flood event
Flood Risk Management Planning in Scotland: Arrangements for 2012 – 2016 details the involvement of local partnerships & advisory groups, as well as the planned co-ordination with River Basin Management Planning and land-use planning. The guidance sets out the principal arrangements that will support the delivery of flood risk management at the local level.

Annual Reports

PC&PEOlder people are being let down by fragmented care services, says influential group of MPs.  The key to securing better outcomes for older people and other vulnerable groups, and to delivering the required efficiency savings for the NHS is joined up services, say MPs on the Health Select Committee
IfLThe Institute for Learning (IfL) has published its third annual review of continuing professional development (CPD) in the further education & skills sector, its most detailed study so far of the state of CPD in colleges, training providers and adult & community learning.
DfE:  Thousands of pupils are missing out on the opportunity to study the core academic subjects, new figures revealed last week. The revelation comes as the Department for Education publishes over a million items of data - first published by the Coalition Government last year - about the performance of every state school in last year's GCSE exams.  This comes on top of the publication 2 weeks ago of 400% more league table data.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee published its report on the Ministry of Defence: Major Projects Report 2011, on the basis of evidence from the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee said: "The total cost of the 15 largest defence projects continued to rise in 2010-11, by almost £500m. Decisions to delay or cut programmes to save money in the short term continue to lead to increased costs in the longer term and do not represent good value for money. …….

Much of the cost increase over the last decade has been down to the fact that the estimates for large programmes significantly underestimated the real cost”.
ScotGov: The State of the Estate Report provides a comprehensive survey of the NHS estate for the first time. The report will allow a detailed plan to be put together to tackle maintenance costs of £1bn across the estate.  This figure includes over £350m of work needed in non-medical areas and buildings for sale.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee reports on the Whole of Government Accounts 2009-10 on the basis of evidence from HM Treasury.

General Reports and Other Publications

PC&PE: The Home Affairs Committee has published its report into The Roots of Violent Radicalisation recently, the result of a wide-ranging inquiry that began in May 2011.
The Committee concludes that the internet is one of the most significant vehicles for promoting violent radicalism - more so than prisons, universities or places of worship, although direct, personal contact with radicals is in many cases also a significant factor.  Witnesses told the Committee that the internet played a part in most, if not all, cases of violent radicalisation.
ESRCProfessionals who are in close contact with elderly people could soon be in a better position to spot if they are being financially exploited, for example through a lottery scam or by a deceitful relative draining the bank account, thanks to a pioneering new study funded by the UK Research Councils' New Dynamics of Ageing programme (NDA)
TUC: According to a new TUC report published recently (‘Bonus Season’), Ending corporation tax relief for pay & bonuses worth more than 10 times average annual earnings (£26,200) could raise around £1.7bn a year if applied to the banking & financial services sector.
ESRCCultural differences between the West & East are well documented, but a study shows that concrete differences also exist in how British & Chinese people recognise people and the world around them.  ‘Easterners really do look at the world differently to Westerners’ according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 
ACEVO: A new report published recently by the Commission on Youth Unemployment – ‘Youth unemployment- the crisis we cannot afford’ - finds that youth unemployment has reached emergency point. finds that youth unemployment has reached emergency point.
NAO: Equity investors have helped to deliver many public sector infrastructure projects via the Private Finance Initiative and have managed them in ways from which the public sector can learn.  

Against a background of limited information, evidence gathered by the National Audit Office raises concern that the public sector is paying more than it should for equity investment.
UKOCJobseekers who are offline are much less likely to find work, according to a new survey by UK online centres and research agency ICM which reveals that 72% of employers are unlikely to even offer an interview to someone without basic computer and internet skills.

The research also details the top IT skills employers are looking for in new recruits; being able to email (96%), word processing skills (93%), and the ability to search for information online (88%).

Legislation / Legal

HMT: The Government has issued a joint statement with the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States, setting out an agreed approach to the US ‘FATCA’ legislation, which aims to combat cross-border tax evasion.
ScotGovNew rules designed to make it easier for people to make changes to their homes have recently come into force.
HMRCNew powers to tackle employers who try to dodge paying their PAYE or National Insurance contributions (NICs) come into effect from April 2012.
BIS: The Secretary of State for Business has announced a series of measures on UK export licensing designed to make the system more transparent and to allow for the immediate suspension of export licences to countries that experience a sharp deterioration in security or stability.
HMRCThe UK Government’s groundbreaking tax agreement with Liechtenstein - the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF) - which has ensured the UK receives its fair share of tax revenues from UK taxpayers with investments in the principality, has been consolidated recently with the initialling of a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA).
WAG: The Environment Minister, John Griffiths has announced that he wants to pursue new legislation that will help to control dangerous dogs. The Minister said that new legislation might encompass measures for owners or keepers of dogs who have failed to keep their dogs under control and it might also include extending requirements for keeping dogs under control within private premises and ensuring all animals are treated appropriately whatever their breed. 

WAG will also consult on plans for compulsory microchipping in 2012.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: A Eurozone financial transaction tax would not only curb high-frequency and intermediary traders, but could even boost overall GDP, said financial experts at an Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee hearing last Monday.  MEPs also reiterated their support for the idea, although some said that the Commission proposal needs more fine tuning.
Parliament will provide an official opinion to the Commission proposal.   The draft report is to be presented in March 2012 with a committee vote tentatively scheduled for April and a plenary one for May
EU News: A draft law to strengthen the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) was approved by Industry, Research and Energy Committee MEPs last Monday.  

The new proposal would extend & strengthen ENISA's mandate to help the EU, Member States and private stakeholders develop their capabilities & preparedness to prevent, detect & respond to network and information security problems & incidents.
EU News: Since the presentation of its proposal for the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF) last June, the Commission has proposed over 120 changes to ‘simplify the rules governing EU funding for Small and Medium Enterprises, towns and regions, students, scientists and others’.
Last week's communication ‘A simplification agenda for the 2014-2020 MFF’ brings them altogether in one single document.  The key question now is whether the European Parliament and the Member States are ready to make the life of EU funds' beneficiaries easier by reducing the administrative burden on them.
EU NewsFoundations pursue objectives benefiting the public at large.  Their activities focus on areas that are important for European citizens & the European economy.  However, differences between & obstacles in national laws often make the conduct of their cross-border activities costly & cumbersome.
The Commission has presented recently a proposal for a European Foundation Statute to make it easier for foundations to support public benefit causes across the EU.
EU NewsNew EU rules for ‘organic wine’ have been agreed in the Standing Committee on Organic Farming (SCOF), and will be published in the Official Journal in the coming weeks.  

With the new regulation, which will apply from the 2012 harvest, organic wine growers will be allowed to use the term ‘organic wine’ on their labels.  Wine is the one remaining sector not fully covered by the EU rules on organic farming standards under Regulation 834/2007.
EU News: The European Union is at risk of missing its 2020 targets to ‘reduce the number of early-school leavers and increase the share of students completing tertiary education’, according to a report. The crisis is severely affecting young people, with youth unemployment above 40% in some Member States.
The joint EU Council-Commission report, entitled ‘Education and Training in a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe’ shows that quality education is a key factor in preventing unemployment, by providing young people with the skills & qualifications needed to find a job.

The Commission's proposed new programme for education, training & youth, Erasmus for All, responds to this need by opening up more opportunities for young people & teachers to increase their personal development and skills.
EU News: A 2-year reprieve for the EU's ‘Food for the needy’ programme, on which 18m of the EU's most deprived people rely, has been backed by the Agriculture Committee.
EU News: The European Commission and the US has solved one of their most longstanding WTO disputes concerning the US calculation practice of so-called 'zeroing' in anti-dumping investigations.
TUCAttempts to undermine the employment rights of working people in the face of massive austerity could lead to the European Union losing the support of its citizens, the TUC and Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) told the EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Laszlo Andor last week at an event to launch a new joint pamphlet.
The Single Market, Equal Rights? pamphlet -  a series of essays by academics, trade unionists & business representatives - includes the argument that recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) cases and the eurozone crisis have left the single market unbalanced, with common laws & systems for business, but inconsistent rules on workers' rights.
EU NewsEuropean Health & Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli has called on Member States for immediate action to be taken at national level to ensure full & stringent implementation of the current legislation on medical devices.   He has outlined his proposals for a joint plan of immediate measures in a letter written to the EU's Health ministers, asking for their full co-operation in beginning work without delay.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BHF: New research shows that children whose parents drive them to school lead less active lifestyles overall than those who walk, cycle or take public transport.
BHF: A new nationwide ‘Change4Life’ campaign has exposed that drinking slightly over the lower-risk alcohol guidelines can seriously impact long term health.
Diabetes UK: Diabetes UK has launched a new brand to help improve awareness of diabetes, a condition which affects an estimated 3.7m people in the UK, and to better reflect the charity’s dynamic approach to one of recently’s biggest health challenges.
EU News: The Commission has presented recently a proposal for a European Foundation Statute to make it easier for foundations to support public benefit causes across the EU – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc’ section for more information.
DCMS: From Edinburgh to Exeter and from cryptography to contemporary sculpture, 10 museums are in the running for the UK’s biggest prize for arts & cultural institutions. A shortlist of 4 museums will be announced in May 2012 and the cash prize will be awarded on 19 June 2012 – See ‘In the News Section’ for more information.
ACE: Nominations are now open for the National Lottery Awards 2012 - Visit the National Lottery Awards website before Monday 12 March 2012 to nominate your favourite project, or to enter your own project – See ‘In the News Section’ for more information.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRC:  A new campaign will be launched by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) during the next year aimed at people who fail to make tax returns and who are liable to pay tax at the highest tax rates.

In 2 further campaigns, to be launched later in the year, the department will also target tradespeople working in the home improvement market, and people who receive income from buying & selling goods direct to others, or are paid commission.  HMRC will use new technology to search the internet for information about specified, targeted people and businesses.

Press release ~ Related PR

FSA:  In a recent speech to the British Bankers’ Association, Hector Sants, chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, has announced a major milestone in the regulatory reform programme, namely the introduction of a ‘twin peaks’ model operating within the FSA from 2 April 2012. 
Press release & links 

WAG:  Employers across are being urged this week to hire & train young apprentices, despite the tough economic conditions, in order to give their businesses vital skills for survival and growth in the future. 
Press release & links 

WAG:  Disabled employees gain more work opportunities through a new Welsh Government project in conjunction with Remploy.  The 'proof of concept' pilot - set up through the 'xchangewales programme' will see workers carrying out invoice scanning services for Welsh public sector organisations.  The project will run for approximately eight weeks from April 2012.  Local authorities in Merthyr Tydfil, Swansea and Flintshire are taking part.

Press release & links ~ xchangewales programme

Industry News

BIS:  The location of a new £50m centre that will accelerate the commercialisation of green technologies was announced by the Business Secretary Vince Cable last week.  The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult will be headquartered at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow with a second base at the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in the North East of England.

The national centre will focus on technologies for offshore wind, wave & tidal power and is designed to bridge the gap between university research & full commercialisation.  It will have a wide remit and build strong links with centres of excellence, such as Wave Hub and the marine energy park in the South West of England.

Press release & links ~ Related ScotGov PR

ScotGov:  An Innovation Fund which will invest £600,000 over the next 3 years to help support life sciences development, was to be announced last week by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.  This will enable joint working between health boards and local SMEs in order to drive forward innovative clinical research projects.

Ms Sturgeon also announced a strategic alliance between NHS Research Scotland (NRS) and Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc (PPD), which is one of the largest clinical research organisations in the world. 

The alliance will increase the amount of research conducted in , accelerate the development of new medical therapies and enhance health care treatment options for the people of Scotland.

Press release & links

Forthcoming Event

ACE:  If you can't make it to this week's State of the Arts conference in Salford , you need not miss out as you can watch & have your say online.  The conference's morning plenary session will be live streamed from the event between 9.30am and 11am on 14 February.   

You can put your put your question to the panel via Twitter using #sota12 or as a comment via the State of the Arts blog.  To top it all off videos & podcasts from all the State of the Arts sessions will be available online after the event.

Press release & links

STFC:  Talking Science is a series of popular science lectures that take place around STFC sites across the country.  They offer a chance to hear about and discuss some of the hottest areas of science with some of the leading experts.  

You don't need to be an expert or even a scientist to come, they're aimed at everyone.  Attendance is FREE but places must be booked in advance.

Press release & links

NICE:  Sign up to the FREE NICE Annual Conference 2012 public health webinar for your chance to pose questions to a panel of expert speakers.  From April 2013, councils will be responsible for commissioning public health services to tackle a range of issues such as binge drinking, obesity & smoking.

Local authorities will also be tasked
with providing public health advice to NHS commissioners, as part of the government's plans to go further & faster in tackling the causes of premature death & illness and reducing health inequalities.

‘Public Health: Managing the Transition'
is an interactive web-based seminar that ‘will focus on the tricky transition of public health responsibilities from primary care trusts (PCTs) to local government’.  By participating in the NICE webinar (on the 22 February), you will be able to steer the debate on this changing public health landscape and discuss how the new arrangements will affect local authorities.

Taking place on the 14-15 May 2012, the NICE Annual Conference 2012 will feature a dedicated public health stream, as well as a panel discussion on day one on how the NHS and Public Health will fit together.

Press release & links

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