You are viewing our public content
You can sign in or register for additional services

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

No,10Coalition Part 2: Marital Strife? - The Government's priorities for the coming parliamentary year were set out in the Queen's Speech 2012 last week at the official State Opening of Parliament.  Economic growth and reducing the deficit were some of the key priorities highlighted in the Speech.
MoD:  Why didn’t Labour order much cheaper, smaller & more versatile STOVL carriers rather than ones 3 times the size of those they replace? - Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that plans to deliver Carrier Strike capability will now be executed using a different type of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jet than was planned.  The MOD will move away from the Carrier Variant (CV) JSF and our Armed Forces will instead operate the short take-off & vertical landing (STOVL) variant.
DWP:  Benefits paying for essential need rather than ‘wants’ - Letters were sent last week to households who may be affected by the benefit cap.  The letters will set out the intensive help that will be provided to get people into work as well as exemptions to the cap, online help and an information helpline.

The benefit cap comes into effect in April 2013 and will limit the amount of benefit couples and lone parent households can receive to around £500 a week or £26,000 a year – the equivalent of the average household income after tax or a gross household salary of £35,000.   Benefit claims for single people will be limited to around £350. There are several exemptions to the cap (see press release).

From October 2013, tax credits & benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Income Support will start to be merged into a single Universal Credit payment.
DWP:  Benefits of cheating have higher cost for claimants - Ministers are now able to fine benefit cheats up to £2,000 (with a minimum penalty of £350) without having to take them to court.  This measure, part of the Welfare Reform Act, is expected to save the taxpayer an estimated £42m over the next 3 years.

Low level fraudsters will now face these additional financial penalties alongside paying back any money they have stolen.  Cautions will no longer be an option, meaning no fraudster escapes without punishment.  Other penalties coming into effect in the future to cut down on fraud & error include:
* Extended loss of benefit for offences, which result in a conviction, of 13 weeks for a first offence, then 26 weeks for a second offence and 3 years for a third offence
* An immediate 3 year loss of benefit for serious or organised benefit fraud or identity fraud
* A new £50 civil penalty in cases where claimants negligently give incorrect information on their claim or fail to report a change in circumstances which results in an overpayment
PC&PE:  SN(a)P decision on referendum called into question - In an interim report from its inquiry into a referendum on Separation for Scotland, the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee says that, based on the evidence it has received, it has "no choice but to conclude that the question currently proposed by the Scottish Government is biased".

The Committee received evidence which showed that the outcome of a referendum can be changed by changes to the wording of the question.  None of the witnesses to the inquiry thought that the SNP's plan to set the question, the timing and the rules of the referendum was either acceptable or fair.

Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said: 
“We cannot have a contest in which Separatists are both player and referee.  That goes against every notion of fairness and transparency”. 

All the witnesses agreed that the Electoral Commission, which is experienced & neutral, is the appropriate body to ensure that this referendum is as fair as possible.  The Committee recommends that the Electoral Commission should have that responsibility, and that all sides should take its advice. 
VSOSend people who bring skills rather than money that on partially reaches those in need - Thousands of vulnerable mothers & babies across Malawi are to receive better health care thanks to the new Health Partnership scheme managed by Tropical Health & Education Trust (THET) and funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) to send volunteer midwives & nurses through VSO UK.

Over the next 3 years, experienced nurses & midwives from the UK will volunteer in Malawi and pass on their skills to health workers in the country, helping to save the lives of thousands of people.  Malawi needs improved nurse training & management of health services to tackle its high maternal mortality rate of 510 deaths per 100,000 births.  Each year mothers & children are dying of preventable conditions because they are not getting the right care in under-staffed and ill-equipped hospitals. 
EU News:  At last, some good financial news from the EU - The cost of using mobile phones, smartphones and tablets when travelling abroad within the EU will fall sharply from 1 July 2012, under an agreement with the Council endorsed by Parliament on last Thursday. 

The new rules will also enable clients to buy roaming services from suppliers other than their home service suppliers and open up the market to new entrants, so as to boost competition and thus reduce prices.
VOA:  If only new ICT worked properly from the word go - The recent telephony problems have required the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to implement a revised & temporary process for our customers calling the VOA's English switchboard number 03000 501501.  They are answering calls within an average of 1 minute and if customers need to speak to someone in one of their valuation teams, they are ensuring that they receive a call back within 24 hours.

You can still get hold of them quickly & easily by simply sending an email directly to your local office (see contact page).
Press release & links

Forthcoming Event: Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit | 11 - 12 June 2012 | London - Everything about CRM is changing. Social media and the use of mass market mobile devices have gone into overdrive.

The concept of "big data" is beginning to forever alter the relationship of technology to information consumption. Amidst all of this change, there is one certainty: it will be mandatory, not optional, for organizations to address and embrace these trends.

The Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit will give you the insight, ideas and inspiration to cut through the confusion and realize your organization’s CRM potential. This Summit shows you how to:

  • Get smarter by collecting, analyzing and acting upon the vast array of unstructured customer data now available
  • Think socially, about how customers want to engage with each other and with your organization, enabling more open and mutually beneficial relationships
  • Be mobile-orientated, so core sales, marketing and service processes can be executed on customers’ new preferred channel

Click here to view the full agenda and to register.

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

General News

STFC: A new mission to explore Jupiter and its icy moons has been approved by the European Space Agency (ESA).  The mission will reveal fresh insights into the habitability of the ‘waterworlds’ orbiting the giant planets in our solar system & beyond.
DfT: Commuters will enjoy improved journeys and benefit from 2,400 extra seats during the morning & evening peaks thanks to Government funding for an additional 48 rail carriages.   The carriages will be used to boost capacity on South West Trains services travelling into Waterloo by an extra 40 carriages in the morning and 37 carriages in the evening.
ScotGov: A FREE smartphone app celebrating The Queen’s reign in Scotland will be among a series of events & initiatives launched by the Scottish Government to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee this summer, First Minister Alex Salmond announced last week.
ACE: Successful applicants to the first round of Art Council England’s new strategic touring fund were announced last week, with a total of just over £3m being shared across 9 recipients. The strategic touring programme is designed to increase access to the arts, especially in places with low levels of arts engagement and those that that rely on touring for much of their arts provision.
ACE will award a further £12m over the next 5 rounds of the strategic touring fund and a total of £45m of lottery funds will be awarded over the next 3 years.
NE: A County Durham farmer is leading the field in providing young people with the chance to learn about life down on the farm. Around 25 education groups already visit Ulnaby Hall Farm each year and with the opening of a new classroom, Ian is hoping that the number will more than double.  Thanks to funding from a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme - one of Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship schemes - Ian can provide educational visits free of charge.
MoD: A team of wounded British servicemen & women arrived back on home soil recently after a highly successful week competing in the US Warrior Games.   The annual event hosted by the US Olympic Committee, saw wounded, injured & sick Service personnel and veterans competing in 7 paralympic sporting events in Colorado from 30 April to 5 May. The trip was supported & funded by the UK charity Help for Heroes.
FDA: FDA members in the more senior grades of the civil service have voted to accept the deal negotiated with the Government for new pension arrangements from 2015.  
Dave Penman, FDA Deputy General Secretary, said:  "This result should not be interpreted as an endorsement by FDA members of the new scheme. FDA members remain deeply unhappy about aspects of the changes and the Government's approach to pension reform”.
ACE: The Arts Council has recently announced funding for 9 organisations that will provide valuable development support for regional museums. The successful applicants to the Museum development fund will provide a national network of professional advice to all museums, particularly supporting smaller museums.
Applications for the Subject specialist network fund are now open, for grants of between £1,000 & £10,000 from a total annual fund of £150,000 for 2012/13. The fund is aimed at supporting the sharing of knowledge and expertise of specialist collections across the country. Applications must be submitted no later than 5pm on Friday 8 June 2012.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

WAG: Wales is the first country in the world to have a continuous path running along its coastline. The recently ‘completed’ 870 mile Wales Coast Path is expected to attract an extra 100,000 visitors to Wales every year.
As well as enjoying spectacular coastal scenery visitors will be able to visit 24 Cadw managed historic monuments along the Path, including iconic Caernarfon Castle, Harlech Castle and St Non’s Chapel. Last year Lonely Planet recommended the Welsh coastline as the no.1 region in the world to visit in 2012.
ScotGov: Hundreds of millions of pounds are to be spent across Scotland on increasing the supply of affordable housing, creating jobs and boosting the economy. The announcement will see all of Scotland’s 32 councils receive a share of almost £582m in subsidy over the next 3 years.  This is part of ScotGov’s investment of at least £710m in the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP).
MoJ: Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly met with business leaders recently to launch ‘Justice for Business: Supporting Business and Promoting Growth’.   

The new paper outlines how the Government’s reform programme is making the justice system more effective, less costly and better for business. The reforms include ‘streamlined court processes, improved regulation of legal services and reduced burdens on business through cheaper and easier dispute resolution’.
WAG: The Minister for Education & Skills, Leighton Andrews, has announced new initial teacher training (ITT) incentives for eligible students undertaking postgraduate courses of further education (FE) in the 2012/13 academic year.
Defra: Defra has announced the launch of the 2012/13 air quality grant programme, with funds of £2m to support local authorities in tackling air pollution, in particular, reducing Nitrogen Dioxide emissions.  Poor air quality harms health and can impact on ecosystems.  Traffic emissions – one of the main sources of Nitrogen Dioxide – are often at the root of this problem.  
Eligibility for the grant will be limited to English local authorities with one or more Air Quality Management Areas for NO2 or those authorities where the Government’s national air quality assessment in 2010 identified a high level of NO2 emissions in their area.  Deadline for submission of grant applications is 22 June 2012.   .   
WAG: Environment Minister, John Griffiths has announced an extra £1m to ‘strengthen ecosystems and help make Wales’ natural environment more resilient to the effects of climate change’. The funding will support projects that deliver better outcomes for habitats & species, as well as projects aimed at tackling invasive, non-native species, such as Japanese Knotweed.  
The Ecosystem Resilience, Diversity and Compliance Fund funding will be delivered through the Countryside Council for Wales and the Wales Biodiversity Partnership. The application window for projects closes on Friday 1 June 2012..
Defra: Thousands of farms & rural businesses have a second chance to boost their business prospects with £ms in grant support. Applications will be invited for grants to enable businesses to buy new machinery & develop green projects, or for remote areas to get superfast broadband to help transform their businesses and the wider community.
The grants total £40m and mark the opening of the second round of the Rural Community Broadband Fund  (closes on 6 July 2012) and the publication of guidance to a second wave of applicants to the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (closes on 17 July 2012).
HO: Policing & Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert wrote to officers across England & Wales ahead of the Police Federation march in London to set out the government’s agenda for policing.

CLG:  Whitehall departments are set to ‘smash’ the Prime Minister's ambition to release previously-used public land for building the homes this country needs, Housing Minister Grant Shapps said recently.  New figures show that Ministers have identified enough surplus public land, such as empty offices, unused storage or empty public service buildings, to build up to 102,000 homes.

Press release & links


ScotGov: Patients & members of the public are being asked for their views on plans for them to receive more treatment closer to home as a consultation (closes on 31 July 2012) on the integration of health & social care launched last week.
The integrated approach aims to cut unnecessary hospital admissions, reduce the number of people being delayed in hospital longer than they should, and to meet the target of a 4-week maximum wait for discharge to be achieved by April 2013, and a 2-week maximum delay by April 2015.
HEFCE: Yesterday the Higher Education Funding Council England launched a consultation on the introduction of a more risk-based approach to quality assurance in higher education in England, in response to the Government’s White Paper, ‘Students at the heart of the system’.
Higher education & further education institutions, students & other interested parties are invited to respond to the consultation by 31 July 2012.  Consultation events will be held on 18 June in London and 21 June in Birmingham.
WAG: A Welsh Government Green Paper seeking views on proposals to legislate in relation to issues affecting the public service workforce in Wales has gone out to consultation (closes on 31 July 2012). Proposals within the Green Paper aim to ‘secure public service workforce expertise and deliver a fair deal for public service workers’.).
Press release & links
EU News: The European Commission is calling on citizens all over the European Union to help set the policy agenda for the next years and shape the future of Europe in the biggest ever EU public consultation on citizens' rights (closes on 9 September 2012), during which time the public will be asked about the obstacles they face in exercising their rights as EU citizens, be it when travelling in Europe, when voting or standing as a candidate in elections or when shopping online.
The public consultation comes ahead of the 2013 European Year of Citizens and the input received from the public will feed directly into the Commission's policy agenda and form the basis for the 2013 EU Citizenship Report, to be presented on 9 May 2013..
WAG: Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has launched Together for Mental Health, the Welsh Government’s strategic approach to mental health & mental wellbeing (consultation closes 31 July 2012). 

It aims to accelerate the momentum & achievements of recent years and will help to deliver the wider ambitions outlined in the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government and Together for Health and Sustainable Social Services for Wales; A Framework for Action
A quarter of the population in Wales will experience mental health problems or mental illness at some point. It can affect anyone at any time of life and can have an enormous effect on family members, friends and work colleagues.
FSA: A Swiss company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market a carbohydrate derivative known as methylcellulose as a novel food ingredient for use in a range of foods.  Views are wanted on this application. Any comments on this draft opinion should be emailed to by Friday 25 May 2012. .
EU: News: The European Commission is inviting stakeholders to submit their views (by 27 July 2012) on ‘the future of the guidelines on the application of the EU antitrust rules to maritime transport services’.  These guidelines will expire in September 2013.

The Commission's competition department takes the preliminary view that specific antitrust guidelines in the maritime transport sector are no longer needed.

Press release & links
WAG: Wales is set to lead the way in encouraging people to walk & cycle more with the launch of the White Paper for the Active Travel (Wales) Bill. The Bill, which is a key transport commitment in the Programme for Government, will make it a legal requirement for local authorities to plan fully integrated transport networks.
The key aim of the Bill is to see local authorities enabling & encouraging more people to walk & cycle in Wales by connecting key sites such as hospitals, schools and shopping areas with traffic free routes & cycle lanes. The consultation closes on 14 August 29012..
LC: The Law Commission has published a consultation paper with their provisional proposals for reform of the legal framework relating to taxis & private hire vehicles. Consultation closes on 10 August 2012..
WAG: The Welsh Government is seeking views (by 18 July 2012) on proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill which would place a legal requirement on organisations delivering public services in Wales to ‘ensure their decision making is informed by sustainable development principles’.  The proposals would also require organisations to report annually on how they have complied with that duty.
FSA: A Canadian company has applied to the Food Standards Agency for approval to market a baker’s yeast rich in vitamin D2 as a novel food ingredient.  Views are wanted on this application. Any comments on this application should be sent to the ACNFP Secretariat by Thursday 31 May 2012. .
NE: Proposals for an improved coastal access route between South Bents in Sunderland and Seaton Carew in Hartlepool have been published for consultation (closes on 3 August 2012), marking the first stages of the England Coast Path in the north east of England set in motion by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009..

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE: Research from the Teenage Cancer Trust reveals that a quarter of young people visited their GP 4 times or more with common cancer symptoms, such as pain, a lump or extreme tiredness, before they were referred to a specialist. Making a diagnosis of cancer in children & teenagers is difficult, so NICE advises that GPs listen carefully to parents as they are usually the best observers of their children.
NICE's clinical guideline on referral for suspected cancer recommends that if a child or young person presents several times, for example 3 or more times, with the same problem, but with no clear diagnosis, then urgent referral should be made.

Annual Reports

DH: Statistics on  PIP breast implants were released recently by the Department of Health:
* The first collection monitors the extent to which patients who had PIP implants implanted privately have presented to the NHS
* The second collection tracks the care of those women who have previously had PIP implants implanted by the NHS.  This collection covers the 7 NHS providers which had used PIP implants on NHS patients in the past.
ScotGov: The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) launched its latest Report Card at the recent World Fisheries Congress in Edinburgh, looking at the impact of climate change on the marine environment.
The MCCIP 2012 report card ‘focuses on how climate change is affecting the fish and shellfish we find in our seas, providing both opportunities and threats, and what the social and economic consequences could be’.
ScotGov: Almost every parent in Scotland is involved, engaged & highly satisfied in their child’s schooling in the early years according to key findings from a report published recently.  The annual Growing up in Scotland (GUS) reports looks at life as a child in Scotland, this year focussing on 3 areas: early experiences at primary school, weight & physical activity and the involvement of grandparents.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has published 2 pieces of research that assessed the level of voluntary display of its food hygiene schemes in the UK.
10 DS: Latest quarterly snapshot on how each department is spending its budget and the results it has achieved.  The QDS are designed to fit on a single page to provide a quarterly snapshot on how each department is spending its budget, the results it has achieved and how it is deploying its workforce.

General Reports and Other Publications

IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies says that ‘Debate in the United States on ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has taken a step forward after a study concluded that international nuclear monitoring had advanced significantly in the past ten years’.
PC&PE: The Government must employ a basket of measures, covering all tenures of housing, if sufficient finance is ever to be available to tackle the country's housing crisis, says the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee in a report examining the financing of new housing supply.  
The Committee calls on Ministers to set out proposals for the future delivery of affordable homes, and to consult on how housing associations should be financed in future. It also urges ministers to look to different models of delivery to help meet the housing shortfall.  It sees interesting potential in self build and points to Almere in the Netherlands as a useful model.
ESRC: Schools, local councils and professionals need better guidance & training to work with migrant families from Eastern Europe & their children, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
ESRC: Understanding linguistic diversity among London's schoolchildren is key for the city’s future as a 'global player', research shows.  A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council mapped the distribution of languages spoken by London state school pupils.  By combining language spoken with ethnicity, researchers have shed new light on patterns of educational inequality.
WAG: The Welsh Government has published new evidence on regional & local market pay that will be submitted to the Treasury and to the Pay Review Bodies. The evidence, by WAG’s Chief Economist, shows that the ‘arguments put forward by the UK Government are flawed and are far from the full picture’.
IPPRBradford is the most economically polarised place in England, with the biggest gap between its most & least deprived areas, according to a new report published by the think tank IPPR.   The report says that without more local power over housing spending, including housing benefit, and action both to secure new investment and strike new ‘something for something’ deals with landlords, the gap between the housing ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will persist.
Civitas: Britain's financial regulators have been co-opted into protecting major banks from competition, according to a new Civitas report.  The result is that big banks can get away with reducing lending to businesses and offering poor service to customers, without the risk of losing accounts to competitors.
Street Cred, by Stephen L. Clarke, examines how financial regulations, introduced to protect consumers, have, ironically, been wielded to defend the market position of big commercial banks against new entrants, while examples of successful local banks in parts of Europe show how a rejuvenated local banking sector could more effectively serve British businesses and consumers.
LGA: According to the analysis from the Local Government Association a total of £2bn has been allocated by government to help rebuild between 100 & 300 of the country's crumbling schools under the Government's Priority Schools Building Programme, but not a penny of this has been spent because of missed deadlines and long delays.
UKOC: On 22 March 2012, UK online centres together with the LSE's Media Policy Project organised the first Social Digital Research symposium, bringing a number of different people with a stake in digital inclusion together around a table to discuss how we can better share our knowledge &  findings. The symposium threw up a number of interesting questions & discussion topics, which you can now read in the full report.
NAO: The National Audit Office has published a report on the government fund to support private sector jobs and growth in places that rely on the public sector.  The report concludes that applying tighter controls over the value for money offered by individual bids and then allocating funding across more bidding rounds could have created thousands more jobs from the same resources.

Legislation / Legal

DfE: The Government has set out new measures to protect children from the ‘creeping tide of commercialisation & sexualisation in society’. Ministers welcomed progress to date in implementing the recommendations of the independent Let Children Be Children report by Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union – but said that industry still have plenty of work to do.
DfE: Across local authorities there has been a concern that the children’s services assessment is essentially a bureaucratic exercise that adds little understanding of children’s services in an area over & above the individual inspections that underlie it.  It is seen to make little if any contribution to driving service improvement.  Ending the annual assessment will create cost savings to Ofsted of approximately £1.6m per year.
Following a targeted consultation exercise, the Government has now laid the draft Legislative Reform (Annual Review of Local Authorities) Order before Parliament.  Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Government expects to effect the repeal of the legislation requiring annual children’s services assessments to be conducted – section 138 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 – before summer recess starts on 17 July 2012.
CO: The Government recently published the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill, which, if passed, will ‘tackle electoral fraud by speeding up the introduction of individual electoral registration and modernise the system of voter registration’. The Bill includes the Government’s plans for individual electoral registration, which would end the practice of the head of a household being responsible for registering everyone in a property.
Currently, the head of a household registers everyone who lives at the same address.  Under the system of individual registration, everyone would register separately, each providing their own unique identifiers, like National Insurance number and date of birth, so their information can be verified.  The new registration system is due to be in place by the end of 2015.
ScotGov: Scottish Government proposals to safeguard frontline police and fire & rescue services in Scotland are a step closer, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said. It follows the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill successfully passing Stage 1 of the parliamentary process.  The new services aim to go live on April 1, 2013..
DCMS: A simpler & stronger age-rating system for video games will soon be law after proposals were laid in Parliament recently.  The new system will stop inappropriate video games being sold direct to young children while providing industry with a simpler system for having games age rated.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: A high-level group of experts have warned that Europeans will only be able to benefit from the affordable, less intrusive & more personalised healthcare which ICT can bring if agreement is reached on how to use health data.
EU News: The police could get better & faster support from their counterparts in other EU countries, for example when asking them to conduct house searches or interview witnesses, under a proposed European Investigation Order endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on last week.  The new rules would set deadlines for gathering the evidence requested and limit the grounds for refusing such requests.
PC&PE: The House of Lords EU Committee reported recently following an in-depth examination of the European Commission's proposals for the EU's 7-year budget – the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).   

The Committee concludes that the EU must show overall budgetary restraint, with reductions proposed in areas such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), but suggests that in some areas of European expenditure there may be scope for higher budgets, for example to encourage growth & innovation.
The Committee slammed plans by the European Commission to use a Europe wide Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) to fund the 2014-2020 EU budget.  The Committee says the Commission has 'failed to make a case for the tax' and suggests if it were introduced the UK could account for 71% of the revenue it would raise.  
PC&PE: The House of Lords EU Committee has recently called on the EU to improve its defence capabilities and ensure it can deploy a greater proportion of its armed forces when needed.   In their report the Committee stress that given the America’s stated declaration that its defence priority is now the Asia-Pacific region and not Europe it is urgent that the EU gets its own house in order on defence capabilities.  
EU News: EU consumers want to be sure that the products – whether produced in the EU or imported from third-countries - are safe. The good news is that thanks to the increasing effectiveness of the EU's rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products ("RAPEX") dangerous products are detected earlier & more effectively and are more promptly removed from the EU market.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed to update EU VAT rules to ‘ensure the uniform tax treatment of all types of vouchers across all Member States’.  Vouchers represent a market of more than €52bn per year in the European Union.  However, differences in national VAT rules on vouchers means that companies face problems of double taxation and difficulties in expanding their business across borders.  The new rules seek to redress this situation.
EU News: The European Commission is calling on citizens all over the European Union to help set the policy agenda for the next years and shape the future of Europe in the biggest ever EU public consultation on citizens' rights (closes on 9 September 2012 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU: News: The European Commission is inviting stakeholders to submit their views (by 27 July 2012) on ‘the future of the guidelines on the application of the EU antitrust rules to maritime transport services’.  These guidelines will expire in September 2013 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CO: The Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd has launched 2 new projects to ‘make it easier for people to give time & money to causes they care about’:
* One project will match every £ given to local charities up to a total of £500k match funding.  This will be run through, a website specifically designed to support small, local charities & community groups.
* The second initiative, the Challenge Prizes, is a call-out for new ideas to inspire more people to get involved in tackling 2 specific social challenges.  One prize will be given to the best idea for involving lots of people in giving better support to older people in their area. The second prize will go to the best idea for mobilising people to reduce waste in their communities.
ScotGov: Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital investment, has announced the new People and Communities Fund to promote & support community-led regeneration initiatives across Scotland, is ‘open for applications.
BIG: 11 projects across Scotland are sharing in over £4m from BIG’s Investing in Communities fund aimed at supporting those most in need.  Parents with learning disabilities and people affected by homelessness are to benefit from new training, education & employment opportunities, while isolated elderly people will get out and about & remain independent for longer, thanks to the latest grants from the Big Lottery Fund.
COCharity donations will be made possible at 12,000 ATMs belonging to Royal Bank of Scotland and cash machine operator Bank Machine this summer, which is already being heralded as the ‘summer of social action’.
BIG: Life-saving health & education work among some of the most disadvantaged communities in Bangladesh and Myanmar has yesterday received grants from Big Lottery Fund.  

3 charities are sharing over £1.2m in funding from BIG’s International Communities programme, which supports projects tackling the causes of poverty & deprivation and the effects they have on the lives of the most disadvantaged people.

Business and Other Briefings

This Brief sets out changes to the VAT rules for certain types of face value vouchers as announced today by David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, in a Written Ministerial Statement. These changes will be included within the current Finance Bill and will have retrospective effect to 10 May 2012.

Industry News

STFC: After more than 10 years of work by more than 200 engineers, the Mid InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) (a camera so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiter’s moons) has been declared ready for delivery by the European Space Agency and NASA.
The MIRI Optical System is an instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that will eventually take up a position 4 times further away from the Earth than the Moon.  It will now be shipped to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre where it will be integrated with the other 3 instruments and the telescope.
Facilities at Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory had to be specially designed to simulate the environment the instrument will experience in space and account for it’s extremely low operating temperatures.  
GPS: On 1 April 2012,  the Government Procurement Service successfully completed what is understood to be the largest electricity & gas supply meter transfer in British history

The project, led by the GPS energy team, involved changing the supplier of electricity & gas for 21,831 public sector sites, primarily across Ministry of Defence, Department for Work & Pensions and Health estates.
By transferring these sites to our frameworks, their electricity & gas requirements were aggregated to deliver lower cost energy though trading and tendered single source frameworks for Gas, Non-Half Hourly Electricity and Half Hourly Electricity. 
The successful transfer means GPS will deliver an additional £25m of savings in the financial year 12/13 through state of the art trading and the application of lower supply chain costs to sites.  A similar level of additional savings is anticipated for subsequent years.
WOWith Swansea and Cardiff in the running to bid for licences to allow them to launch their own local TV stations, Wales Office Minister David Jones has encouraged Welsh production companies to bid.  Potential operators now have until 13 August 2012 to apply to Ofcom for a licence.
BIS: A new £100m investment fund to support research partnerships between universities, businesses, charities and philanthropic donors opened for bids on Monday. The Research Partnership Investment Fund is open to UK universities for investment in long-term capital projects that leverage in significant private funding. 
Universities will be able to bid for between £10m & £35m per project and must be able to demonstrate that they can attract at least double the amount in private investment.  Applications will be judged on value for money and how much they build on existing strong research capability.

Forthcoming Event

DCMS: Running from 16-22 July 2012 and aimed at communities hosting Pre-Games Training Camps, Host a Nation Week encourages these communities, business groups & sports clubs to celebrate the teams using their facilities and forge links with their countries of origin from across the world. 
To help generate ideas for the week and support groups who are planning to hold events, the Government has launched a toolkit for host communities wishing to take part.
UKOC: On 30 & 31 May 2012, over 1,000 delegates will converge in Old Billingsgate to explore the latest in supporting an inclusive & digital nation at the 7th national Digital Conference (ND2012).
The event will celebrate the campaign for digital inclusion, and offer an opportunity to discover the latest tools, resources, and solutions for supporting access; from helping the hardest to reach and those with disabilities, to exploring opportunities for businesses:
* Day 1 will follow the theme of 'Digital Growth & Innovation'
* Day 2 will explore the latest social action & vision for supporting the last 8.4m people online
Defra: Defra is seeking to explore opportunities for delivering Common Agricultural Policy systems beyond 2013

A Prior Information Notice has been issued, inviting potential suppliers to a Market Sounding event on 21 May 2012 in Reading in order to ‘discuss emerging views on procurement options for delivery models’. Evidence from this Market Sounding will be used to consider both individual and joint procurement options for different delivery models.

Editorial Content Statement

Wired-Gov  would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the Wired-Gov Plus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL) and may take some time to download, even with a broadband link.  Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), Wired-Gov cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
Wired-Gov is not responsible for the content of external websites.
Business IT Support by: Trusted IT