In the News
PC&PE: And the really big cuts are yet to come!!! - The Public Accounts Committee has published a report, which examines recent progress made with cost reduction by central government departments and planning for the current spending review period from 2010 to 2015.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: “ …… Departments need to do better at planning their finances logically, understanding the relationship between costs & outcomes better and not going for the easy option which could most damage frontline services. What is needed is an overarching strategic framework which, among other things, identifies in particular: the impact of a cut in one department on expenditure in another, and the long-term impact on value for money and expenditure of short term decisions to live within budgets”.
According to the report, there are 205 projects in the Government Major Project Portfolio, with a combined whole-life cost of £376bn and annual cost of £14.6bn. 39 of those projects have a delivery confidence rating of 'red' or 'amber/red'.|
However, the system is not yet ‘built to last’. Processes need to be formalised, and the Authority, HM Treasury and departments need to co-operate more if these improvements are to continue. Transparent reporting of project data would also create a more effective & enduring system.
FDA: Union launches Professionalism in Public Delivery project - Around 50 delegates attended the launch of the FDA's 2-year Professionalism in Public Delivery project, which took place in central London on 25 April 2012.
Dave Penman (FDA deputy general secretary) said the new project, which builds on the union's previous skills work, was about helping to deliver "a new way of working for our members". It was, he added, about "looking to the future, not simply looking to the past".
Rowena Fletcher (Civil Service Learning's head of professions & skills development) told delegates that Civil Service Learning (CSL), set up in 2011 to deliver centrally all generic learning and development for civil servants, would provide "a better fit between our strategic priorities and the learning available to people". It would mean, she said, "a big shift away from departments finding their own solutions".
She went on the say that the challenge now facing CSL was making sure "people know about us" and "building the confidence in our offer". Those attending were civil servants, union learning reps and project partners - including the Cabinet Office, Union Learn, community group Third Wave, Skills for Justice and Middlesex University.
For more information about the project, please contact Sean Ruddy (Project Co-ordinator - Professionalism & Skills Project) at the FDA: firstname.lastname@example.org - Direct: 020 7401 5598 - Mobile: 0788 646 1093
CQC: Like the government, the CQC seems to have a touch of omni-shambles - A Care Quality Commission inspector has been dismissed for gross misconduct after an internal investigation revealed that the impartiality of their regulatory judgements had been seriously compromised. This came to light as a result of whistle-blowing information to the CQC. No additional detail can be provided as CQC has now referred this matter to the police.
MoD: Remembering & honouring what the ‘Forgotten Army’ achieved - 18 veterans travelled from across the UK to York recently to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the 1944 Battle of Kohima, in which British & Indian forces helped halt the Japanese invasion of India. It was later described by Earl Mountbatten as probably ‘one of the greatest battles in history’ and it proved to be the turning point in the Burma campaign.
AUK: Don’t fall into the bad habit of not taking at least some gentle daily exercise - Age UK is urging people to ‘boost their bones’ by taking a short walk and getting out in the sunshine for 10 minutes or waking up to a session of light exercise such as Tai Chi for Falls Awareness Week 2012 (18-22 June 2012).
Falls represent a serious problem for older people; they occur in around 30% of over 65s and 50% of those aged over 80 every year, often resulting in serious consequences, both physically & psychologically. In addition to bruising, fractures, and in some cases, death, a fall can destroy confidence, increase isolation and reduce independence.
The Week will highlight the importance of exercise alongside a balanced diet rich in calcium and getting enough Vitamin D through sunshine to build & maintain healthy bones, helping to prevent falls & fractures as we grow older.
Press release & links ~ DH: Balancing the cost of preventive action against the need for health costs to fall
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
TUC: The TUC launched the new 18:18 union fundraising campaign for the Stephen Lawrence Trust when Doreen Lawrence addressed its Black Workers' Conference last week.
The 18:18 campaign, launched 18 years on from the death of Stephen Lawrence, who was 18 when he was murdered, will help to build on the work of the Stephen Lawrence Trust in improving the skills & employability of socially-disadvantaged black teenagers & young adults.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has recently received confirmation of the Government’s policy on student number controls for full-time higher education students for the 2013-14 academic year.
FDA: Rob O'Neill, the FDA's national officer for the House of Commons has responded to comments reported in recent Mail on Sunday by Paul Farrelly MP and other unnamed MPs, about complaints of bullying against Mr Farrelly by 5 staff at the House of Commons.
BP: A new website about Queen Victoria's life, using material from the Royal Archives, has been launched by Buckingham Palace, as an educational & public resource to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
‘Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Scrapbook’, is focused on Queen Victoria’s life & reign, in particular her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It contains documents from the Royal Archives, paintings & photographs from the Royal Collection, as well as audio & film clips.
ACE: Last week saw the soft launch of The Space, a new free digital arts service developed by Arts Council England in partnership with the BBC. At the heart of The Space is a new commissioning model, enabling artists & organisations to film and make work specifically for the main digital platforms. Some are live-streaming their events, others trailblazing new formats, all with mentoring support & training from the BBC where required.
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency wants you to turn up for your driving test, despite the potential for strike action by driving examiners on Thursday 10 May. You should still turn up for your test in case it can go ahead. Not all examiners are union members and those that are might still turn up for work.
ACE: Applications have now opened for funding for a final round of People's Record projects. People's Record aims to capture opinions & reactions to hosting the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games. Grants of up to £1,000 will be awarded to projects, taking place between June & October 2012,
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England is a key supporter Universities Week 2012 which kicked off last week with activities around the UK to highlight the contribution that higher education makes to the Olympic movement, to sport & culture, and to the wider economy & society.
TNA: The National Archives are in the process of replacing their current Catalogue and DocumentsOnline service with Discovery, which is TNA's new catalogue, providing a new way to explore their collections. They will be switching off their existing image delivery service, DocumentsOnline, on Wednesday 9 May 2012. At this point all hyperlinks currently pointing to DocumentsOnline will be redirected to Discovery.
The Catalogue is still available, and will remain so until this summer, but they will be using Discovery as the primary way to search their collections.
PC&PE: The Health Committee has launched an online forum for women affected by PIP breast implants to give their views on the treatment they have received from private clinics or the NHS following the emergence of information about risks associated with PIP implants.
FSA: PepsiCo is recalling some of its Tropicana Kids Orange Juice Drink multi-packs because they contain only water rather than the orange juice blend. The water is affected by microbiological contamination. If you have bought the product, don’t drink it. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice. .
Monitor: Monitor has recently instructed Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to take immediate action to improve A&E waiting times at the Trust. Monitor has decided to intervene to ensure that the Trust makes effective improvements to the delivery of emergency care and addresses all underlying issues that have caused the poor performance. It should be noted that the Care Quality Commission has no outstanding concerns about the outcomes of patient care at the Trust.
HO: Holidaymakers planning to travel this summer should check their passports are valid and leave plenty of time to apply for a new one. The peak period for passport applications has begun, so if you need a new one, you should allow at least 3 weeks for it to arrive and longer if you are applying for the first time.
BIS: If you live in an area with a thriving business community looking to grow & become a real force both here & abroad, then you could be living in the most enterprising place in the UK.
Communities are being encouraged to come forward (entries close 30 May 2012) and take part in a nationwide competition that will see a town, city or area crowned as the country’s most enterprising place.
MoJ: The Ministry of Justice is issuing a warning to the public after an increase in scams where consumers are telephoned or emailed by people falsely claiming to be from the Ministry of Justice.
Scammers trick members of the public by suggesting to the person they're calling that they could be owed money – often for repayment of bank charges, payment protection insurance (PPI), or a court settlement - but first ask for an up front payment from the consumer in order to enable them to receive the money.
DH: Almost 300 former child migrants have been reunited with their families in the UK thanks to the £6m Family Restoration Fund. The fund was launched in July 2010 and is administered & supported by the Child Migrants Trust.
Its aim is to cover the travel costs to help reunite former child migrants, who were sent under school-leaving age from Great Britain & Northern Ireland to Commonwealth countries, with their relatives.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: Local authorities will have a role in shaping & delivering Universal Credit, Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, said recently. The DWP and the Local Government Association have jointly issued a prospectus calling on local authorities to deliver pilots to support residents in preparation for the introduction of Universal Credit in 2013.
Local authorities will be expected to work with DWP, Jobcentre Plus and community groups to support residents during the transition to Universal Credit and to act as examples of best practice to other councils. Pilots are expected to start this autumn ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit in October 2013.
CO: MyCSP Ltd, the first ‘John Lewis style’ business created from a central government service was launched recently by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office. MyCSP Ltd’s Mutual Joint Venture model gives employees a 25% ownership stake, representation at board level and a share in profits.
The new enterprise will be contracted by the Government to administrate pensions for the 1.5m members of the Civil Service scheme. It will ‘cut costs for taxpayers, reaching annual savings of 50% by 2022, while improving the service’.
WAG: Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children & Social Services, has announced a funding package of £2m for 2012-13 to support children & adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) across Wales. The funding will continue Welsh Government support to the Social Services Improvement Agency, which funds a full-time national autism co-coordinator to run the Learning and Improvement Network (LIN).
WAG: Wales is leading the way in the UK for children’s rights as a duty on Welsh ministers to have due regard to the requirements of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The ‘due regard duty’ means that ministers must consider the rights of children & young people in all the decisions they make about new legislation, policies and changes to existing policy.
This is backed by the Welsh Government’s Children’s Rights Measure which identifies how this will work in practice and provides an easy, accessible way for children & young people to challenge the government if they feel their rights have not been taken into account.
Defra: Measures to reduce the risk of bovine TB being spread between cattle are to be strengthened as part of the Government’s plan to eradicate the disease in England. From 1 July 2012 amendments to the rules on cattle movements will come into force, alongside changes to compensation policy, including reduced payments for owners of TB affected herds with overdue tests..
CLG: A new national taskforce will be set up to tackle the issue of ‘beds in sheds’ by taking action against criminal landlords and removing illegal immigrants. Last week, Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green held the first in a series of cross-Whitehall summits with representatives from the police, the UK Border Agency and local government.
The meetings will find ways to close down thousands of sheds & outbuildings being rented out illegally to migrants, including some with no right to be in the UK.
DWP: The Minister in charge of the child maintenance system has promised intensive action against irresponsible parents who have failed to support their children after separation.
It comes as new figures show sharp increases in the use of key enforcement powers against parents who refuse to pay. Child Support Agency data also shows that more than 5,000 past & current CSA cases are over £50,000 in arrears.
DECC: The Government recently launched a consultation (closes on 8 June 2012) on plans to amend the technical regulations that support the provisions in the Energy Act 2008 on decommissioning & clean-up of nuclear sites.
Press release & links
EU News: The European Commission is seeking views (by the 20 July 2012) on how to cut the costs of setting up new networks for high speed internet in the EU. In particular, the Commission wants to explore how to reduce the costs associated with civil engineering, such as the digging up of roads to lay down fibre, and which can account for as much as 80% of the total cost. The Commission believes it could cut the cost of broadband investments by a quarter.
Press release & links
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has recently launched a consultation (closes on 31 July 2012) on establishing a consumer redress scheme, which could deliver more than £100m compensation to investors who were mis-sold the CF Arch cru Investment and Diversified funds.
The FSA’s proposed redress scheme is designed to put investors back into the position they would have been in had they received suitable advice. This is the first time that the FSA has used this power to implement a consumer redress scheme.
Press release & links
BIS: The first review theme for the Government’s Focus on Enforcement campaign is now up & running. For the next 4 weeks, the Government will be ‘focusing on enforcement that affects small businesses in food manufacturing; and inviting companies to feed back their experiences of working with national regulators and local authorities’.
Press release & links
WAG: The first stage in developing a new innovation strategy for gets underway to ensure Welsh businesses get the necessary support to operate in an increasingly competitive global market. Business Minister Edwina Hart is launching the first stage of consultation (closes on 23 July 2012) and urging interested organisations & individuals to contribute to the development of the strategy.
The Innovation Strategy for Wales will build on the Science for strategy launched earlier this year, which identified the need for a current complementary strategy to deal with the commercial exploitation of research and development and also the promotion of innovation.
Press release & links ~ Related press release & links
DECC: The Government has launched a call for evidence (closes on 28 June 2012) to inform a gas generation strategy to deliver a secure & affordable route to a low carbon economy. The call for evidence provides a set of questions to help contributors frame responses. For more information and to submit evidence, visit the DECC website.
Press release & links
MoD: The MOD has launched a public consultation (closes on 31 July 2012) on its proposals to revise two undertakings given in respect of land at Warcop Training Area in Cumbria.
Press release & links
LR: Land Registry has launched a consultation (closes on 27 July 2012) on proposals to change Land Charges legislation that ‘will enable it to provide a wider range of services online, and close down its telephone ordering service for business customers (Telephone Services), which can be used for both Land Charges and Land Registry applications’. Demand for Telephone Services has reduced by 95% and continues to fall.
Press release & links
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has published guidance to help meat processors comply with the moratorium on the production of 'desinewed meat' (DSM) from cattle, sheep & goat bones, which applies from 28 April 2012..
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published new rules & guidance, following consultation, to strengthen the protection for members of defined benefit pension schemes who are considering moving their money into personal pensions. The changes are designed to deal with the FSA’s concern that in most cases a pension transfer is not in the best interest of pension scheme members.
NE: A fresh warning has been issued to store pesticides safely, after a West Norfolk pest controller was prosecuted for keeping them in an unlocked garden shed. Workers who use pesticides are now being warned they risk being prosecuted if they fail to follow the law for storing them safely.
HSE: It's a costly myth that every portable electrical appliance in the workplace needs to be tested once a year. Misleading advice & advertising, often by companies who offer the testing, is contributing to low-risk businesses such as offices, shops & hotels paying unnecessarily for over-the-top maintenance regimes.
The law simply requires an employer to ensure that electrical equipment is maintained in order to prevent danger - it does not state that every item has to be tested or how often testing needs to be carried out. Launching HSE's revised guidance on portable appliance testing (PAT), HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said: "HSE has always advocated a proportionate, risk-based approach to maintenance. This new guidance is simple and clear to follow."
ACE: Arts Council England have published Measuring the economic benefits of arts and culture, a report commissioned by ACE and written by BOP Consulting. The report aims to provide arts & cultural organisations with guidance about undertaking or commissioning studies into the economic benefits of their work, and the information needed to apply research methodologies in appropriate and consistent ways.
NAO: Amyas Morse, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), has qualified his audit opinion on the Arts Council England's 2010-11 Grant-in-Aid financial statements and the Lottery financial statements.
MoJ: HMP East Sutton Park provides very good outcomes for the women it holds and the public as a whole, according to a report of an announced inspection of the women’s open prison in Kent.
PC&PE: The civil service has made progress in recognising the importance of engineering according to a new report from the Science and Technology committee, but MPs remain concerned that few examples of good practice were highlighted across Government Departments.
Although the Government has formed the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) community, it is still unclear how many engineers are employed in the civil service and whether enough engineers are engaged in policy development.
PC&PE: The Backbench Business Committee has recently published a special report outlining the experiences of the Committee and setting out options for its future operation. Since the Committee was set-up in June 2010, backbench MPs have had the opportunity for the very first time to bring forward debates of their choice.
The report reflects on the challenges the Committee has faced, principally the shortage of back-bench time available, the demands generated by e-petitions, and the difficulty in scheduling debates in advance.
OFT: OFT recommendations to improve cancellation rights have saved consumers about £8.5m a year in doorstep sales, according to an independent evaluation. The evaluation by GHK Consulting looked at the impact of the OFT's 2004 market study into doorstep sales. The study focused on legitimate rather than 'rogue' or 'bogus' doorstep traders.
General Reports and Other Publications
CBI: The CBI has responded to the Department for Business (BIS) consultation (closed on 27 April 2012) on shareholder voting rights.
IPPR: Without reform to the energy market consumers could miss out on as much as £1.9bn in 2020 in cheaper energy bills, according to a new report published by the think tank IPPR last week. The report argues that tougher regulation of the energy market is needed by regulator Ofgem to improve competition and to ensure that pricing is fairer for consumers.
It argues that Ofgem’s own evidence gives no indication that the ‘Big Six’ energy companies have achieved efficiency savings and passed these savings onto consumers through lower bills, as would be expected in a competitive market.
IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies considers how gains by Islamist & tribal candidates in Kuwait's recent legislative elections are likely to set the nation on a more conservative path and threaten to destabilise sectarian harmony.
PC&PE: Fundamental reform of ATOL – the consumer protection scheme for holidaymakers – is needed, according to a report published last week by the Transport Select Committee. Changes introduced by the Government that come into effect last week do not go far enough. Holiday sales by airlines must also be covered & fairer, more efficient and comprehensive arrangements are needed.
NIESR: Workplace representation of employees by unions & works councils is less widespread in the UK than in most other European countries, according to a report published by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
The UK ranks 21st out of 27 countries in the European Union in terms of the proportion of workplaces where employees have access to union or works council representation, raising questions about the ability of British workers to have a voice at the workplace.
IISS: Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies looks at how advances in neuroscience promise to transform medicine, education, criminal justice and other fields. Militaries are among those interested in its potential: they have long sought ways to enhance the performance of troops on the battlefield, as well as to improve selection & training of personnel and the medical treatment of trauma victims.
Press release & links
PX: Is there a north-south divide political divide? A major study into public attitudes by Policy Exchange explores this issue and finds that social differences in England today are as much about town & country as north & south. The report – Northern Lights – examines the new political & social geography of England.
It reveals that, whatever their real occupations, people living in the north perceive themselves as more working class than their southern counterparts. For example, skilled manual workers – C1 voters – in the north see themselves as working class, while in the south the same group describe themselves as middle class. Overall, 51% of northerners saw themselves as working class compared to only 38% of southerners.
GSCC: The General Social Care Council has launched its new report (The supply of social work practice placements: Employers’ views) which analyses the views of employers on the provision of practice placements for social work students.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its report on equity investment in privately financed projects. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "When a public authority chooses to fund a project using private finance it must be able to demonstrate that this was the best way to deliver real value for money for the taxpayer, not just a way to keep the project off the balance sheet.
For too long, public sector authorities have treated 30-year PFI contracts as the only game in town. This has to end. The current model of PFI is unsustainable. ……… The Treasury has now embarked on a rethink and that must be radical, producing a qualitatively different policy”.
ESRC: Steep rises in taxes on alcohol do not necessarily reduce consumption, according to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council into the history of intoxicants in 16th & 17th century England.
Dr Philip Withington at the University of Cambridge has found that affluence rather than poverty has tended to drive consumption levels, especially among the middle classes & higher, even though legislation & enforcement is often focused on the poorer parts of the population.
CBI: The UK economy will see growth resume in the second half of 2012, with faster GDP growth during 2013, according to the latest quarterly CBI economic forecast. While inflation is expected to be somewhat higher than previously thought throughout 2012, in part due to recent oil price rises, it should continue on a downward trend and come close to hitting the Bank of England’s target in the spring of 2013.
NO: The London Borough of Lambeth failed to act as ‘corporate parent’ to a girl with multiple disabilities & complex needs, and Surrey County Council failed to arrange therapy services for her, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
JRF: People in Northern Ireland are caught between the impact of the recession and a programme of austerity & welfare reform, according to new research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The report, Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland, found poverty in working households and poverty among pensioners has increased.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has welcomed a report published recently on outward student mobility. The report, by a group led by Professor Colin Riordan reviews current incentives, financial support & obstacles to outward student mobility. It also includes recommendations on how to ensure that mobility increases in the future.
NE: Putting green infrastructure such as parks, gardens and trees at the heart of neighbourhoods can bring significant economic benefits, according to a Natural England study.
Far from being an expensive luxury in difficult economic times, devoting areas of towns & cities to nature can actually bring important savings for the public purse. The findings come from a comprehensive review by Natural England of a number of studies into the economic value of green infrastructure.
IPPR: Increasing electoral turnout is not just a nice idea, it is something we must actively strive for if elections are to serve the needs of all citizens…. So how can we increase rates of electoral participation, particularly among ‘hard-to-reach’ groups such as the young and the poor?
The IPPR propose to make electoral participation compulsory for first-time voters only. Voters would be compelled only to turn out – and would be provided with a ‘none of the above’ option. The logic behind this proposal is that people who vote in the first election for which they are eligible are considerably more likely to vote throughout their lives.
Legislation / Legal
ICO: A Welsh health board has become the first NHS organisation to be served a monetary penalty following a serious breach of the Data Protection Act, the Information Commissioner’s Office said last week.
The Aneurin Bevan Health Board (ABHB) has been issued with a penalty of £70,000 after a sensitive report - containing explicit details relating to a patient’s health - was sent to the wrong person. The error occurred when a consultant emailed a letter to a secretary for formatting, but did not include enough information for the secretary to identify the correct patient.
PC&PE: A House of Lords committee report urges the Government to Opt-In to new Directive on Proceeds of Crime. The Committee has scrutinised the draft Directive, which restates & amplifies the provisions of EU law that set out the minimum measures Member States should adopt for freezing & confiscating the proceeds of crime; measures that are of great importance in the fight against serious organised crime.
BIS: The Sunday Trading Bill has received Royal Assent for Olympic Games. The Bill, which was announced in the Budget 2012, will mean that shops with a relevant floor area of more than 280 square metres will not be subject to current Sunday trading restrictions during the Olympic & Paralympic Games.
The suspension will only be for 8 Sundays, from 22 July to the end of the Paralympic Games on 9 September. After this period the current Sunday trading restrictions will apply again.
EC: The Electoral Commission has concluded its assessment of allegations that Sarah Southern, Peter Cruddas or the Conservative Party breached donation law. The Commission found no evidence to support the allegations and will not be opening an investigation into the matter.
In order for an offence to be committed under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA), a real arrangement to assist the making of impermissible donations has to be in place, as opposed to a fictitious one. No donations were in fact made and the Commission therefore determined that there had not been a breach of the PPERA.
ScotGov: The Justice Secretary has welcomed the Stage 1 Report on the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill.
HO: The Home Office claims that unwarranted state intrusion into private lives will be brought to an end after the Protection of Freedoms Bill became law recently. It will curb local authority snooping, see the destruction of DNA samples and profiles given by innocent people and radically scale back the employment vetting process which would have routinely monitored 9.3m people. Commencement orders enacting measures in the Act will begin from early July 2012.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has introduced a new Bill to the Scottish Parliament as part of its 4-year ‘Making Justice Work’ Programme. The Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill is the first in a series of legislative measures to be taken forward under the programme.
Making Justice Work draws together a range of reforms across criminal, civil & tribunal justice. The goal is to ensure the justice system better meets the needs of those it serves - the people of Scotland – through a series of improvements to make it fairer, more accessible, cost-effective and efficient.
MoJ: The Government’s plans to ‘reduce re-offending, reform the legal aid system and tackle the growth of compensation culture’ can start to be put into action following the granting of Royal Assent recently for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. The measures in the Act will be enacted in stages over the next year.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: New drugs were detected in the European Union last year at the rate of around one per week, according to the EMCDDA–Europol 2011 annual report on new psychoactive substances released recently.
EU News: The European Commission has given the United Kingdom 2 months to comply with European Union rules on the free movement of EU citizens & their families across the EU or face an EU court.
EU News: Under the 'Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings', suspects of a criminal offence will be informed of their rights in a language they understand. The measure will ensure that EU countries will give anyone arrested – or subject to a European Arrest Warrant – a Letter of Rights listing their basic rights during criminal proceedings.
Once it will have entered into force (2 years after it is published in the EU's Official Journal – which is expected to take place within weeks), the new law will apply to an estimated 8m criminal proceedings every year in all EU 27 Member States. Currently this right only exists in about one third of Member States.
PC&PE: UK citizens are accustomed to high standards of legal protection at home and they should enjoy similar when they are elsewhere in the European Union, says the Lords Justice and Institutions EU Sub-Committee in its new report, published recently.
With so many more people moving through EU countries, there is a higher likelihood of British citizens becoming caught up in the criminal justice systems of other EU Member States, either as defendants or victims.
In their report, the Lords agree that the new ‘roadmaps’ of EU legislation, which will establish minimum rights for defendants & victims alike, are the best way to protect British people from any possible legal problems abroad.
ScotGov: The communiqué agreed at the recent EHEA Bologna Process conference reinforces Scotland’s commitment to keep access to university free, Education Secretary Michael Russell said recently.
Mr Russell, had 1 to 1 meetings with the Austrian, Irish & UK Education Ministers and the EU Commission’s Director for Higher Education & international Affairs to discuss cross-border flows of students, with agreement to share information on student destinations after graduation with the Austrian Government and the European Commission.
ScotGov: The Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and the Environment Committee recently published its report on the proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
EU News: The Commission has recently stepped up calls on Member States to ensure that the ban on individual sow stalls is fully applied from 1 January 2013.
Council Directive 2008/120/EC on the protection of pigs requires that sows & gilts (immature female pigs) are kept in groups during approximately 2 months and a half of their pregnancy in all pig holdings keeping 10 sows or more from 1 January 2013. As a result, pigs will be moved from individual narrow stalls to more welfare friendly systems.
PC&PE: Too much EU development aid is going to middle income countries, like Turkey & Serbia, and not enough is reaching the world's poorest people & poorest countries, according to a report by MPs on the International Development Committee.
The UK spends approximately £1.23bn each year on aid through the EU, approximately 16% of the UK's total aid budget. Only 46% of this aid, however, goes to low income countries - a figure that MPs say is 'unacceptable'. Instead middle income countries bordering Europe are benefiting. Turkey has consistently been in the top 5 recipients of European Commission aid (€223m in 2010) as has Serbia (€218m in 2010).
PC&PE: Concerns over the willingness of the Treasury to hand back funds to the EU were raised last week by council leaders during an evidence session of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.
EU News: The Commission has set out a plan to give children the digital skills & tools they need to benefit fully & safely from the digital world. The internet was not designed with children in mind, but today 75% of children use the internet, a third of them on mobiles.
The new strategy is to build up the market for interactive, creative & educational content online, in a partnership between the European Commission and Member States, mobile phone operators, handset manufacturers and providers of social networking services.
PC&PE: Europe is not doing enough to protect itself from the threats to water resources in large parts of the continent, says the Lords Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment EU Sub-Committee in its new report.
The Committee's report (An Indispensable Resource: EU Freshwater Policy) warns that urgent action is required to safeguard water quality & availability in the UK and many areas of Europe which are already suffering from the effects of a significant lack of rain. And in order for this to happen, the Committee says that governments may have to allow the cost of water to rise.
The Committee also calls for the Government to bring forward the deadline for reforming the water abstraction regime, outlined in its Water White Paper. The Committee thinks that delaying this reform for at least 15 years fails to respond to the urgency of the situation.
EU News: The functionality of a computer program and the programming language cannot be protected by copyright. The purchaser of a licence for a program is entitled, as a rule, to observe, study or test its functioning so as to determine the ideas and principles which underlie that program.
EU News: The European Commission is seeking views (by the 20 July 2012) on how to cut the costs of setting up new networks for high speed internet in the EU – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
CRUK: An astounding lack of public awareness
about lung cancer has been revealed in a Cancer Research UK
study, published recently. When almost 1,500 people were asked to
list possible warning signs of the disease that is the most
common cause of cancer death - only 5% mentioned a cough that
doesn’t go away.
BHF: A simple test that measures blood oxygen
levels is the most accurate way of screening newborn babies for
congenital heart defects, according to a new
meta-analysis. Analysis of 13 previous studies concluded that this
screening method, called pulse oximetry, should be adopted internationally
as part of routine tests on all newborns.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: The deadline is looming for UK employers to get their 2011/12 annual returns to HM Revenue & Customs. Employer Annual Returns, which provide information on employees’ tax & national insurance deductions during the tax year, must be sent online to HMRC by the 19 of May 2012.
Employers must file an EAR – a P14 for each employee and a P35 summary sheet – and they must do this online (with some very limited exceptions). To help you get the return right first time, HMRC has published a list of common errors to avoid on its website.
WAG: Business Minister Edwina Hart has welcomed the news that Cardiff Aviation Ltd – a new business headed by Iron Maiden singer & aviation entrepreneur Bruce Dickinson – is set to create hundreds of jobs in South Wales.
Cardiff Aviation has taken a lease on the Welsh Government owned 132,000 sq ft Twin Peaks hangar at St Athan to establish a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operation.
As well as maintenance of airliners and other large aircraft for several major & independent airlines, Cardiff Aviation will have facilities to complete the full range of ancillary aircraft maintenance & training activities and has the expertise & approvals to certify aircraft from many jurisdictions, including the USA.
Press release & links
WAG: The Welsh Government and Organic Centre Wales have teamed up to organise a farmers’ market, at the WAG offices in Aberystwyth, as part of the activities to mark Europe Day on 9 May 2012.
The market, which will be open from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, will showcase some of the best organic & local produce in West Wales including fruit and vegetables, shitake mushrooms, eggs, preserves, flour, bread and cakes.
The market is funded by the Better Organic Business Links (BOBL) project which provides opportunities, information & training for businesses in the Welsh organic sector to help them deliver better profitability, sustainability and exemplary environmental performance.
NICE: The NHS landscape has changed dramatically in the last 12 months and adapting to the pace of change remains a huge challenge for those working in health & social care. Taking place on the 15-16 May 2012 (at the ICC in Birmingham0, the NICE Annual Conference 2012 will focus on the strategic issues surrounding the reforms as well as drilling down to the details of daily challenges.
With over 1,000 delegates expected to attend, this year's conference is set to be the biggest yet, with eight conference streams, over 70 speakers and two days of discussion and networking opportunities.
STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Councilis building upon its previous & highly successful challenge led calls (PNPAS (Particle and Nuclear Physics Applied Systems) and CLASP (Challenge Led Applied Systems Programme) in order to harness skills & technology originally developed to address fundamental research questions to provide solutions to the global challenges.
The call for 2012 will focus on supporting solutions to challenges in the environment domain.and in order harness skills & technology originally developed to address fundamental research questions to provide solutions to the global challenges. The will .
The key aim of this call is to accelerate industrial take-up & operational deployment of key technologies by funding the de-risking (including production of technical demonstrators where appropriate) of technologies and systems applicable to the key environment challenges focused but not limited to the following areas:
* water security
* air quality & greenhouse gases
* smarter systems to reduce pollution & waste
The application is a 2- stage process with brief Outline proposals required by the 6 September 2012. If you would like to find out more and meet suitable project partners please register for a place at the information day, which will be held on the 10 July 2012.
ACE: The vision for the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, taking place on 29 August 2012, was announced recently. Entitled 'Enlightenment', the ceremony will celebrate the inspirational spirit of the Paralympic Games and will challenge perceptions of human possibility.
It will feature an adult volunteer cast of over 3000, a children volunteer cast of over 100, and a professional cast of over 100. Signalling the start of the event will be a flypast by Aerobility, a UK charity that trains disabled people to become pilots.
In the lead-up, 50 specialist performers will participate in an Arts Council England-funded 8-week circus skills programme. Based at Circus Space in Hackney, the programme will see disabled performers, including established artists & people new to the arts (such as rehabilitating soldiers & non-competing Paralympians), learn circus arts skills.
ACE: Now in its fifth year, Culture24’s Museums at Night will see over 200 different activities taking place in hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives & heritage sites over the weekend of Friday 18 to Sunday 20 May 2012.
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