In the News
EHRC: Did we need more research to reach this conclusion? - The appointment of women to FTSE 350-listed non-executive director roles is being held back by selection processes which ultimately favour candidates with similar characteristics to existing male-dominated board members, according to a new report released by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The report, produced by Cranfield School of Management, is the first in-depth study into ‘the appointment process to corporate boards and the role of executive search firms (ESFs). It follows the recent Davies Review which called upon ESFs to take on a more active role in increasing gender diversity on FTSE boards’.
The research shows how selection of candidates based on ‘fit’ and previous board experience, rather than competencies, is self-perpetuating as it works against women who have had fewer opportunities to gain previous board level experience.
10 DS: Even Rolls Royce started out as a small partnership - An £82.5m StartUp Loan scheme has been launched that will give our next generation of entrepreneurs the finance & support to potentially start over 30,000 new businesses, in a move to boost enterprise & economic growth.
Any young people aged 18–24 accessing the StartUp Loans can expect to receive expert & personal support to help develop a business plan & access training. Where the business plan is robust & approved, they will be able to access financial support in the form of a loan typically in the order of £2,500 with a repayment period of up to 5 years.
The launch came in the week that Lord Young’s Report on Enterprise was published. This showed that if we had the same rates of entrepreneurship as the US than we would have 900,000 more businesses in the UK. Lord Young sets out the strength, diversity & growth of small businesses in recent years, a clear contrast to the Bolton Report of 1971 which predicted small businesses were in long-term decline.
CBI: Better idea than just giving ‘Quantitive Easing money’ to the Banks - As the IMF urges the UK to boost growth through a greater emphasis on infrastructure, the CBI is publishing a new report; An offer they shouldn’t refuse: attracting investment to UK infrastructure, in which the CBI has recognised that securing up to £250bn of investment to repair the UK’s creaking infrastructure will be tough, and has identified 4 transformational changes which could make a real difference:
* Targeting specific projects to enhance their credit rating and make them more attractive to investors
* Pooling pension funds beyond the Pension Infrastructure Platform (PIP) and building up in-house skills
* Commercialising the public sector’s approach to infrastructure and creating a single, attractive shop window for would-be investors
* Ensuring Solvency II doesn’t act as a barrier to private investment
WAG: Credit where credit is due - A report published recently shows high levels of satisfaction among adult hospital patients in Wales, with more than 95% saying they feel respected by nursing staff.
The third annual All Wales Fundamentals of Care Audit Summary Report brings together results from hospitals in Wales, all of which are now using the All Wales Fundamentals of Care Audit Tool.
HO: Just as long as they don’t charge more - The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is strengthening checks so that it is harder for people with a criminal record to hide convictions by changing their identity to hide their past.
Since last week, applicants will be required to produce documents that involve undergoing tighter checks with the document issuer, such as a passport or driver's licence. A transitional period for introducing these changes, running parallel with the existing guidance to Registered Bodies will end on 31 August 2012, when the existing guidance will cease.
Defra: Cue to give generously to boost Kew’s services - The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has launched a video to promote its Breathing Planet Campaign. Kew provides vital botanical & fungal expertise that’s used all over the world, and the Campaign aims to raise £100m over 5 years to 'strengthen Kew and help build a more resilient planet'.
GPS: LOCOG have already fired starter’s gun on disposal of Olympic assets - The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) wish to invite public sector buyers to participate in the ITT for the sale of GE Medical Equipment used during the Olympic & Paralympic Games. If you are interested in taking part please email the LOCOG Asset Disposal Team before 9am on Monday 11 June.
FSCS: Beware false acronym - A claims management company is using the acronym 'fscs' in online search advertising promoting its services. It is seeking payment protection insurance claims (PPI) from consumers.
FSCS (the Financial Services Compensation Scheme) is not connected to the company, which charges for its services. FSCS is free to consumers. It was set up by government, is independent and funded by the financial services industry.
ICO: Free Advisory Visits – Data Protection Advice. In a Day - ICO advisory visits are aimed at small to medium sized organisations such as smaller public authorities, charities and third sector organisations.
The visit involves a one day, informal visit from the ICO to look at how your organisation works, what kind of personal information you hold and what you do with it. We will then give you practical advice about how you can make improvements to comply with the Data Protection Act.
There are three main areas that we will look at; security, records management and requests for personal information – however the review will be tailored to your organisation and will concentrate on the most relevant issues. The visit will also be flexible enough to provide an opportunity for you to ask us questions about data protection.
There is no expense to your organisation and you get a short report at the end which summarises what you should do next.
Simply click here to find out more, or email email@example.com to register your interest.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
CEOP: International Missing Children’s Day (25 May 2012) commemorated the missing children who have found their way home, remembers those who have been victims of crime and the continued efforts to find those who are still missing.
Key activities taking place on the day included:
* The launch of a new help line (116 000) to support missing children and their families
* The launch of a new website to provide the latest appeals on missing children, information for children who are missing or who are thinking of running away; and information on what their families & carers can do if a child in their care goes missing
STFC: The members of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) organisation recently agreed on a dual site solution for the Square Kilometre Array telescope, a crucial step towards building the world’s largest & most sensitive radio telescope. The ASKAP & MeerKAT precursor dishes will be incorporated into Phase I of the SKA, which will deliver more science and will maximise on investments already made by both Australia & South Africa.
TUC: More than 20,000 jobs on the UK's railways could be lost as a result of the government's reforms to the rail industry, unions claimed last week as they launched their Action for Rail campaign. As part of its plans for the future of the rail industry, the government is asking train operating companies (TOCs) and Network Rail to outline how they will make cost reductions in line with the recommendations of the Rail Value for Money review led by Sir Roy McNulty.
More than a quarter of these savings - £260m a year - will come through staffing cuts and. according to the review, this could lead to around 20,800 job losses, including rail guards, staff in ticket offices and on station platforms, catering staff and workers in maintenance & signalling.
ACE: Arts Council England recently announced funding for 2 major new pieces of work with children & young people:
* the delivery of a new National Youth Dance Company
* 4 new In Harmony projects based on the Venezuelan El Sistema model.
HMT: The Government has launched a new tax calculator enabling people to work out how much tax they pay and how the Government spends it. The tax calculator can be downloaded as a free mobile phone app and is also available on the HM Revenue and Customs website.
BP: The complete collection of Queen Victoria’s Journals is now available online. Launched on the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birthday by HM The Queen at Buckingham Palace, the new website is part of a digitisation programme to make historic documents from the Royal Archives widely available for the first time.
ACE: Arts Council England has opened applications to its Designation development fund, which will support non-national museums. Between 2012 & 2015 a total of £2.1m will be awarded to collections-based projects through the fund.
Designation identifies collections of national and international importance held in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance. There are currently 140 Designated collections across England.
NE: Flowering fields in Kent last week welcomed home Bombus subterraneus – otherwise known as the short-haired bumblebee - nearly a quarter of a century after the bee was last seen in Britain. After 3 years of preparing for this reintroduction, backed by Natural England, the RSPB, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Hymettus, queen bees were released at the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve.
DH: At least 150 lives could be saved under changes to the way 999 calls are received which will prioritise call outs to the most critically ill patients. The changes will mean that ambulances are saved from making over half a million wasted journeys a year.
From June 2012, ambulance staff will be given up to 60 seconds longer to get more information from Red 2 calls. This will not necessarily translate into a 60 second delay, in many cases it will mean that a more appropriate response vehicle gets to the patient more quickly. Under the new system the Government will expect Ambulance Trusts to get to more critically ill patients within the 8 minute national target.
DH: Hospices are to benefit from up to £60m of funding to help improve the quality of care for people nearing the end of their lives. The funding – which is open to all adult & children’s hospices in England – will help improve care for patients & families by enhancing the hospice environment, as well as supporting the care hospices provide to people in their own homes.
DfE: 15 brand new University Technical Colleges (UTCs) have been approved to open in 2013 & 2014. They will have involvement from around 200 high-profile employers – including household names like Jaguar Land Rover, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. They will also have significant input from world-class universities, such as Cambridge and Warwick.
ACE: Arts Council England has launched Creative Industry Finance - a new scheme for cultural & creative enterprises, offering small loans and practical business advice and support.
Working in partnership with the East London Small Business Centre, they are offering creative entrepreneurs the opportunity to apply for loans of £5,000 - £25,000 and receive practical business development support. The initial one-year pilot of the scheme is taking place in London with an investment of £200,000. A second pilot area will be announced soon.
DCMS: TV viewers in Northern Ireland will be able to watch TG4 and RTÃ 1 & 2 on Freeview following digital TV switchover, the UK Government confirmed last week. RTÃ, the Republic of Ireland’s national broadcaster, and Irish language broadcaster TG4 have joined forces to form a not-for-profit venture which will be responsible for the installation of the new infrastructure. Freeview delivery of these channels will be supplemented by overspill coverage from Saorview, the equivalent of Freeview in the Republic of Ireland.
STFC: Science and Technology Facilities Council chief executive Professor John Womersley has announced the UK is confident of continuing astronomical research using telescopes on the Canary Islands, and that operations on two Hawaiian telescopes would be extended to complete planned science. However, the Hawaiian telescopes would be either transferred to alternate operators or decommissioned once the existing science missions were completed.
DECC: The UK and Iceland have signed an agreement that could pave the way for geothermal power from Iceland’s volcanoes to supply electricity to the UK. This came as UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry visited the Hellisheidi geothermal field, located on an active volcanic ridge in the south west of the country.
ScotGov: Hundreds of young people will be encouraged to ‘give golf a go’ at a huge day of activities that will form the centrepiece of a Festival of ClubGolf in the run up to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. The activity day, held at the Castle Stuart course on 11 July 2012 in the week of the tournament, will see youngsters take part in a putting & chipping challenge, crazy golf competition and a specialist coaching zone, in the biggest week-long event yet in ClubGolf’s successful history.
Press release & links
STFC: According to the Science and Technology Facilities Council, for the last time until the year 2117, people around the world will have a chance to witness the transit of Venus as the planet passes directly between Earth and the Sun on Tuesday 5 June &Wednesday 6 June. .
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WO: Wales Office Minister, David Jones, is urging the cities of Swansea & Newport to seize the opportunity to become a Super-Connected City and revolutionise the way their residents & businesses get online. The 2 cities are eligible to bid for a share of a £50m funding pot designed to help them roll out ultrafast broadband (For this programme, ultrafast means speeds as close to 80-100Mbps as is currently possible).
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published guidance on the bidding process for the funding and cities must produce plans for a contiguous area offering fixed ultrafast broadband as well as high speed wireless connectivity.
ScotGov: Scotland launched a Climate Justice Fund last week to help some of the world’s poorest communities tackle the impact of climate change, it was announced recently. First Minister Alex Salmond was joined by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to announce details of the fund. This will deliver on the Scottish Government manifesto commitment to co-ordinate a climate adaptation fund.
DECC: A £10m scheme aimed at getting low carbon forms of heating like biomass boilers, solar hot water panels & heat pumps into the homes of social housing tenants across Great Britain opened to applications last week.
Following the success of the first social landlord competition under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme last year, DECC has launched a bigger & better second round. The amount of money available has increased from £3m to £10m and registered providers for social housing such as local authorities and social housing associations will be able to bid for up to around £175,000 each.
The scheme is being managed by EST and interested applicants can apply online (closing date for applications is 4 July 2012). DECC is hosting a number of seminars (see press release) across the country to provide further information on the scheme and would encourage potential applicants to attend.
CLG: A further multi-million pound cash boost for communities will help tackle the blight of empty properties and bring thousands of homes back into use, has been announced by Communities Minister Andrew Stunell. The number of long term empty homes has fallen to the lowest level since 2004, but with 720,000 empty homes across England, Mr Stunell believes there is still more to do.
DH: Women who have postnatal depression or who have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a baby will get more support from the NHS, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has recently pledged. The extra 4,200 health visitors – who provide services for expectant and new parents at home and in local communities after they have had a baby – being recruited by the Government will get enhanced training so they can spot the early signs of postnatal depression.
WAG: The Minister with responsibility for the Welsh Language, Leighton Andrews, has decided upon the terms of Ofcom’s Welsh language scheme. He has decided to impose a scheme which includes a measure about Ofcom considering the use of the Welsh language when carrying out its functions involving services to the public. The Minister has informed Ofcom and the Welsh Language Commissioner that he has exercised the Welsh Ministers’ powers under section 14(5) of the 1993 Act.
ScotGov: An oil & gas industry strategy for Scotland, targeting higher long-term recovery rates, greater exports and £30bn annual sales by 2020, was published by the First Minister recently. Oil & gas is the largest industry sector in the UK, contributing almost a fifth of all corporation tax paid to the UK Treasury and supporting 440,000 jobs – nearly half of them in Scotland.
Over 4 decades, 40 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) have been recovered from the North Sea, delivering £300bn in revenues to the UK Government. The wholesale value of reserves remaining to be extracted is estimated to be up to £1.5 trillion.
Defra: Homes, roads & parks could all be better protected from the effects of climate change after an agreement was struck between ministers and local government. In agreement between Defra, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Local Government Association (LGA) called for vital public services to be better protected and emergency planning & social care made more resilient after signing a joint statement showing their commitment to adapt the country to climate change.
The agreement was reached at a Climate Summit hosted by the LGA in response to the impacts identified in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012, published earlier this year. Their findings will inform the National Adaptation Programme, which the Government will publish in 2013.
DfE: The Deputy PM has hailed a transformation in free early education as he announced a shake-up of the way it is delivered. At the moment, all 3- and 4-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of free early education per week. 2-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were due to start receiving free pre-school education from 2013, but the Deputy Prime Minister wants to see the programme rolling out early from September 2012.
In addition, the hours in which parents can bring in their children for their free place will be extended by 2 hours. Currently, parents are restricted by having to drop their children off no earlier than 8am and picking them up no later than 6pm. This will be extended to 7am - 7pm.
DH: A call for evidence (by 27 July 2012) on how procurement in the NHS can be transformed has been issued. Views & contributions are being sought from the NHS, industry, other government departments, the academic, scientific & third sectors and social care. This could include actions for the Department of Health, wider government, industry, the NHS Commissioning Board, other National bodies, the NHS, or other sectors.
Press release & links ~ CBI comment
DH: Keeping track of what you eat and choosing healthier foods could be made easier thanks to a UK-wide consultation (closes on 6 August 2012) launched recently. UK health ministers want to see all food manufacturers & retailers use the same system to show – on the front of packs – how much fat, salt & sugar, and how many calories are in their products.
EU News: Industrial innovation is one of the key drivers to improve our competitiveness. This is why the Commission has launched a new public consultation, which is meant to provide input for the mid-term review of the industrial policy communication planned for September 2012. The public consultation runs until 7 August 2012. A summary report will be published on the public consultation webpage.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has begun a public consultation (closes on 23 August 2012) on a new anonymisation code of practice. The code will provide guidance on how information can be successfully anonymised and how to assess the risks of identification. A final version of the ‘Anonymisation Code of Practice’ is due for publication in September 2012.
The consultation will be relevant to any organisation that wants to release anonymised data, for example under the government’s open data agenda.
The ICO has also launched a tendering process to establish a network of experts to share best practice around the release of data in an anonymised form.
WAG: The Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert has launched the initial findings of the Review of Qualifications for 14 to19-year-olds, for consultation. Following this consultation and further evidence gathering, the Board will submit its final report & recommendations to the Deputy Minister by the end of 2012.
You can take part in the consultation by submitting your responses to the questions raised. In addition, you can apply to present your views to the Review Board in person, by attending the evidence day on 11 July 2012 in Newtown. The closing date for responses is 1 September 2012.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is consulting on rules to ensure investors taking out a retail investment product such as a personal pension or a life policy receive a realistic indication of potential future returns & charges.
Send the FSA your responses to Chapter 2 by 29 June 2012 and to Chapters 3 & 4 by 31 August. Responses to Chapter 5 should be sent direct to the FRC.
EU News: The European Commission is inviting comments on the application of EU state aid rules to the public funding of broadband networks. Comments on the draft guidelines should be submitted by 3 September 2012. On the basis of the comments received, the Commission intends to adopt definitive Broadband Guidelines in December 2012.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
WAG: New guidance aimed at helping to reduce the time it takes to deal with planning applications has been launched by Environment Minister, John Griffiths. The latest addition to the improvements is a new practice guide designed to encourage people submitting planning applications to talk through their plans with their local authorities before actually submitting them.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency saw an increase in the number of food incidents it investigated last year. These included reports of contaminated or illegal food entering the food chain, with some potentially harmful to the public. According to the Annual Report of Incidents 2011, 1,714 food incidents were investigated by the FSA last year, compared to 1,505 in 2010.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has exceeded its target to deliver 6,000 affordable homes each year, official statistics have confirmed. In total, 6,882 homes were delivered under the Affordable Housing Supply Programme in 2011/12, supporting jobs & work for the Scottish construction industry. Of that total, 82% were for social rent.
WAG: Investment in growth, quicker access to NHS services, success rates of apprentices and greater support for small businesses are among the progress outlined in the Welsh Government’s first comprehensive annual report. The Programme for Government annual report - the most comprehensive record of Welsh Government progress ever produced - tracks progress on over 300 indicators of government work.
WAG: Efforts across Wales in 2011-12 to tackle C.difficile infections resulted in an overall reduction of more than 32%. This means that 622 fewer patients were affected and about 37 lives saved. This significant achievement builds on the 2010-11 success of 789 fewer cases and about 50 lives saved.
ONS: The number of people aged 20 to 34 who still live with their parents increased by 20% between 1997 and 2011, according to analysis published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
There are a number of reasons that might account for this growth in numbers living with parents, but it is noteworthy that the increase over the past decade coincides with an increase in the average price paid by first-time home-buyers of 40% between 2002 & 2011.
NCEPOD: Better assessment on hospital admission and recognition & response when acutely ill patients deteriorate could have prevented cardiac arrest and the subsequent resuscitation attempts in a third of cases, the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) has revealed in its latest report Time to Intervene?
The national enquiry is calling for improvements in recognition & response to patient deterioration & decision-making around what care is likely to benefit acutely unwell patients, including do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions.
CO: Departmental business plans, published last week, set out departments’ priorities for the coming 12 months, the specific reform actions they will take & when, and expenditure for each remaining year of the spending review period.
General Reports and Other Publications
IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies considers a new operational concept currently under development by the United States military - The emergence of the Air-Sea Battle Concept.
NIA: The Assembly Committee for Social Development has published its report on fuel poverty. The wide ranging report focuses on potential solutions to fuel poverty and examines the mechanisms by which these solutions can be further explored, prioritised and implemented.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has called for major changes to the £5.73bn UK dentistry market after a market study found that it is not always working in the best interests of patients. The OFT study found that patients have insufficient information to make informed decisions about their choice of dentist and the dental treatments they receive.
Alongside this, a new survey conducted as part of the study suggests that each year around 500,000 patients may be provided with inaccurate information by dentists regarding their entitlement to receive particular dental treatments on the NHS, and as a result they may pay more to receive private dental treatment.
CH: A Chatham House paper, A Global Redesign? Shaping the Circular Economy, argues that in a world of volatile resource prices, efficient use of resources is critical to future economic competitiveness– for countries and companies alike.
Central to the CE is the idea that open production systems – in which resources are extracted, used to make products and become waste after the product is consumed – should be replaced by systems that reuse resources & conserve energy.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its 88th Report of Session 2010-12, Ministry of Defence: Managing Change in the Defence Workforce, as HC 1905. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "The Ministry of Defence has gone ahead with cuts to its military and civilian workforce without a proper understanding of what skills it will need in the future.
We recognise that the MOD must make tough financial decisions if it is to reduce its spending by 7.5 per cent a year by 2015, and that it has acted decisively. But we are concerned that these cuts have been determined by the need to cut costs in the short term rather than by considering the MOD's strategic objectives in the long term and the skills it will need to deliver them successfully”.
NO: There were multiple failures by Southwark Council over the care & housing needs of an epileptic mother of two, registered blind, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report, she concludes that the Council failed to put a care package in place for the family in a reasonable time, and that the effect on the woman was worsened by her recent loss of sight and the consequent difficulties she had trying to look after her family.
The Ombudsman welcomes the Council’s positive response to her findings and its agreement to her recommended remedy, which includes paying £13,100 compensation to the complainant.
Ofsted: Ofsted has announced the results of its consultation on changes to the way it inspects schools, further education & skills, and initial teacher education. The changes, which come into effect from 1 September 2012, are intended to support headteachers & principals in their work to provide the best possible education for pupils and learners.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its 86th Report of Session 2010-12, The free entitlement to education for three and four year olds, as HC 1893. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "We welcome the fact that over 800,000 three and four year olds are now being provided with access to free education. Early years provision has expanded significantly since this policy was introduced a decade ago.
However, while the Department for Education and local authorities have concentrated on ensuring that places for children are available, there has been less attention on how value for money can be improved from the funding, some £1.9 billion in 2011-12”.
CH: Despite its gigantic production capacity & trade links with the rest of the world, China’s financial sector lacks depth and has little connectivity with the international financial system.
A report, Shifting Capital: The Rise of Financial Centres in Greater China, argues that China needs to develop a deeper & more diversified financial sector that reflects the size and the international integration of its real economy to ensure the efficient allocation of capital. Yet building efficient financial systems in China and modern financial centres in Greater China will be riddled with challenges & obstacles.
PC&PE: Launching the Health Committee's Education, Training and Workforce Planning report, HC. Chair, Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, said: "Current education and training arrangements are complex, inflexible and unfair. This complexity makes it more difficult to change the way care is delivered and respond to the needs of patients; the NHS needs much more effective arrangements for planning and training its future workforce”.
For those reasons, we welcome the plan to create Health Education England, alongside Local Education and Training Boards and we welcome the remit given to the Centre for Workforce Intelligence. But the Government urgently needs to provide more clear and detailed information about how these bodies will operate and work together in the new system”.
TUC: Commenting on a study published last week on the Occupational and Environmental Medicine website, which found that frequent night shifts are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “This study confirms previous research which has shown that shift work is now the second biggest cause of work-related cancer deaths after asbestos. We need urgent advice from the HSE and government so that employers can reduce the risk of female workers developing breast cancer, for example by identifying safer shift patterns”.
FDA: ARC has published its response to the Treasury Select Committee's (TSC's) report on Closing the Tax Gap: HMRC's record at ensuring tax compliance. ARC - the Association of Revenue and Customs - is the union representing senior HMRC staff and is part of the FDA.
EHRC: The findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s formal review of human rights in England & Wales have been supported by a new report by the United Nations. The UN Human Rights Council issued the UK’s latest human rights ‘report card’ on Thursday 24 May 2012. 61 countries commended the UK’s ongoing commitment to human rights, but made recommendations for improvements.
The UN’s 132 recommendations encourage the UK to strengthen human rights protection for vulnerable individuals. It says the government must ensure that children, women, ethnic minorities and disabled people are protected from violence & discrimination.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its 1st Report of Session 2012-13, The Government Procurement Card, as HC 128. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "The controls currently applied to the use of the Government Procurement Card by civil servants and other public employees are not strict enough to deter and prevent inappropriate use”.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its 2nd Report of Session 2012-13, Mobile Technology in Policing, as HC 129. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "The idea behind distributing £71 million to police forces so that they could buy over 41,000 BlackBerrys and other mobile devices was to enable officers to spend more time on the beat, increase efficiency and reduce paper work.
But in practice the Home Office focused more on providing the kit than on whether the benefits envisaged were actually being realised and by when. Neither the Home Office nor the National Policing Improvement Agency know what the benefits have been and whether value for money has been achieved”.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham has introduced new regulations to Parliament aimed at modernising Scotland’s legal profession. The regulations, which come into force in July 2012, follow the passage of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, and pave the way for legal services to the public and business to be organised and delivered in new ways.
WAG: New proposals requiring food businesses such as restaurants, takeaways & supermarkets in Wales to display food hygiene ratings at their premises have been outlined. The Welsh Government will introduce its Food Hygiene Rating (Wales) Bill, designed to provide consumers with more information about where they eat or buy food and raise food hygiene practices among businesses.
OFT: The OFT has provisionally decided to refer the private motor insurance market to the Competition Commission after it found evidence that insurers compete in a dysfunctional way that may push up premiums for drivers by £225m a year.
WAG: Under-16s in Wales will not be allowed to receive a cosmetic piercing without their parent or guardian’s consent, if proposed Welsh Government legislation goes ahead. Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said the legislation would also include an outright ban on intimate cosmetic piercings for under-18s.
Currently, there is no age restriction for cosmetic piercing. As long as a young person can demonstrate they understand what they are having done, and the risks involved, they do not need their parent or guardian’s permission.
ScotGov: Further measures to safeguard £ms in deposits paid by tenants renting properties in Scotland, have been introduced, it was announced recently. Housing Minister Keith Brown has approved 2 more tenancy deposit schemes from SafeDeposits Scotland and Mydeposits Scotland.
All 3 schemes will operate across Scotland from 2 July 2012 when the legal requirement to submit deposits into a scheme will begin. In order to provide landlords with time to prepare the first category of deposits to be paid into the schemes will be from November this year. when the legal requirement to submit deposits into a scheme will begin.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The EU recently launched a challenge to Argentina's import restrictions at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. Under WTO dispute settlement procedures, the EU is first requesting consultations with Argentina in a bid to have these measures - which negatively affect the EU's trade and investment - lifted.
The restrictive measures include Argentina's import licensing regime and notably the procedures to obtain an import licence as well as the obligation on companies to balance imports with exports. This is a first step in the WTO dispute settlement system. If no solution is found within 60 days, then the EU can request a WTO Panel to be established to rule on the legality of Argentina's actions.
EU News: In 2011, the European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, helped more than 22 000 European citizens, companies, NGOs, and associations, either by investigating complaints, answering information requests, or giving advice via his online interactive guide. More than 18 000 citizens used the guide to obtain advice on where to turn with their problems.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a package of recommendations for budgetary measures & economic reforms to enhance financial stability, boost growth and create employment across the EU. The recommendations are country-specific, taking account of the individual situation of each Member State.
The Commission has also issued recommendations for the euro area as a whole, and set out its vision for the EU-level policy action needed to complement the national measures to deliver an ambitious, two-tiered EU growth initiative. It has also presented the conclusions of 12 in-depth reviews in the context of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure and made recommendations to the Council relating to the Excessive Deficit Procedure.
EU News: In 2011, the 27 EU Member States received more than 300,000 asylum applications, a 16.2% increase from 2010. Although this remains far below the peak of 425 000 applications received in 2001, increases in asylum flows can stretch the reception capacity of some Member States.
Last week the Commission proposed to improve the overall efficiency of EURODAC, the system which facilitates the quick & correct identification of the Member State responsible for assessing an asylum claim. EURODAC, a system for collecting asylum seekers' fingerprints, has been operating since 2003 and is an essential part of the EU's Common European Asylum System.
WAG: A £2.5m project aimed at forging an enterprising culture and raising prosperity amongst communities in 3 south Wales counties has received an EU funding boost. Led by Timebanking Wales, the project will invite people in Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Bridgend to join Community Enterprise Networks where they will undergo a skills audit to identify their particular talents which can be used in their local areas.
Those who join the CENs will be thanked with time credits, equivalent to the amount of time they have voluntarily spent using their skills. Time credits can then be exchanged for an equivalent time spent on educational and cultural activities, developing new skills to improve their capabilities and work opportunities.
EU News: On the eve of World No Tobacco Day last week, the European Commission published an EU study on attitudes towards tobacco. On average, 60% of citizens support measures to make tobacco less visible & attractive, such as keeping tobacco products out of sight in shops or curbing the use of attractive flavours and colours. At the same time, other figures give cause for concern: 28% of EU citizens aged 15 and over smoke, and 70% of the smokers and ex-smokers took up the habit before the age of 18.
EU News: Improvements to on-board recording equipment (digital tachographs) should make life easier in future for truck drivers and haulage companies that obey EU rules on driving & rest times. They should also make it much easier for properly trained & equipped officers to detect & punish fraud and tampering, says a report adopted at first reading by the transport committee on 31 May.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a report assessing progress with convergence towards the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 8 Member States (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden).
According to the Treaty, the Commission reports every 2 years on the subject. The report concludes that none of the countries examined fulfils all conditions for adopting the euro at this stage, and that there should therefore be no change in their status of 'Member State with a derogation'.
EU News: Two teams of researchers recently had innovative behavioural studies published in the journal Science which suggested that low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides can have significant effects on bee colonies. Following publication of the studies, the European Commission asked EFSA to compare the actual exposure of bees to neonicotinoids – as a result of their use as plant protection products in the EU – with the exposure levels used in the research.
In its statement published recently, EFSA concludes for honeybees that the concentrations tested in the published studies are higher than the highest recorded residue levels found in nectar for the neonicotinoids thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid.
EU News: The Commission has published a Report on the 2011 developments in the areas of immigration and asylum, accompanied by a Eurobarometer on European citizens' attitudes towards cross-border mobility, migration and security.
PC&PE: EU plans to impose new environmental regulations on farmers across Europe will reduce food production and are likely to harm the environment, says the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. In their latest report on Greening the Common Agricultural Policy MPs reject the European Commission’s proposed ‘greening’ regulations in favour of giving the Member States the flexibility to encourage farmers to tailor their land management to local circumstances.
Launching the report, Anne McIntosh MP, EFRA Committee Chair said; “……………. It’s a nonsense to think that farmers from Finland to Sicily should be tied to the same narrow prescriptive rules. One-size-fits all regulation cannot work across the range of environments found in Europe”.
PC&PE: Proposed EU rules on the working hours and conditions for pilots and cabin crew must be improved or safety could be at risk, says the Transport Committee in a report examining draft proposals from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to change the rules that govern how many hours a pilot can fly.
EU News: Industrial innovation is one of the key drivers to improve our competitiveness. This is why the Commission has launched a new public consultation, which is meant to provide input for the mid-term review of the industrial policy communication planned for September 2012 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU News: The European Commission is inviting comments on the application of EU state aid rules to the public funding of broadband networks. Comments on the draft guidelines should be submitted by 3 September 2012 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
CHUK: A newly-discovered protein found only in prostate cancer cells could be used as a marker of the disease and offer a new treatment target, according to a study in the British Journal of Cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Each year around 40,800 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK and around 10,700 die from the disease.
CO: The first awards from the £10m Mutual Support Programme have been announced recently by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office. 3 promising projects, where entrepreneurial frontline staff are working to take over the services they provide, each have been awarded thousands of pounds towards business & professional services to aid their development.
Mutuals are staff-led organisations run or owned by their employees. Public Service mutuals spin out of the public sector and give their employees a high degree of control over how the organisation is run. Evidence also suggests that employee ownership can boost productivity by up to 19%.
Business and Other Briefings
DECC: The UK is offering small emitters & hospital installations the opportunity to ‘opt out’ from the EU ETS from 2013 as part of Government efforts to cut down on red-tape. The Opt Out scheme could save industry up to £80m from 2013-2020, depending on take up from the around 250 eligible installations, accounting for 1% of UK EU ETS emissions.
The Government is now inviting applications for the ‘Opt Out scheme’ which has been published on the DECC website. The application period runs until 18 July 2012..
FSA: The Financial Services Authority will require all banks, building societies & credit unions to prominently display posters and stickers in branches and on websites explaining which deposit guarantee scheme applies to their customers’ deposits. These rules will take effect from 31 August 2012.
If customers are using the UK branch of a foreign bank from the European Economic Area, (EEA), the posters will have to set out that those customers are not covered by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). In this case they would have to specify which national scheme will provide protection.
10 DS: An £82.5m StartUp Loan scheme has been launched that will give our next generation of entrepreneurs the finance & support to potentially start over 30,000 new businesses, in a move to boost enterprise & economic growth – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
OS: 10 finalists are now in line to win a share of £115,000, as part of Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation Challenge, which is aiming to improve local neighbourhoods in Britain. The winning ideas included an app, which maps out your emotions; an educational tool, which helps school children learn more about their local environment; and a device that reports a crime straight to your local police.
The finalists will now be invited to Ordnance Survey on 20 June 2012 to take part in a ‘Dragons Den’ style GeoVation Showcase, where they will pitch for a share of £115,000 to fund their idea.
GPS: It is envisaged that the award of the replacement Legal Services framework agreement will take place at the end of September 2012. To ensure continuity of service provision during the development of the replacement Legal Services framework, the current agreement (RM373) has been extended for 6 months until 30 November 2012. Customers can continue to place orders for the duration of the extension.
Press release & links
ScotGov: Four up & coming architecture firms have been chosen to represent Scotland at the world’s greatest architecture showcase this year. Do Architecture, GRAS design studio, Stone Opera and Pidgin Perfect – all based in Glasgow – will take part in the Venice Architecture Biennale in September 2012 and are currently working up plans that will lead to a series of events engaging with communities in Venice.
GPS: After working closely with Cabinet Office, negotiations with Microsoft have concluded on the shape of the new Public Sector Agreement (PSA12), which will succeed PSA09. PSA09 has been extended, incorporating the terms of the December amendment, until 30 June 2012. PSA12, a 3-year agreement, will begin on 1 July and be available until 30 April 2015
STFC: Talking Science is a series of popular science lectures that take place around Science and Technology Facilities Council sites across the country. They offer a chance to hear about and discuss some of the hottest areas of science with some of the leading experts.
The next event (Thursday 21st June 2012 - 6.00pm) is ‘Hollywood meets science' - Dr Hugh Mortimer - STFC RAL Space. This talk will describe what's really involved in providing scientific advice to a Hollywood blockbuster, as well as using film clips to illustrate how science can be used in films to add value, and why sometimes film directors get it so wrong.
Press release & links
WAG: The Welsh Government is holding a series of open meetings at its regional offices to hear the views of interested parties on how to improve the innovation performance of Wales. The meetings form part of a Wales-wide consultation on the development of an Innovation Strategy for Wales.
Press release & links
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