In the News
MoD: Philip Hammond for Chancellor in the next ministerial re-shuffle? - The MOD's budget deficit has been ‘wiped out for the first time in a generation’, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced last week claiming that the £38bn black hole in the Defence Budget that the Government inherited in 2010 has now been eliminated. It means that, for the first time, the MOD's core equipment programme is fully funded & affordable.
DH: Poor health is a common factor among re-offenders - The Offender Health Collaborative (a consortium led by Nacro) has been selected to support the cross government Health & Criminal Justice Transition Programme in managing the National Liaison and Diversion Development Network.
The Government has committed to the implementation of liaison & diversion services at all police custody suites and criminal courts, subject to a positive business case approval by 2014 and the Collaborative will work with local schemes to develop the good practice guidance, quality standards, and workforce requirements as well as reviewing & testing different models of commissioning & provision of liaison and diversion services. This will be achieved via a network of liaison & diversion schemes across England.
DUK: Framework still not become a reality after 11 years! - Diabetes healthcare in England has drifted into a ‘state of crisis’ where 'less than half of people with the condition are getting the basic minimum care they need', a new report has warned.
According to the State of the Nation 2012 report, published by Diabetes UK, there are some areas where just 6% of people with diabetes are getting the regular checks & services recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The report also highlights how a National Service Framework for diabetes – which sets out the healthcare people with the condition should be getting – has been in place for 11 years, but has yet to become a reality.
Diabetes UK, said, "We already know that diabetes in costing the NHS a colossal amount of money, but this report shows how in exchange for this investment we are getting second-rate healthcare that is putting people with diabetes at increased risk of tragic complications and early death”.
DfE: Don’t some LA’s care what impact they are having on the children - Hundreds of children are forced to wait an average of 20 months from entering care to moving in with their adoptive parents – 6 months slower than the timetable set out in national guidance, according to official figures published recently.
The first ever local authority adoption scorecards show 80 local authority areas have met the interim thresholds (of 21 months from entering care to adoption and matching a child to a family within 7 months of a court order being made). But the other 72 did not meet one or both of these key measures – which will be lowered gradually to 14 months and 4 months respectively within 4 years.
WWF: Increasing world-wide demand for food & obesity issues requires a joined-up strategy on food - Responding to the publication recently by the Environmental Audit Committee of their report on Sustainable Food, WWF-UK said that the Government must not ignore the urgent need to develop a joined-up strategy on food.
WWF-UK said it would have liked to see the report go further and calls for the Government to define a sustainable diet, getting the Department of Health to work with Defra to accomplish this. The group said that the Government should also tackle other complex issues around production, consumption and subsidies that some stakeholders would like brushed under the carpet.
STFC: Simplify the jargon so policy makers can make decisions based on imartial viewpoints - The Science and Technology Facilities Council continues to sponsor 3-month fellowships with the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology, an organisation that provides government with in-house impartial advice on a range of science and technology policy issues.
STFC funded PhD students can apply to join the scheme in which they are asked, amongst other activities in Parliament, to research & write material for a ‘POST note’. This is a document covering a specific technical topic that ‘breaks down jargon and presents the different viewpoints on the issue impartially for MPs, Peers & other policy makers’.
The scheme gives students the chance to learn about how policy is developed & meet with policymakers and helps develop skills in communicating with non-academic audiences.
EU News: Apparently EU politicians still cannot face the reality of EU crisis - The European Commission should ‘have more control over fiscal policy in EU Member States, but not the free rein it asked for’, says the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in texts, voted on last Monday, stating a position on the economic governance ‘two pack’. This increased power must be democratically controlled and serve to spur economic growth, MEPs say.
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View the full agenda and register for this event
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
FDA: In response to the recent lead story in the Telegraph - headed 'Worst civil servants to be sacked' - which states that "staff are allowed to get away with poor performance", FDA Deputy General Secretary Dave Penman said:
"We have yet to see details of the proposed white paper on civil service reform. The civil service already has rigorous performance management processes, including for the senior civil service a forced ranking approach to appraisal and a revision of these procedures, which was introduced only last month.
"As Francis Maude has said, it is simply a myth that civil servants can't be sacked or that it more difficult to sack individuals who underperform in the civil service than it is anywhere else…………
FSA: Sainsbury's has recalled one batch of its own-brand Basic Tea Cakes. The batch may contain small pieces of plastic caused by a manufacturing fault. If you’ve bought the product don’t eat it. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
TfL: During Games time Transport for London (TfL) and Network Rail will be providing free walking maps at 11 mainline stations and a number of major venue & east London stations. The easy-to-read maps show walking routes from mainline railway stations and their nearest London Underground stations.
In addition, TfL is supporting Recyclebank's re:route app, launched earlier this month, which encourages people to walk & cycle more in London by rewarding green behaviour with points that can be redeemed against a wide range of offers & discounts from Recyclebank partners (including Marks & Spencer, Planet Organic and Champneys). Alongside the rewards, re:route also alerts people to the number of calories that they have burnt and the amount of CO2 they have saved for each journey.
TfL: Londoners & visitors to the city can now get their hands on a ‘collectable limited edition’ Diamond Jubilee Oyster card. The cards became available last week from London Underground stations in Zone 1 and at Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 & T4, and TfL Travel Information Centres. TfL has produced 250,000 of the limited edition Oyster cards, featuring a portrait of The Queen, marking 60 years of Her reign.
TfL: The construction of London's newest transport link reached another milestone last week as all 34 cabins of the Emirates Air Line took off for their inaugural load testing flight. This extensive testing programme is part of a series of rigorous safety trials and follows last month's completion of the Emirates Air Line's 3 towers with cabling extended across the river.
The cabins will travel across 1.1km of cable, gliding 90 metres above the Thames with weights representing the maximum number of passengers before the Emirates Air Line opens for passenger service in summer 2012.
The new river crossing has the capacity to carry up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction - the equivalent of 30 buses per hour, as well as creating a direct link between the O2 & ExCeL and an additional interchange between the Jubilee line & Docklands Light Railway.
TUC: Shareholders may have been giving the thumbs down to boardroom pay & bonuses in greater numbers recently, but the government needs to do more than simply make investors' voting decisions binding if directors' pay is to be set at more realistic levels in future, the TUC has said.
In its recent submission to the government's consultation on shareholder voting rights, the TUC says that allowing workers to sit on companies' pay committees would introduce a touch of the real world to the process of setting top pay.
IPCC: The Independent Police Complaints Commission was advised last week that former Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) commander Ali Dizaei has been dismissed without notice. Deborah Glass, IPCC Deputy Chair said: “Ali Dizaei’s dismissal from the Metropolitan Police Service was the right and inevitable outcome following his conviction, a second time, for serious criminal offences. There is no place in the police for corrupt officers and they have no business wielding the powers of a police officer in our communities’.
MoD: Extra funding of £400,000 will be provided for the Big White Wall online mental wellbeing service which provides support for UK Service personnel, veterans & their families, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
TfL: Vital repair work to the Hammersmith Flyover will be completed on 30 May 2012, allowing the structure to be fully reopened to all traffic well ahead of the London 2012 Games. TfL will return to the structure during 2013 to strengthen the remaining spans.
HA: As the Olympic Torch relay gets underway, the Highways Agency is calling on road users to help tackle roadside litter and ensure that England’s motorways & major roads provide safe and pleasant journeys during the summer of the Olympic & Paralympic Games.
DfT: Passengers in South Yorkshire will be the first in the country to benefit from flexible new Tram Trains that will make their journeys easier & more convenient. Transport Minister Norman Baker has given the green light to a £58m pilot scheme to run revolutionary Tram Trains on both rail & tram networks, making them ideal for the 8 mile non-stop journeys of no more than 25 minutes between, suburb & city centres from Sheffield to Rotherham.
Press release & links
UKOC: Last Saturday, 19 May 2012, saw the start of the Olympic torch's journey around the UK, and at UK online centres they are planning lots of fun activities to help you encourage as many people as possible to get online for the first time to enjoy the games.
In the meantime, if you want to see how close the Olympic torch is coming to your centre, check out the fantastic map. And why not have a look at the Olympic Athlete's Hub, an online community bringing together the social media sites of hundreds of participating athletes from all over the world?
MoD: A wounded Royal Navy medic who saved the lives of 4 colleagues after they were seriously injured in Afghanistan by a grenade attack in 2011 received a Military Cross this week from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Despite shrapnel wounds to his leg & face, Medical Assistant (MA) Liam O'Grady ran across open ground while grenades were exploding around him to drag his stricken patrol sergeant to safety.
BIS: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has launched this year’s Cracking Ideas competition and is inviting children across the country to use their creativity to invent a special space-themed gizmo or gadget. 12 regional finalists in different age-groups will be named Britain's youngest innovators, from which 3 national winners will be crowned Cracking Ideas champions for 2013. The competition runs until 30 April 201.
Unite: Health visitors & community nurses are ‘horrified’ by the 58% hike in the fee to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Unite, the union, said last week that this was ‘another tax’ on hard-pressed & dedicated community nurses already hit by a 2-year pay freeze, a steep increase in pension contributions and facing the prospect of regional pay.
Unite’s lead professional officer, Obi Amadi said: “Our members are horrified by this proposed 58 per cent rise from £76 to £120-a-year – a fee they must pay, if they wish to practice their profession. Our members resent having to pick up the bill for the failings of the NMC – which have been highlighted by two independent reviews saying how dysfunctional the organisation is”.
ACE: Arts Council England recently announced the 173 successful applicants to its £30m Catalyst Arts: capacity building and match funding scheme, which aims to make arts organisations more sustainable, resilient & innovative by increasing their fundraising potential and attracting new money to invest in additional artistic work. It acts as challenge funding to support additional arts activity.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
BIS: Business Minister Mark Prisk has announced that the Green Construction Board (GCB) has secured £1m to bolster its operations.
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has allocated a £1.8m fund to areas blighted by so-called 'beds in sheds', to ‘tackle the problem head-on and end this growing practice by ruthless landlords’ and appealed to councils who may have turned a blind eye in the past to use this funding & the range of powers at their disposal, to tackle the issue.
WAG: Local authorities across Wales will boost their capital spend this year by £60m thanks to the Welsh Government’s Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI). £4m has been allocated from WAG to local authorities across Wales as the first tranche of the 3 year LGBI. This new support will allow councils to address the pressures on road maintenance budgets and boost investment in local highway improvement schemes.
WAG: The Welsh Government has set an ambitious target of providing 12,500 homes during this term of Government. The target is made up of 7,500 affordable homes - 1,000 more than the previous government's target - and 5,000 empty homes brought back into use through the Houses into Homes scheme launched earlier this year. The 7,500 affordable homes will be delivered with a combination of subsidy from WAG and other housing providers using their own finance.
DfE: Parents are to get a new legal right to buy-in specialist SEN & disabled care for their children, under plans set out last week by Children’s Minister Sarah Teather. The reform will also force education, health and social care services to plan services together by law – so when their children are assessed, parents will be assured they will get full provision to address their children’s needs.
ACE: The Arts Council has welcomed the National Conservation Education and Skills Strategy, which sets out a vision for conservation education over the next 5 years.
WAG: The Minister responsible for the Welsh language, Leighton Andrews, has announced funding of more than £5m to support Welsh-medium education across Wales. The money will be used to provide Welsh-language and Welsh-medium methodology training for teachers & practioners, follow-up support for those who have completed the Sabbaticals Scheme and for a range of Welsh language activities outside of school, such as Welsh books quizzes, events & residential courses.
CLG: Details of how thousands of new affordable homes will be built using the cash proceeds from the Government's reinvigorated Right to Buy scheme were recently unveiled by Housing Minister Grant Shapps.
The Minister said he was responding to appeals by local authorities for more time to take advantage of the new scheme by allowing them 3 years to reinvest the funds they gain from additional sales into hew housing. He said councils now have a ‘prime opportunity’ to refresh their housing stock and help meet the housing needs of hard-working families currently languishing on the waiting list.
ScotGov: The increasing appetite for ‘grow your own’ was served up a cash boost last week by Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson, when he announced a £600,000 package of support to encourage the development of more community growing and support the growth of Scotland’s grow your own sector.
WAG: “Staff are key to the success of the NHS,” Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths said as she launched ‘Working Differently – Working Together’, the Workforce and Organisational Development Framework for NHS Wales.
This is the first framework published to support ‘Together for Health’ the Government's 5-year vision for the NHS in Wales, and it focuses on 4 main objectives.
CLG: Government plans to allow councils to retain more of the money they raise from business rates could boost the economy by an estimated £10bn, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles claimed last week. The local growth reforms are part of the Local Government Finance Bill that will have its third reading in the House of Commons this week. The Bill was not directly mentioned in the Queen's Speech because it was 'carried over' from the previous legislative session.
The Bill seeks to create a new incentive for local government across England to support growth by directly linking a council's financial revenue to the decisions they take to back local firms and local jobs. Councils will be able to keep 50% of their business rates, providing a strong incentive to go for growth.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government will produce a National Walking Strategy to maximise the number of people using walking as a mode of transport, to get active and to stay active. Physical inactivity contributes to nearly 2,500 deaths, costs the NHS £91m each year in Scotland and is the fourth leading health risk factor behind hypertension (high blood pressure), tobacco and high blood sugar (diabetes).
WAG: A national programme to drive up literacy standards in Welsh schools has recently been published. The National Literacy Programme (NLP) sets out the actions the Welsh Government and its partners need to take to achieve a step change in literacy standards over the next 5 years.
WAG: A new plan to ensure stroke rates in Wales are among the lowest in Europe by 2016 has been published for public consultation (closes on 2 August 2012) by the Welsh Government. Together Against Stroke aims to build on what has already been achieved in recent years, helping to deliver wider ambitions to improve services for those at risk of, or who have, a stroke over the next few years.
BHF: The Government has announced details of a consultation on food labels (closes on 6 August 2012) - the perfect springboard for ministers and the food industry to give the green light to labels that help shoppers make healthier choices. As things stand, there is a confusing multitude of food labels on products across UK shelves.
The British Heart Foundation are urging ministers and the food industry to back traffic light-coloured labels combined with Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) and the words ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’.
FSA: Keeping track of what we eat and choosing healthier foods could be made easier thanks to a consultation (closes on 6 August 2012) launched on front-of-pack (FoP) nutrition labelling by the Food Standards Agency in both Northern Ireland & Scotland.
Defra: New proposals to modernise the process of recording rights of way, developed in consultation with groups such as the Ramblers and Country Land & Business Association, have been unveiled by Environment Minister Richard Benyon. The consultation closes on 6 August 2012.
Plans are expected to cut the time taken to record a right of way by as much as several years, so that routes set to be lost in 2026 can be preserved. All unrecorded footpaths & bridleways created before 1949 cannot be recorded after 1 January 2026.
DfE: New advice to schools will make clear that they will no longer be able to use pupils’ biometric data without parental consent. The advice (launched last week for consultation - closes on 3 August 2012) comes into effect from September 2013.
The advice has been updated to take into account new measures in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which has now gained Royal Assent. Frequently asked questions & optional templates for notification & consent will also be included in the advice.
WAG: A White Paper seeking views on proposals to improve local democracy has gone out to consultation (closes on 3 August 2012). Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Local Government & Communities said that many of the proposals being put forward in the paper are designed to be included within an Assembly Bill – the Local Democracy (Wales) Bill – which the Minister intends to introduce in autumn 2012.
A key element of the Bill is in relation to how the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales operates. The Bill aims to redesign the rules within which the Commission operates and make reforms to the structure & functions of the Commission.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DH: The 2m people with apotentially fatal lung-disease who have not been diagnosed could now be identified & treated if the NHS follows a new action plan for respiratory problems. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is mainly caused by smoking. It kills around 23,000 people per year, making it the UK’s fifth biggest killer disease.
The Department of Health has published A Companion Document to the Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma, which if followed across the NHS could save an estimated 7,800 lives annually. The NHS currently spends £1bn a year treating COPD, but implementing the top 5 actions (out of 45) for COPD patients alone could lead to savings of nearly £500m over 10 years.
It costs nearly 10 times more to treat severe COPD than the mild form of the disease, so improved diagnosis rates will save money.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has published a toolkit & newsletter for stakeholders to support their participation in the Agency’s Play it Safe campaign. This campaign is helping to ensure that food bought, cooked & eaten during the 2012 Olympics is safe.
SC: Last week, the Sentencing Council published a new guideline for judges & magistrates on the sentencing of dangerous dog offences, which will come into effect on 20 August 2012. The Council has also published a response to the consultation which summarises some of the very useful feedback and comments they received.
Press release & links
ACE: More people than ever are participating in the arts, culture & heritage in England, according to the Taking Part survey, which looked at arts & heritage participation between January and December 2011.
EA: The Environment Agency recently published its weekly drought update. The wettest April on record and continuing rainfall in May have significantly increased river & reservoir levels, reducing pressure on the environment and public water supplies in some parts of England.
The organisation said that South West England, the Midlands and parts of Yorkshire are no longer in drought due to the recent rainfall. It is unlikely that water companies will now impose hosepipe bans in these areas over the summer. Parts of East Anglia and South East England remain in drought, with water company restrictions in place on public water use.
NAO: Amyas Morse, Comptroller and Auditor General, has once again been unable to give a full sign off to the Client Funds Account of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has recently called upon the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to provide adequate leadership for heritage science. In its report Science and Heritage: a follow-up the Committee cites research that heritage tourism contributes £7.4bn a year to the UK economy and supports 195,000 full time equivalent jobs.
The Committee argues that sustaining that contribution requires the UK to have the heritage science capacity to maintain the UK’s movable & immovable heritage such as museum, library, archive & gallery collections and historic buildings. Maintaining that capacity requires greater leadership by DCMS.
CIPD: The immediate jobs outlook has turned positive for the first time in more than a year, driven largely by a decrease in redundancy intentions. This is the main finding of the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s quarterly Labour Market Outlook survey.
However, the institute warns that optimism should be tempered by employers’ continued caution about the medium term, which taken together with recent weak economic data, suggests a high risk that many employers may find it necessary to reassess staffing levels before the year is out.
General Reports and Other Publications
ScotGov: An independent review into the management culture of NHS Lothian has been published recently. The report, requested by the Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, highlights an inappropriate management culture at the board, originating from the top level.
WWF: A recent preliminary assessment of 63 legally protected areas in 7 tiger range countries shows that only 22, or 35%, maintain WWF’s minimum standards of protection. This indicates that the areas set up to protect tigers and other threatened species are not necessarily the refuge they are designed to be, says WWF.
PX: The planning system is failing to protect some of England's most threatened wildlife and important habitats, new research by think tank Policy Exchange has found. Mechanisms designed to protect England's natural environment and compensate for any damage to it are haphazardly applied & woefully monitored, argues the new report, Nurturing Nature.
There is also considerable potential to improve how subsidies to improve our natural environment under the Common Agricultural Policy are spent. The combined weakness of the planning system and the subsidy regime risks further damaging some of our most iconic wildlife.
DH: A review into the PiP breast implant scandal has found that, although the regulator acted appropriately and followed scientific and clinical advice, there is room for improvement and serious lessons must be learned.
The report states that the MHRA and the Department of Health must learn lessons so that they can continue to improve their approach to communicating with affected individuals and the general public, particularly around issues that cause such understandable anxiety.
BIS: A new report shows that Britain’s apprentices are getting promoted, improving their confidence and taking on more responsibility in the workplace, Skills Minister John Hayes has announced. The results are taken from the Apprentice Learner Survey of 5,000 apprentices and will provide fresh evidence of the real value of apprenticeships.
A second survey of over 4,000 employers also shows high satisfaction rates among businesses, while a third report (The Employer Investment in Apprenticeships and Workplace Learning) is the first study into the net financial benefits of training to employers.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its 84th Report of Session 2010-12, Adult Apprenticeships report. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA said: "The Apprenticeship Programme has been a success. The Department has done very well in raising the number of adult apprenticeships, which more than quadrupled in the four years to 2010/11. ……. But the Department could do more to maximise the Programme’s impacts”.
“My Committee is concerned about the number of short training programmes classified as apprenticeships. The National Apprenticeships Service expects them to last between one and four years, but around a fifth of apprenticeships lasted for only six months or even less”.
DWP: Thousands of people who have been on sickness benefits for more than 15 years have been found fit to work and will now get support to help them back into a job, new analysis revealed last week. Of the first 47,400 Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants to be reassessed and found fit to work, 27% had been on the benefit for more than 10 years. 8% had been on the benefit for more than 15 years.
Since October 2010 the Government has been reassessing people on IB to see whether they are capable of working or are entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The new analysis also shows that those people who need the most support are getting the help they need. 37% – of people who have been claiming IB for 15 years or more were put into the ESA support group.
RSF: England's motorway network is not safe enough to have the speed limit raised to 80mph, according to Unfit for 80, a new report from the Road Safety Foundation.
IPPR: The Government should switch to a more rational method of measuring student migration flows and only count students who stay on in the UK permanently in net migration figures, according to a new report published by the think tank IPPR. Overall, around 400,000 students come to British colleges and universities each year and make up the major component of the UK’s £15bn-a-year education exports.
IPPR’s survey of the top ten countries for international students has found that 3 of them explicitly qualify students as temporary or ‘non-immigrant’ admissions. These countries are the United States, Australia, and Canada – the UK’s main competitors in the global market for international students.
JRF: A report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (Experiences of forced labour in the UK food industry) finds that some migrants are working under threatening & inhumane conditions for little or no pay, in parts of the UK food industry.
A significant proportion of those interviewed had paid fees to agents to get to the UK and obtain work. Isolated, unaware of their rights and trapped in debt, researchers found cases of migrants being forced to share cramped accommodation (sometimes with strangers), subject to threats & racist bullying, and vulnerable to scams such as 'under-work' – the practice of recruiting too many workers and then giving them just enough work to meet their debt to the gangmaster.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its 82nd Report of Session 2010-12, on Department for Education: accountability and oversight of education and children's services. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA said: "As the Government devolves the delivery of education and children’s services in England, it becomes ever more important for the Department to tell us exactly how accountability to Parliament is going to work so that we can properly follow the taxpayers’ pound.
The Department has described arrangements for providing assurance on regularity and propriety. But although this is the third draft of the accountability arrangements we have seen, we remain very concerned at the weakness of the proposed arrangements to ensure accountability for value for money”.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published its equality assessment of the government’s 2010 Spending Review. The Commission's report considers the extent to which the decision-making by ministers & Treasury officials met legal obligations to consider the impact on equality when completing the Review.
The report commends Ministers & officials for ‘serious’ efforts to meet the requirements of their obligations. It finds that in 6 cases the Treasury acted in accordance with the requirements under the equality duties, but in 3 cases, the Commission says that it was unable to establish whether or not the decisions were in full accord with the requirements of the duty because of a lack of clarity as to a) where the true site of the decisions lay and b) whether or not some decisions were the responsibility of other government departments or the government as a whole.
NAO: The National Audit Office has issued a report examining arrangements at the Department for Work and Pensions for detecting and preventing fraud and improper practices in employment programmes. The report concludes that levels of reported fraud in employment programmes are low.
The introduction of the Work Programme in June 2011 largely addressed the main weaknesses in previous programmes which had led to a risk that fraud by providers was being understated. The report finds in particular that the Department’s past assessment of the risk of fraud at A4e missed vital evidence.
ESRC: The mothers of Britain's 'mixed families' are ensuring their children learn about their heritage & culture, according to a development project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. So, even if the child’s father hails from a minority background, it will still be the mother who is responsible for teaching them about the father’s culture.
'Mixed' relationships, where each partner is from a different racial or ethnic background, are increasingly common in Britain. Findings clearly show that for many couples and their children, their different cultures & heritage were not overly an issue for them, or for the communities in which they lived. For many it was more often an issue for other people than those who are themselves mixing or of mixed race.
ESRC: Funeral directors need to be aware of the needs of non-religious people. A unique investigation into the subject funded by the Economic and Social Research Council provides a snapshot of a defining aspect of life - or indeed death.
CCC: Local authorities have a crucial role in contributing to emissions reductions and helping the UK meet its carbon budgets targets says a report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). However, at the moment there is no requirement for councils to set targets & implement measures to reduce emissions within their area. And the scale of ambition is generally low given limited funding & lack of obligation. The Committee argues that limited action at the local level would put achievement of national carbon budgets at risk.
EH: English Heritage has submitted a detailed response to HMRC on their 'VAT: Addressing borderline anomalies' which announced the introduction of VAT at 20% on alterations works to listed buildings. Alterations are vital in many cases to allow listed buildings to continue in their existing uses or to adapt them to new uses to ensure they are occupied and cared for. If the changes do proceed as set out in the Budget 2012, EH have recommended a number of possible mitigation measures which could reduce the impact of the changes.
IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies thinks that NATO's Chicago Summit on 20-21 May is likely to be dominated by 2 themes:
* Withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan
* The reduction in defence spending by almost all NATO members
EHRC: A new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that disabled people continue to be put at a disadvantage in the workplace. They are not realising their full potential as they are not getting the support they need at work.
The report, ‘A Perfect Partnership’, says that closing the employment gap between disabled workers and non disabled workers can increase the performance of staff across the board. It found that disabled people do not want to be singled out for special treatment. They are looking for company-wide solutions that support all workers – not just those with a disability – to do their jobs effectively.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Legislation to deliver the best package of early learning & childcare in the UK will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament next year as part of the new Children and Young People Bill. The announcement of the new Bill coincides with the recent publication of the ‘Do the Right Thing’ report on ScotGov’s work to support children and their rights.
HO: Foreign nationals refused a visa for a short visit to see family members in the UK will lose the full right to appeal the decision in the courts, saving £10ms and freeing up tribunals to deal with more serious cases (they will have to re-apply). A decision on a fresh application will be received much more quickly than an appeal, typically within 15 days, in comparison with the appeal route which can take up to 8 months
The number of appeals has soared since 2000 (when full appeal rights were re-introduced) to almost 50,000 (almost 40% of all immigration appeals) at an estimated cost of £29m per year. The change is included in the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published on Friday (11 May) and is expected to come into force by 2014.
In the meantime, interim measures will ensure that the full right of appeal will be limited to those applying to visit a close family member (see press release for more information).
ICO: The London Borough of Barnet has been issued with a penalty of £70,000 for ‘losing paper records containing highly sensitive and confidential information, including the names, addresses, dates of birth and details of the sexual activities of 15 vulnerable children or young people’.
The loss occurred when a social worker took the paper records home to work on them out of hours. The social worker’s home was burgled in April last year, and a laptop bag, containing the records and an encrypted computer, was stolen. The ICO’s investigation found that the council failed to take appropriate organisational measures against the accidental loss of personal data held on paper records.
HO: Police are to be given the power to prosecute up to 50% of magistrates' court cases, the Home Secretary announced recently. The bureaucracy cutting move will see about 500,000 cases taken through the courts by officers - reducing the time it takes to serve justice and preventing the duplication of work between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: Clearer rules are needed to protect not only the victims of cross-border defamation, but also journalists accused of it, says a resolution approved last Thursday. Enhancing legal clarity would cut the cost of court cases, thus reducing the risk of a ‘chilling effect’ on press freedom and improving access to justice, says the text.
The proposed measures should also reduce the risk of ‘forum shopping’ in which a claimant chooses the jurisdiction thought likeliest to produce a favourable result. Rules on defamation & breach of privacy should be included in the existing EU regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations, known as ‘Rome II’, adds the text.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed to boost innovation to deal with water related challenges by creating a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water. A Strategic Implementation Plan will be developed with key stakeholders to define the priority areas for action. The EIP on Water will seek to align the activities and outcomes of existing European, national and regional activities.
HPA: The foundations for a public health map for Europe, with a focus on environmental factors, have been laid, as part of an innovative HPA led project. The UNIPHE (Use of sub-National Indicators to Improve Public Health in Europe) project kicked off 3 years ago and involved public health professionals compiling key information from European countries so they could draw worthwhile public health comparisons on a regional basis.
So far scientists have compared, among other things, deaths & injuries caused by road traffic incidents and health effects of environmental factors such as noise & air quality. The investigation team has now finished its 3-year long project and is finalising a report which will be published later this year.
EA: Swimmers, surfers & holidaymakers will benefit from plans to tackle pollution and further improve water quality at over 500 bathing water sites around England & Wales, the Environment Agency announced last week. As the official bathing season got underway last week, EA water quality sampling teams will be out taking weekly samples at every site until September – a total of 30,000 samples.
England & Wales will have more stringent water quality targets to achieve under the revised Bathing Water Directive in 2015 and the EA is concentrating on tackling pollution before the targets come into force.
EU News: Over 400m Europeans currently enjoy passport-free travel across the Schengen area. With Europeans making more than 1.25bn journeys every year, vigilance is required to defend citizens' right to free movement.
Last week, the Commission adopted its first 'health check', a biannual overview on the functioning of the Schengen area, which will contribute to enhancing political guidance & cooperation amongst Schengen participating countries. The report is accompanied by guidelines which seek to ensure a coherent interpretation & implementation of the selected issues, in a spirit of solidarity.
EU News: Health claims on food labelling and in advertising, for example on the role of calcium & bone health or vitamin C & the immune system, have become vital marketing tools to attract consumers' attention. Therefore EU consumers expect accurate information on products they buy, in particular on the health claims the products may put forward.
Last week, a list of 222 health claims was approved by the Commission. This list is based on sound scientific advice, will be used throughout the EU and will also help to remove misleading claims from the market before the end of 2012.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Thousands of young people can avoid becoming involved in criminal activity and anti-social behaviour through a Big Lottery Fund investment that will extend massively the reach of 25 projects that have already been shown to work.
The tried & tested interventions - several of which are being introduced to the UK for the first time – are some of the most well evidenced crime prevention projects presently operating in the UK or internationally. Now, following a BIG investment of £25m, they will be scaled up & rolled out across the UK to improve the prospects of around a quarter of a million 8-14 year olds and reduce first-time offending.
SE: Communities across the country have started bidding for a share of £2m to protect & improve their local sports playing fields. The National Lottery investment is on offer in the latest round of Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields fund to enhance local playing fields or create new sports pitches.
BIG: Bardon Mill and Henshaw Village Hall & Community Projects Group has received the funding recently to build the partially underground hall on the site of the former Bardon Mill Colliery which closed in 1973. The Going Underground project is one of 101 across the country receiving a total of £23m in grants from BIG’s Reaching Communities programme, which funds projects that help those most in need & builds stronger communities.
Press release & links
BHF: The British Heart Foundation’s shops are joining forces with over 5,500 other charity shops in the UK - as part of the Charity Retail Association ‘Choose Charity Shops’ campaign - to generate more over-the-counter donations.
DCMS: More than 10m people have taken part in thousands of projects in sport, the arts and volunteering. Recently UK Inspire Day celebrated the 2,700 exceptional projects that have been inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with events taking place across the UK to encourage people to do something special in their local communities.
CO: For every £1 spent on National Citizen Service (NCS) up to £2 is being returned to the communities & young people who took part, according to new independent analysis published by a consortium led by NatCen Social Research.
The success of NCS means the Government is now expanding the programme from 30,000 places in 2012 up to 90,000 by 2014. This will mean that the Government will invest around £200m into young people’s futures, but could reap £400m in benefits to communities.
Business and Other Briefings
This Brief is aimed predominantly at professional tax advisors and lawyers although it may be of interest to others. While the judgment in Banca Antoniana concerned VAT, the judgment, and this Brief applies to all of the taxes previously administered by HM Customs & Excise.
This Brief sets out HMRC’s approach to Depositary Receipts following First Tier Tribunal decision in HSBC Holdings & Bank of New York Mellon v HMRC
This brief is for landfill site operators and their advisers and provides clarification on the Landfill Tax treatment of material used on a landfill site and the classification of waste.
GPS: The value delivered by Government Procurement Service frameworks is wide ranging. More new case studies can be viewed in the press release, such, such as:
* NHS Trust clears medical records library in 7 weeks
* RAF Northolt saves 25% in accommodation upgrade
* National Audit Office saves 30% on office refit
OS: The national mapping agency of Great Britain is extending its range of all-weather, plastic coated maps following high demand from consumers & trade. The active map range produced by Ordnance Survey, which can be written on with washable ink, has already proven to be very popular with walkers, off-road cyclists, horse riders and those who enjoy outdoor activities.
Following the success of OS Explorer Map – Active and with such a strong consumer appetite for 1:50 0000 scale all weather maps, Ordnance Survey is extending the range to include all 204 titles in the OS Landranger Map series.
BIS: The Government has received 269 bids from employers looking to take part in a new pilot to design & develop their own vocational training programmes, Skills Minister John Hayes has announced.
The Employer Ownership pilot invited the first round of bids earlier in the year for a share of the £250m fund which will route public investment directly to employers – enabling them to invest in the training & skills development they need to grow their business.
Testing the impact of greater employer ownership of the vocational training agenda is the key objective of the pilot. The vision of greater employer ownership has been championed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) – a non-departmental public body that provides strategic leadership on skills and employment issues. The winners of the bids will be announced later in the year.
DCMS: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced a package of measures to strengthen the UK film industry as part of the Government’s response to Lord Chris Smith’s recent review of British Film Policy.
The majority of the review’s recommendations are directed at the BFI, which has recently published its Future Plan consultation (closes on 10 June 2012) that sets out its proposals to implement the independent panel’s findings.
WAG: First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones has launched a new centre aimed at creating the skills needed to build the financial and professional workforce in Wales.
The University of Glamorgan’s new Centre for Financial & Professional Services will offer opportunities for up-skilling the growing sector’s workforce, further strengthening Wales an attractive option for inward investment.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan has yesterday welcomed the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) £5.5bn commitment to funding an Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) pipeline, which is set to safeguard & create hundreds of jobs in Wales.
The MoD has confirmed in its Planning Round 2012 that it will commit funding to the supply of armoured vehicles to the British Army, which includes the Scout SV project led by defence firm General Dynamics, based in Oakdale and Newbridge in Caerphilly.
DECC: The Government has published a list of companies that have signalled their intention to apply to the new UK CCS competition. The list covers companies that have indicated that they will lead a bid and not all companies that may be involved in that bid.
It is not a list of applicants – the closing date for bids remains 3 July 2012 and DECC don’t expect all parties who have expressed an interest to apply. The CCS Commercialisation Programme will, subject to State Aid clearance, support commercial scale CCS with the £1bn in capital funding that we have made available. Press release & links
GPS: The Government Procurement Service is pleased to be part of a joint project to drive low carbon sourcing in more than £1bn of spending. Working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change and leading UK companies, they will be delivering the commitments made in 3 Procurement Compacts in catering, transport and energy..
ScotGov: Alex Salmond recently announced a £10m funding package to support plans for a deep-water quay facility in Shetland to secure decommissioning work on major offshore structures from the Northern North Sea. to secure decommissioning work on major offshore structures from the Northern North Sea.
Lerwick Port Authority signed an exclusivity agreement with AF Decom Offshore UK in 2010 to develop the project, which aims to establish a centre of excellence at Dales Voe, incorporating a 24-metre deep quay & oil rig decommissioning yard.
A steady stream of offshore installations are approaching the end of their design life and demand for onshore demolition facilities is growing. The total market value of decommissioning over the next 30 to 40 years is estimated to be just over £30bn.
BIS: A new Government led initiative to boost enterprise will see up to 4,000 entrepreneurial university students & graduates in England connecting with SMEs. The Startup Career Milkrounds is part of the Government’s enterprise education package and will see the National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) and Enternships.com working with university enterprise societies.
They will create a national brand for an annual Milkround fortnight that will give students & graduates the chance to engage with small firms through Milkround-style fairs, securing summer placements, raising entrepreneurial skills levels and creating graduate jobs.
NACUE has selected 20 enterprise societies to organise student-led Startup Career Milkrounds for their regions. Each society will receive £500 from NACUE to design & host the event (between 22 May & 2 June), which will be match-funded by the society’s respective university. Students will have the opportunity to hear from & connect with the vibrant startup communities in their regions, through a series of talks, speed-networking sessions, and meetings with local SMEs.
Press release & links
ACE: Creative Economies, a national seminar ‘exploring the role the arts can play in economic development and the regeneration of communities’ will be taking place in London on Wednesday 20 June 2012.
The seminar is a partnership event between Arts Council England and Arts Development UK. The event will be hosted by the London Borough of Camden at The Camden Centre.
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