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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

OfstedLet’s face it most parents still provide support even after their children leave home - The After Care report published by the Children’s Rights Director, Roger Morgan, looked at views from 308 care leavers both who had recently left care and those still in care but preparing to leave.  

The main messages from care leavers this year were that nearly half of those surveyed felt they left care too early and were not prepared well enough to leave.
Looking at the survey report findings many care leavers said they wanted help with money & practical support as well as learning about how to obtain and use their important documents such as passports, birth certificates and national insurance card.  One care leaver complained about not being able to get a job due to not having their national insurance number.

DfEBetter yet, look to solve the problem with speedier adoptions - The Prime Minister has set out proposed changes to legislation to ensure that, when adoption is in a child’s best interests, they are placed in loving homes as soon as possible.  The Government has also published an Action Plan for Adoption to overhaul the system for prospective adopters and strengthen the performance regime for local authorities.
Just 3,050 children found new homes through adoption last year, the lowest since 2001.  A recent survey showed that one third of adopters were not satisfied with their experience of the adoption system.   Research has shown that with every year that a child waits their chances of being adopted decreased by 20%.
DECC:  Dealing with waste safely, not cost, is the real issue for nuclear power - The Government has published the response to its consultation on how potential sites for geological disposal of higher activity waste in England will be identified & assessed
It also published a Framework document which sets out a high-level description of the desk-based site identification and assessment process and the criteria that will be used.
Alongside this, the Government announced the Triennial Review of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) and is seeking the views of stakeholders who wish to contribute to the Review (by 2 April 2012).
Separately, the Government has published a strategy for waste planning bodies, regulators and waste producers on solid low-level radioactive waste (LLW) from the non-nuclear industries (such as hospitals and universities).  This provides further guidance on our policy to encourage the disposal of such low level waste locally, where suitable permitted facilities exist.
HLCombinations of problems need joined-up solutions - A group of leading charities has welcomed the Social Justice Strategy (Social Justice: transforming lives) and its focus on better coordinated support for individuals facing a combination of problems such as mental ill health, substance misuse, homelessness and contact with the criminal justice system.
The Revolving Doors Agency and the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition - formed of Clinks, DrugScope, Homeless Link and Mind – are pleased to see clear references in the strategy for better co-ordination of local services to support these individuals.
DFIDThe alternative to scientific research could be starvation - The Department for International Development has won Best Technological Breakthrough at the Climate Week Awards for a project to develop drought-tolerant maize in Africa. The new kind of maize needs far less water in the soil than normal maize.  As well as growing it year round, it also means the maize can withstand times of severe drought.
Press release ~ Drought-tolerant maize ~ Sowing the seeds of scuba rice ~ Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) ~ Oxfam: Growing a Better Future   ~ Defra: Food (scroll down)  ~ Global food security ~ BIS - GOS: Food ~ BBSRC: Food Security ~ Climate Change & Food Security: Health Risks and Vulnerabilities of the Poor in Bangladesh ~ Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund ~ The Role of Relevant Basic Education in Achieving Food Security and Sustainable Rural Development ~ Assessing Water Risk: A Practical Approach for Financial Institutions ~ IISS: The simmering food crisis  ~ Report: Common Agricultural Policy after 2013 ~ Parliament: Agriculture & food security ~ The World Food Programme and Global Food Security ~ Foresight: Global Food and Farming Futures ~ Foresight: Land Use Futures ~ UK Cross-Government Strategy for Food Research and Innovation ~ EFRA Committee report on securing food supplies up to 2050 ~ Ensuring UK food security in a changing world ~ United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ~ FAO - Special programme for food security ~ Chatham House - UK Food Supply in the 21st Century: The New Dynamic (plus related documents) ~ Eldis – Food Security ~ Oxfam: Food security documents ~ Global Food Trends - Overview ~ FIVIMS - Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping ~ Christian Aid: Fighting food shortages – Hungry for Change ~ Action Aid: Failing the Rural Poor
HMTMeanwhile the cost of food, heating & other essentials of life go up in price - The Government has accepted the recommendations of Pay Review Bodies for public sector pay awards for 2012-13.  

In line with the announcement made in the June Budget 2010, public sector workers covered by the Bodies earning a full time equivalent of £21,000 or less will receive a pay increase of £250. Those earning over £21,000 will have their pay frozen.  At the Spending Review 2010 the pay freeze was forecast to save £3.3bn a year by 2014-15.
BISHopefully fewer organisations will deliver more competition - A single Competition & Markets Authority, which will simplify & strengthen the competition landscape, was announced by Business Minister, Norman Lamb last week.  

The new independent body will bring together the Competition Commission (CC) and the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to form the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
BISUpdate on item from last week - Lord Davies of Abersoch has published the first annual progress report on his review of Women on Boards.  Cranfield School of Management’s Female FTSE report, also published last week, notes that should current momentum be maintained, a record 26.7% female board representation in FTSE 100 companies would be achieved by 2015.
EU NewsWhy don’t we just forward all complaints about national government cuts to MEPs & the Commission? - EU budget payments for 2013 must not be capped ‘artificially’, without any reference to real budgetary requirements, MEPs warned EU Member States in budget guidelines voted in last week.
If the Council continues to cut payments artificially during this year's budget procedure, "it should clearly and publicly identify and justify which of the EU's political priorities or projects it believes could be delayed or dropped altogether", say MEPs.

Video case study: -   Public Sector mobile apps meeting the expectation of citizens on the move - The phenomenal rate of growth of smartphone adoption shows no sign of easing. The growing number of 3rd party web sites and apps available to report government issues provides citizens with a choice they didn't even have a year or so ago - the ability to report issues using non-government procured systems. While on the one hand, this can seem to be a serious problem, it is clear that it provides citizens with choice, which provided it can be managed efficiently, is a good thing.

Public Sector organisations are becoming increasingly keen to explore how to best harness smartphone technology in order to better understand and respond to citizens’ needs and run their service operations more effectively. Lagan Mobile provides public organisations with an opportunity to brand, launch and control your own free mobile app for issue reporting. Find out how to:
  • Empower citizens to report and track issues, from abandoned vehicles, to fly tipping, to graffiti, while on the move.
  • Ensure the right people receive reports at the right time with intelligent routing, based on levels of authority and service delivery targets.
  • Improve citizen satisfaction and engagement whilst reducing the cost to serve.
Click here to view the 'Mobile Solutions for Public Sector' video presentation and to receive the latest case study on the 'Report It' app in action for North Ayrshire Council.

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

General News

ACE: Details of a series of Renaissance National programmes offering wide-ranging support to regional museums have been announced. The programmes include:
* Accreditation & Designation schemes
* Subject specialist networks
* National collections purchase programmes
* other initiatives, such as national campaigns to build new audiences & strategic digital support.
GPS: Following recent announcements regarding Remploy, the Government Procurement Service has confirmed that current Supported Factories & Businesses framework services are not affected at present.
LSIS: Unique bi-lingual interactive Deaf awareness training, created & led entirely by Deaf learners, has been launched by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. Referred to as the learner voice, it has been developed to be a powerful & authentic way for practitioners to gain an insight into what good teaching & learning is about.

This training led by Deaf learners, and facilitated by interpreters, provides an opportunity for participants to understand the challenges & barriers faced by Deaf learners in the FE & Skills sector. The phrase Deaf (with a capital D) refers to people who identify themselves as culturally deaf, and have a strong deaf identity.
Unite: The privatisation of the court & tribunal interpreting service is ‘hampering the justice system for those that don’t have English as their first language’. Delays in court appearances have soared as the majority of registered interpreters are refusing to work for a cost-cutting subsidiary of the controversial outsourcing company, Capita.
Unite, the union & 5 other professional interpreting organisations (representing 2,343 registered public service interpreters) have launched a campaign to get the service brought back in-house by the Ministry of Justice.
MCA: An angling boat had to be rescued last week after it got lost in fog in Swansea Bay. The 22-foot angling boat was on its way home from a fishing trip when the fog thickened and they became disorientated. They contacted Swansea Coastguard to report that the GPS on board wasn’t working and, as the tide was going out and they couldn’t see where, they were they had decided to drop anchor and wait for the fog to lift.

Swansea Coastguard sent Mumbles RNLI Lifeboat and, after 90 minutes searching, the lifeboat found the angling vessel and brought it safely back to Swansea Marina. The MCA recommends that all inshore boats should be fitted with VHF DSC radio equipment which can send a distress alert and, if it is linked up to a GPS, an accurate position of your vessel to the Coastguard with one touch of a button.  You should also carry flares.
Unite: England’s ‘ridiculously low’ number of school nurses may be overwhelmed by millions of school-aged children texting for appointments, Unite, the union, has warned.  The government has announced that it wants the 7m state education children to text school nurses to make appointments.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, was also critical that recommendations about the recruitment of school nurses in England made 8 years ago have still not been met. Unite repeated its call for the employment 2,000 more qualified school nurses over the next 4 years, so that every secondary school in England has a specialist school nurse.
NE: A conservation project underway in South West England aimed at securing the future of one of Britain’s rarest butterflies is proving to be a success, thanks to the creation of special ‘butterfly corridors’ and the revival of traditional woodland management.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is warning food businesses to be on their guard following a recent spate of bogus phone calls from someone claiming to be employed by the FSA. The caller says an environmental health officer (EHO) will make a visit in the next fortnight to update the pub’s manager on new food legislation and asks for their mobile phone number.  They then say they will text the manager within 48 hours of the visit to confirm arrangements.
Visits to food businesses are arranged by local authorities, not the FSA, and most hygiene inspections are unannounced, with EHOs introducing themselves once they arrive at the business.
PCS: The government's first attempt to force some of its staff to form a 'mutual' organisation has received another setback and is now nearly a year behind schedule. The move to impose mutualisation on My Civil Service Pension - the government agency that administers the pensions of 1.5m working & retired civil servants - was first planned for July 2011, and then put back twice before finally being set for the end of this month.
Staff, who have already taken strike action against the plans, have now been told it will not happen until the next financial year.  Added to the further legal & financial complications this brings, it will mean massive upheaval as MyCSP attempts to oversee the government's imposed changes to civil service pensions from 1 April 2012 - which the union is also opposing.
ScotGov: A strategic board to oversee reforms of veterinary surveillance in Scotland has been created, following recommendations from an independent review.  In November 2011, former National Farmer’s Union Scotland president John Kinnaird published his review, with proposals to improve the way vital information on animal disease is gathered, analysed and shared. The creation of a strategic management board – including industry & veterinary representation – was one of his key recommendations.
TfL: Residents & businesses along the routes of the London 2012 Games' road cycling, triathlon, marathon & race walking events will, from this week, receive detailed information on how they will be affected and can plan to get ahead of the Games.  Road events in London will take place on 7 of the 16 days of the Olympic Games and on 1 day of the Paralympic Games..
Details of how & when the events will impact on the road network in these areas is being provided through a campaign of letter drops, road shows & publicity, delivered by Transport for London (TfL) in partnership with London 2012 and London boroughs on road event routes. 
MoD: New technology is helping to advance the recuperation of injured Service personnel at the Tedworth House Personnel Recovery and Assessment Centre.
RoSPA: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is offering councils the opportunity to extend its Make it Safe campaign across Scotland - highlighting the dangers of looped blind cords to parents & carers of young children.  
RoSPA is aware of at least 22 blind cord deaths in the UK since 1999 (with 11 tragedies since the beginning of 2010).   Its research indicates that most cases happen in a bedroom, when the child, typically aged 16-36 months, is expected to be asleep.
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive has announced that its cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention, is going ahead but will now not start in April 2012. The scheme sets out to recover costs from those who break health & safety laws for the time & effort HSE spends on helping to put matters right - investigating and taking enforcement action. Law-abiding businesses will be free from costs and will not pay a penny.
Detailed guidance for employers & organisations will be available on HSE's website ahead of implementation. A practice run of the new processes & procedures underpinning the scheme is already underway in HSE will continue until the scheme is implemented.
HO: The public will be able to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee for longer after Parliament approved plans to allow pubs, bars and other licensed venues to stay open until 1am.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: Details of 2 schemes that will unlock the aspirations of a new generation of home buyers, and get Britain building thousands of new homes, were unveiled last week by the PM and Housing Minister Grant Shapps. Mr Shapps declared the NewBuy Guarantee open for business - a scheme that will enable an estimated 100,000 prospective & existing homeowners to buy their dream home with smaller deposits than currently required.
At the same time, the Minister announced details of the reinvigorated Right to Buy, which will give up to 2m social tenants the opportunity to buy their council home with a discount of up to £75,000 and, for the first time, ensure that additional properties sold are replaced with new affordable homes for rent.
DfTUtility companies who take too long to complete their road works will face higher charges, Transport Minister, Norman Baker has announced.  Currently, the maximum daily overrun charge is £2,500, depending on the type of works and the sort of street being occupied. 

From 1 October 2012 this will rise on the busiest roads to £5,000 a day for the first 3 extra days, rising to £10,000 a day from the fourth extra day onward.  Councils must spend overrun charge income on implementing transport policies.
Defra: A new £20m scheme to help provide work-based training for rural businesses has been announced by Farming Minister, Jim Paice. Rural businesses often find it hard to access the best vocational training courses. Defra’s Skills and Knowledge Framework, provided through the Rural Development Programme for England, will offer a subsidised vocational training programme to help improve business skills.
NE: Farmers in England are being given the chance to teach children about life down on the farm by applying for funds to install facilities for school & youth groupsEducational access capital funding through the Higher Level Stewardships scheme (HLS) is available to help provide items to improve visitor access to farms such as classrooms, washroom facilities and access furniture such as kissing gates.
Farmers in HLS who can demonstrate the potential for their farms to host high quality educational visits for school children or care farming clients should contact their local Natural England Land Management Adviser by 30 June 2012 to apply for the funding.
WAGUnlocking the energy from our seas, making sure the £bns of investment delivers jobs, helping businesses maximise opportunities and ensuring communities benefit from energy developments are among the commitments included in the Welsh Government’s vision for energy - ‘Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition’.
BISProposals to widen business access to new & alternative sources of finance (particularly for small & medium-sized enterprises) have been published by the independent Taskforce on non-bank lending.
The report anticipates growth in demand for finance as the economy recovers, and the expected constraint on availability from banks as they deleverage could create a finance gap for businesses of £84bn - £191bn over the next 5 years.
Ofsted: Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has issued a national challenge to drive up stalled standards of literacy & English.  1 in 5 children do not achieve the expected literacy levels by the end of primary school – 100,000 pupils last year alone – rising to 1 in 3 pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.  1 in 7 adults, as many as 5m people, lack basic literacy skills.
DfE: Schools Minister Nick Gibb has announced a new national award scheme to ‘recognise the top achievers in every secondary school in England – and those showing great potential’. The award, open to all maintained secondary schools, will see teachers selecting a Year 9 pupil as their Dux (Latin for leader or champion). They will be rewarded with a visit to one of the 20 current Russell Group universities.
Further details of the Dux Award can be found on the Department's website.  Registration will then open immediately after the Easter break on Monday 16 April 2012. 
CO: A new deal with one of the Government’s biggest IT services suppliers, Capgemini, will help lead to savings over £200m, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announced last week. The agreement is the latest in a series of contract renegotiations with large suppliers that will secure more flexible contracts and better deals & prices for taxpayers.
HO: Immigration Minister, Damian Green has announced that every passenger on non-European Economic Area (EEA) flights travelling to the UK will have their details checked using the e-Borders system, which collects & analyses information on passengers & crew intending to travel to or from the UK before they travel.
DFID: More than 17,000 health workers will be trained by UK volunteers to provide emergency care for mothers & newborns, with new support from UK aid. The British-backed 'Making It Happen' scheme teaches lifesaving skills for dangerous pregnancies and wider health issues to local medical workers. It is designed to improve delivery care and reduce the shocking number of lives lost in pregnancy & childbirth.
HMT: Lord Hutton of Furness has set out his proposals for comprehensive, long-term structural reform of public service pension schemes.  The final report of the Independent Public Services Pension Commission follows a comprehensive 9-month review. It sets out a number of detailed recommendations to the Government on how public service pensions can be made sustainable & affordable in the future, while providing an adequate level of retirement income.
The main recommendation of the report is that existing final salary public service pension schemes should be replaced by new schemes, where an employee’s pension entitlement is still linked to their salary (a “defined benefit scheme”), but is related to their career average earnings, with appropriate adjustments in earlier years so that benefits maintain their value.


BIS:  Businesses impacted by rising energy prices will have the opportunity to provide information & data that will shape a £250m Government scheme aimed at alleviating their electricity bills.  The Government has issued a call for evidence (by 4 May 2012) in support of the Energy Intensive Industries (EII) Package.  Once sufficient data is gathered, the Government will formulate policy, consulting in September 2012, for implementation in Spring 2013, subject to state aid rules.

The programme aims to reduce the impact of energy & climate change policies on the cost of electricity for those energy intensive industries whose international competitiveness is most affected by them.  Government estimates predict that energy & climate change policies may add up to 28% in 2020 on average electricity prices paid by large energy intensive users.

Press release ~ Call for evidence

WAG:  Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services & Children, has launched a public consultation (closes on 1 June 2012) on the Social Services (Wales) Bill, a major piece of legislation that is ‘set to transform the delivery of social services in .  The proposed Bill aims to give people greater freedom to decide which services they need while offering consistent, high-quality services across the country.

Press release & links

BIS:  The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has launched a consultation (closes on 27 April 2012) on measures to give company shareholders greater influence over executive pay, through enhanced voting rights.  This follows extensive discussion with business leaders, investors, academics, governance experts and a range of others, who agree there is a problem with rising executive pay which is not linked to performance.

Press release & links

HEFCE:  The Higher Education Funding Council England has published a consultation report (closes on 6 June 2012) that ‘sets out the lessons learned from collaborations, alliances & mergers ( CAM ) in higher education, and proposes guidance for universities & colleges that may be contemplating such arrangements for the future’

By consulting on this report, HEFCE hopes to: enrich its content with further evidence from the sector; stimulate challenge to the conclusions it draws; and identify areas where further guidance would be helpful.

Press release & links

FSA:  The Food Standards Agency is asking businesses to provide their views on the use of lactic acid to reduce microbiological surface contamination on beef carcasses, proposed in a draft EU regulation.  If authorised, the use of lactic acid on beef carcasses would be permissive rather than mandatory. A vote on the Commission regulation is expected in spring 2012.

The FSA will review the responses to determine whether a formal Regulatory Impact Assessment is necessary.  Responses are required by 5pm on Friday 30 March 2012.

Press release & links

EU News:  The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the state aid criteria it proposes to use to assess Member States' film support schemes in future. The criteria are set out in a draft Communication, on which the Commission invites comments by 14 June 2012.  The final Communication is due to be adopted by the Commission in the second half of 2012.

Press release & links

CLG:  Plans to make it easier for council tenants to take control of their local neighbourhood and services were announced last week by Housing Minister, Grant Shapps.  The consultation (closes on 23 May 2012) Giving Tenants Control: Right to Transfer and Right to Manage Regulations, introduces new regulations on Right to Transfer and proposes streamlining the existing Right to Manage regulations.

Press release & links

HO:  The Home Office has launched a consultation (closes on 14 June 2012) on how to allow everyone to have a civil marriage.  People will be able to have their say on the proposed changes by completing the online survey.

Under current law same-sex couples can have a civil partnership but not a civil marriage.  The government wants to make the right to marry in civil premises, like a register office or hotel, available to everyone.  No changes are proposed to religious marriages.  This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman

Press release & links

BIS:  Proposals to examine the current dismissal process have been announced by the Government with the publication of a Call for Evidence (closes on 8 June 2012). Views are also requested on the idea of compensated no-fault dismissal for micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees

The Government have also published the Employment Law Review annual update in the Houses of Parliament, outlining how the review has been taken forward.  The report summarises the current programme and looks ahead to further areas BIS are considering as part of the Review. 

In addition, it was also announced that the Employer’s Charter, first published in January 2011, has been updated to include pointers on sickness absence & recruitment.  The Charter aims to counter the misconception that employment protections are all one-way - towards the employee.

Press release & links ~ TUC comment ~ CBI comment ~ CIPD comment 

FSA:  EFSA is calling for scientific data on certain food additives to assist it in developing safety assessments. EFSA is encouraging any interested parties and stakeholders to submit relevant information (published or unpublished).  There are different deadlines for specific areas (see press release).

Press release & links

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

LBRO: The Local Better Regulation Office is highlighting the importance of the 5 Priority Regulatory Outcomes as a way of promoting the valuable role local regulators play in their communities.  PROs (formerly National Enforcement Priorities) set out what local & central government want to achieve - regulation that supports prosperity & delivers protections.
To help get the message across, it has produced an information sheet to explain their significance for elected council members. LBRO has created a step by step guide to the measuring the outcomes & impacts of different regulatory activities to support these priorities: the LBRO Outcomes and Impacts Toolkit.

Annual Reports

BISLord Davies of Abersoch has published the first annual progress report on his review of Women on Boards.  Cranfield School of Management’s Female FTSE report, also published last week, notes that should current momentum be maintained, a record 26.7% female board representation in FTSE 100 companies would be achieved by 2015.
Press release ~ Lord Davies’s Review of Women on Boards ~ Cranfield Female FTSE100 report (2012)
HEFCE:  The higher education sector is facing a period of significant change over the next few years, as new arrangements for teaching funding are introduced.  However, it does so from a position of financial strength, according to the Higher Education Funding Council England, which has published a review of HE sector finances.
Monitor: Monitor has published its review of NHS foundation trust performance for the third quarter of 2011/12.
DH: A New Children’s Health Services Atlas shines a light on differences in care.  The NHS Atlas of Variation in Healthcare for Children and Young People maps out the variation in healthcare for 27 different child health issues across England.
DWP: There are further signs that the labour market is stabilising despite the tough economic climate, according to new figures published by the Office for National Statistics last week. Although unemployment showed a rise of 28,000 compared to the previous quarter, it was 5,000 below the headline figure published last month.
Unemployment in the UK remains below the European Union average while employment remains above the EU average. While ILO unemployment is 8.4% in the UK, it is 10% in France, 23.3% in Spain and 10.1% across the EU as a whole.
DWP: More than one third of people going through incapacity benefits reassessment have been found to be fit for work, according to the first set of official statistics released last week. Figures for the first 141,100 incapacity benefits claimants to start the reassessment process show 37% of those whose claims have been concluded have been found fit for work. The remaining 63% of claimants were entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

General Reports and Other Publications

EA: Water companies & farmers, as well as businesses & consumers, must take action now to protect water supplies from a prolonged drought, says a new report from the Environment Agency.  

The EA’s Drought Prospects report warns that the drought could spread as far north as East Yorkshire and as far west as the Hampshire – Wiltshire border, if the dry weather continues this spring. The whole of the south east and east Anglia are already in drought.
TUC: TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber warned that the coalition government is the 'most female-unfriendly in living memory' when he addressed delegates at the TUC Women's Conference last week.
The report shows that with many thousands of skilled professional women in the public sector set to lose their jobs, the concentration of female private sector employment in low-skilled & poorly paid sectors poses a big challenge to their pay & career prospects.
DfE: Professor Cathy Nutbrown has published an interim report, which explores how to help people working in the early years to improve their skills, knowledge & development.  Professor Nutbrown is considering how to strengthen qualifications & career pathways for people working in early education & childcare.
STFC: A team from The Naked Scientist have produced their first podcast about STFC’s Central Laser Facility’s (CLF) superfast laser Artemis. The media – savvy group of doctors & researchers from Cambridge University (collectively known as ‘The Naked Scientists’) have been using radio, live lectures and the internet to ‘strip science down to its bare essentials’ for the public for over 10 years now.  Listen to the podcast to hear more of Artemis being laid bare.
TUC: Many of the UK's lowest paid workers will be unable to afford to enforce their workplace rights if the government's proposals for fees for employment tribunals go ahead, the TUC has said.  New research commissioned by the TUC reveals that most single people paid the minimum wage will not have to pay to go to a tribunal. However a significant proportion of those earning £6.08 an hour, who are part of a couple, will be required to pay up to £345 or more to enforce their basic workplace rights.
This is because the test for the ability to pay will be based on household income rather than an individual's earnings. This assumes that all household income is shared equally between a couple. The TUC does not agree that a woman's capacity to enforce her individual rights should depend on her partner's consent.
TUC: The Chancellor must acknowledge the economic case for reversing his austerity plans and introduce bold measures to support investment and young people to get the economy up and running again, says the TUC budget submission published last week.
TUC: Just over 350,000 parents, the majority of whom are likely to be women, could lose vital national insurance credits towards their state pension if child benefit is withdrawn for higher rate taxpayers, the TUC has claimed.
Recipients of child benefit currently receive credits towards their state pension if they are caring full-time and not in work.  These credits, available until a child is 12, ensure that caring & parenting is fully recognised in the state pension system.
NAO: The National Audit Office has published its report on the management of ‘early departures’ of staff in central government. The report finds that central government departments have spent around £600m gross on the early departures of 17,800 staff in the year from December 2010.  These costs are around 45% lower than they would have been under the previous Scheme.  After meeting the initial costs, departments will save an estimated £400m a year on the paybill.
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported on the competition, cancelled in October 2011, to design, construct & operate the UK’s first commercial-scale carbon capture & storage project.  The report concludes that the competition had been a high risk & challenging undertaking launched with insufficient planning & recognition of the commercial risks.
DECC: An independent report has been published advising the government how it could best tackle the problem of fuel poverty. The latest official fuel poverty figures show 4m households in England in fuel poverty, compared to 1.2m in 2004
Professor Hills is clear that fuel poverty is currently measured in a way that is both flawed & unhelpful and he has proposed a new way to define fuel poverty, separating the extent of the issue (the number of people affected) from its depth (how badly people are affected).
ESRC: The United Nations (UN) global carbon market requires substantial reform because it too often fails to support the projects & people it is meant to help, according to new research from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
PXFathers who no longer live with their partners and are on benefits should be made to work if they refuse to take financial responsibility for their children.  A new report by leading think tank Policy Exchange says that the government should target these individuals and fast track them on to work experience schemes to try and get them back into the labour market.  Men who refuse to participate should have their benefits removed.
CIPD:  In its latest Work Audit report, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) looks at the impact of the jobs recession that began in 2008 on employers, workers and the economy as a whole.  
PX: The Chancellor should announce radical tax simplification in the Budget, with the aim of developing a 3-year flat tax for all start-up businesses.  The report – Financing Innovation – argues that the Government should consider allowing new businesses to bypass all the current complexity on charges, reliefs, rates & exemptions and instead deal with a simple flat tax.  While a move to a single rate & allowance should not amount to a tax break, it would give business owners real clarity about their maximum tax liability each year.

The report also recommends a new model for extending finance to young entrepreneurs who want to start a business.  A new Enterprise Kickoff Fund would provide small start-up loans on commercial terms to young people who would otherwise struggle to obtain finance, and in return receive a small equity stake in their business.
Press release & links
PC&PE: The Government should lift 2 key restrictions on the operation of the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) as a matter of urgency, according to a report published by the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

Legislation / Legal

ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served a monetary penalty of £70,000 to Lancashire Constabulary after papers containing sensitive information about a 15 year old girl were found on a street in Blackpool. This is the first penalty the ICO has served to a police force.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: More & more EU citizens are exercising their right to live and work anywhere in the European Union, with around 8m people of voting age currently residing in an EU country other than their own.  As EU citizens, they have the right to vote or stand as a candidate in local elections in the EU country in which they live.
However, only around 10% currently take advantage of this right, according to a new report published by the European Commission. To make sure citizens are able to fully exercise their electoral rights, the Commission will therefore work with national, regional & local authorities to identify & resolve any remaining difficulties in effectively applying this right.  The proposal for a European Year for Citizens in 2013 provides a good opportunity to make EU citizens' rights better known.
Defra: Ongoing pressure from the UK for tougher controls to tackle the illegal trade in rhino horn has proved successful, as the European Commission announced further restrictions on the export of rhino horn across the EU last week.
The temporary suspension of trade in ‘artistic items’ will mean nearly all future applications for the export of rhino horn will be refused.  Licenses will only be granted if buyers & sellers meet stringent criteria.  We do not expect the suspension to be lifted until it is successful in reducing poaching and demand.   
EU News: Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility & transport, announced last week the winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge on European multi-modal journey planners. The initiative aimed to promote the development of all-in-one journey planners, going beyond national borders and offering travel options combining different transport modes.
EU News: Recently the Commission proposed new rules for more effective & widespread confiscation of funds and other property acquired through crime. This will enhance the ability of Member States to confiscate assets that have been transferred to third parties, it will make it easier to confiscate criminal assets even when the suspect has fled and will ensure that competent authorities can temporarily freeze assets that risk disappearing if no action is taken.
EU News: In adopting a new proposal on accounting of greenhouse gases emissions, the European Commission has taken a first step towards incorporating removals & emissions from forests & agriculture into the EU's climate policy.
Forests & agricultural lands cover more than 75% of the EU territory and naturally hold large stocks of carbon, preventing its escape into the atmosphere, which makes them important for the climate policy.  Increasing this 'trapped' carbon by just 0.1 percentage point – for example through improved forest or grassland management - would remove the annual emissions of 100m cars from the atmosphere.
EU News: The European Commission has welcomed the WTO appeal ruling in the ‘Boeing case’ which confirms that billions of dollars in US subsidies granted to Boeing are illegal under WTO rules.  The EU now expects the US to fully comply with this ruling and to implement the findings & obligations by withdrawing these injurious subsidies or their adverse effects.
EU News: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have published the second joint EU report on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria affecting humans, animals & food.
EU News: Following the Cohesion Policy proposals of 6 October 2011, and in order to help Member States with their preparations for the next programming period the Commission has recently presented the ‘Common Strategic Framework’ (CSF).  It is intended to help in setting clear investment priorities for the next financial planning period from 2014 until 2020 in Member States and their regions.
EU News: The European Commission has approved a UK measure, which aims at reducing the cost of finance for SMEs, until 30 June 2012.  The Commission found the National Loan Guarantee Scheme to be in line with the crisis State aid rules for banks, because it ensures that the reduced funding costs which banks will benefit from are passed on to SMEs. .  
The Commission also cleared a second measure, the Business Finance Partnership, aimed at increasing the credit supply to SMEs through non-bank lending.
WAG: An EU-backed project helping thousands of people into work is to be rolled out across the Heads of the Valleys following a £3.5m boost the Deputy Minister for European Programmes. 

The £13.4m QWEST (Quality Work, Employability, Skills and Training) project, led by the University of Wales, Newport, has been given the go ahead to continue for 2 more years and expand to cover Merthyr Tydfil and Rhonda Cynon Taf.  It already operates across Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is asking businesses to provide their views on the use of lactic acid to reduce microbiological surface contamination on beef carcasses, proposed in a draft EU regulation – See ‘Consultations’ section for more in formation.
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the state aid criteria it proposes to use to assess Member States' film support schemes in future – See ‘Consultations’ section for more in formation.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

DH: 74 charities including the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Epilepsy Society and the Spinal Injuries Association will get a share of more than £6.8m to test & develop innovative approaches to improve health & wellbeing, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced last week.
BIG: Projects to help survivors and those at risk, of domestic violence are among those sharing over £7m in National Lottery good cause funding from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).  Some 35 projects across the country have been awarded funding from BIG’s Reaching Communities programme, which aims to help those most in need and build stronger communities.

Business and Other Briefings

CO: The Government has announced further measures to support SMEs to win Government business, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announced recently.

Industry News

FSA:  The Food Standards Agency in Scotland is inviting tenders to carry out a desk-based research study to provide evidence to support the development of a monitoring programme for emerging marine biotoxins in live bivalve mollusc (shellfish) in waters.  Applications should be submitted online, using their electronic procurement system, by 5pm on Thursday 26 April 2012.

Press release & links

DECC:  Permission was granted last week for a new 150MW dedicated biomass power station at Royal Portbury Dock in the Port of Bristol , North Somerset.  The consent allows E.ON Climate and Renewables to construct a plant which could provide enough electricity to power up to 160,000 homes. The plant will be fuelled mainly by imported virgin wood, dedicated energy crops and locally sourced waste wood.

E.ON will also set up a Community Investment Fund, which will contribute £50,000 per annum for every year that the plant is operating, to support charitable and/or educational community projects. £75,000 will also be allocated to trial green buses and improve cycle routes in the local area.

Press release & links ~ E.ON Climate and Renewables

DECC:  Energy Secretary, Edward Davey, has launched a competition worth up to £20m to fund the development of innovations in Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) technology.  Bids are being invited to develop better & cheaper CCS components & systems for pilot scale demonstration.

Press release & links

BIS:  Business Minister Mark Prisk has named Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as a flagship trailblazer for retail.  The LEP – run by economic development company GFirst – will develop & pilot a range of retail initiatives such as Portas Review recommendations and those that will emerge from the Government’s Retail Growth Strategy.

The Minister has also outlined the Government’s plan to create a simpler, single consumer bill of rights in place of the current 12 different sets of consumer legislation.

Press release & links

WAG:  Business, Enterprise Technology & Science Minister Edwina Hart has recently announced an up to £100m Welsh Life Sciences Fund, which will transform the Life Sciences sector in .  The Welsh Government is putting £25m into the fund immediately, to enable the Fund to make its first investments into businesses this year.

Press release & links

GPS:  The new online CloudStore provides a cheaper, quicker & more transparent way to procure cloud-based ICT services, including email, word processing, system hosting, enterprise resource planning, electronic records management, customer relationship management or office productivity applications

In this first tranche of the G-Cloud service catalogue you can now purchase around 1,700 ‘off-the-shelf’ IT services from CloudStore on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis rather than having to develop your own systems. This model means you can use what you want, when you want it, saving money by avoiding duplication of services that cannot be shared.

Press release & links

Forthcoming Event

DCMS:  A portrait of Lord Byron’s daughter and a series of humorous videos featuring ladders & doors are among the works in the 4th public display from the Government Art Collection (GAC).  The latest part of the GAC exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery features works chosen by non-political members of staff at Downing Street, as well as archive material related to the collection.

Government Art Collection: Selected by Downing Street Staff, which is FREE for members of the public to view, runs until 10 June 2012.  The Story of the Government Art Collection, which includes rare documents and previously-unseen records, runs until 2 September.

Press release & links

WAG:  Environment Minister, John Griffiths, has announced that 3 events will open the 870 mile / 1,400km Wales Coast Path on Saturday 5 May 2012 (a Bank Holiday weekend).  Celebratory opening events will be held at Flint Castle in North Wales, Aberystwyth Promenade, Ceredigion in Mid Wales and South Wales’ event will be at Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff Bay . Detailed arrangements for the events will be announced soon.

Ramblers Cymru are organising the Big Welsh Coastal Walk, to celebrate the official opening of the Wales Coast Path. The Big Welsh Coastal Walk will be a series of led walks along the Coast Path over its opening weekend. The aim is to get as many people as possible walking around the coast of in the largest mass participation event has ever seen. 

Press release & links

STFC:  Do you work in the health, energy, environment, security or engineering sectors?  Find out how particle accelerators could help your business at our showcase event ('Accelerating Science, Accelerating Business') at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s  Daresbury Laboratory on 17 April 2012.

Press release & links

ACE:  The Arts Council and The National Trust have launched the 2012 programme for Trust New Art - a series of exhibitions, events, artists' residencies & commissions which situates work of contemporary artists in National Trust places.  Over 1m visitors have seen Trust New Art at more than 50 National Trust houses, gardens and landscapes across England since the programme began in 2009.

Press release & links

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