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WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

ICOOutsourcing a task does not mean an end to an organisation's legal responsibility - Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has been served with a Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) of £325,000 following a serious breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said recently.

The data breach occurred when an individual engaged by the Trust’s IT service provider, Sussex Health Informatics Service (HIS), was tasked to destroy approximately 1,000 hard drives held in a room accessed by key code at Brighton General Hospital in September & October 2010.  The Trust has been unable to explain how the individual removed at least 252 of the approximate 1,000 hard drives they were supposed to destroy from the hospital during their 5 days on site.

The Trust has now committed to providing a secure central store for hard drives and other media, reviewing the process for vetting potential IT suppliers, obtaining the services of a fully accredited ISO 27001 IT waste disposal company and making progress towards central network access. 
If the above item raises any concerns / issues as to your own organisation why not consider one of the ICO’s FREE Advisory Visits: Data Protection Advice - In a Day, which are aimed at SMEs such as smaller public authorities, charities & third sector organisations.

There are 3 main areas that they will look at; security, records management and requests for personal information, plus providing 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.

CSJ:  With budget cuts we can only afford targeted funding that delivers value for money - Crude & flawed yardsticks for measuring child poverty should be scrapped and replaced with a range of new indicators reflecting the true causes of deprivation, according to a leading think-tank.  The Centre for Social Justice condemns the existing official formula as arbitrary & faulty and says that it conveys almost nothing about the suffocating nature of genuine hardship.

Christian Guy, Managing Director of the CSJ, said: ….. “Poverty is about more than money - it is about the family breakdown, addiction, debt-traps, and failing schools that blight the lives of our children."   The current formula, based mainly on income inequality targets, has led to narrow & expensive policy responses, costing taxpayers at least £150bn from 2004 to 2010.   

In a new report, the CSJ calls for a complete overhaul of the system, in which the accent would be on measuring the underlying causes of blighted young lives, such as family breakdown, welfare dependency and educational failure, rather than the symptoms of low relative income.
Press release & links ~ CSJ: Rethinking Child Poverty ~ Coalition tug of war stifles solutions to family breakdown, warns CSJ ~ UNICEF calls on austerity Britain not to harm children ~ NICEF Report Card 10, Measuring Child Poverty ~ ONS: At Risk of Poverty Rates 2010 ~ 12 cost-free policies to reform Britain: a 12 days of Christmas gift to the Government ~ Strengthening the Family and Tackling Family Breakdown. Fatherlessness, Dysfunction, and Parental Separation/Divorce ~ Response of the Centre for Social Justice to Child Poverty and Improving Life Chances - Consulting on a New Approach ~ JRF - New Welsh poverty figures threaten 2020 child poverty target ~ Previous UNICEF UK response to Child poverty Strategy ~ DWP report: CPU Child Poverty Pilots: Interim synthesis report ~ IFS:  The better off can cut back on expensive luxuries, but for the poor that is often not an option ~ WAG: Child poverty ~ Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Wales (scroll down) ~ ‘Child Poverty Solutions Wales’ website

NHS ConfedTime to call ‘Time’ on cheap & accessible booze? - NHS Information Centre figures published recently show the burden of alcohol on the health service is unsustainable

The NHS Confederation's Jo Webber, said: "Alcohol is already costing the NHS more than £3 billion a year and the problem is taking an intolerable toll on our society.  In some parts of the country more than a fifth of A&E admissions are alcohol related.  Drink can be a contributory factor with some of our biggest killers such as cancer.  It can also lead to particular difficulties for people with mental health problems.  The fact that only one in 18 people who are dependent on alcohol receives treatment shows we need to up our game. But solving the problem is not something the NHS can do alone”. 
WAG:  ‘Rural’ by definition means few affordable houses or well-paid jobs - The Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis has recently visited housing projects in Llanbedr and Crickhowell to see how, by working closely with communities, unique solutions can overcome rural housing problems.

A pan-Wales Rural Housing Enabler Network was established in 2008 and the Welsh Government provided £150k a year to support the establishment of 10 Rural Housing Enabler posts, alongside funding from Local Authority, and RSL partners and other bodies such as National Park Authorities.
HMRCe-Trotters are fools if they think they can horse around when it comes to paying their taxes - People trading on the internet who haven’t paid all the tax they owe have just a couple of days left to take part in an opportunity offered by HM Revenue & Customs to get their tax affairs in order on the best terms available.  

Under the time-limited opportunity, known as the e-Markets Disclosure Facility, online marketplace traders who come forward before 14 June 2012 to register their intention to take part in the campaign can benefit from lower penalties than those who HMRC catches up with.

People who sell only a few personal items, however, and who are not traders are unlikely to be liable to pay tax on what they sell, and are not being targeted by this campaign.  Those who are unsure whether their e-marketplace activity could be seen as trading can visit HMRC’s website and can watch a YouTube video for advice.
ieaWhy not a version for top bankers & managers whose actions slash share values and ruin the economy? - In a new paper released recently by the Institute of Economic Affairs, it was argued that that Britain should introduce a debt brake to ensure the Chancellor balances his budget. 

If the Chancellor fails to observe the debt brake, there should be a public exchange of letters between him and the OBR explaining why & what action is being taken to rectify the situation.  The Chancellor could also face a personal financial penalty of up to 20% of his salary.
EU NewsA smart way to find out about EHIC - Just in time for the summer holidays, the EURO 2012 Football Championship and the London 2012 Olympics, the European Commission has launched an application for smartphones explaining how to use the European Health Insurance Card.
Press release & links

Forthcoming event:  Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit  - 19-20 September 2012, London - Strategic Roadmaps to Secure the Enterprise and Reduce Risk - As the premier gathering of enterprise IT security and risk management executives, the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit takes a comprehensive look at the entire spectrum of IT security, business continuity management and risk, including: network and infrastructure security, identity and access management, compliance, privacy, fraud, business continuity management, and resilience.
 
Experience two days of interactive presentations, guest keynotes, real-world case studies, panel discussions, peer networking and topic-specific roundtable and workshop discussions.

Click here to view the full agenda and register.

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

General News

WWF: New legislation has removed Brazil’s long-standing Forest Code. The Brazilian government has issued new legislation that grants amnesties & promotes impunity for environmental criminals, and significantly weakens legal protections for forests across Brazil, according to Comitê Brasil in Defense of the Forests – a coalition of more than 200 civil society entities, including WWF-Brazil.
 
ippr: As the Leveson Inquiry continues its works, new polling commissioned by the think tank IPPR shows a very strong public mood for strict regulation of the press and for limits on the proportion of the media that any one individual or company can own.  The polling also indicates strong public preference for media owners to be resident full- time in the UK and to be full UK tax payers.
 
IFSGovernment plans to localise the help that low-income families receive with their council tax, while cutting funding for it by 10%, leave local councils with a tough challenge to design replacement schemes, according to Institute for Fiscal Studies researchers.  A new report, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and published recently by the IFS, examines the likely effects of this policy and the options available to councils.
 
MAS: New research from the Money Advice Service reveals that, collectively, the nation plans to shell out £3bn this summer – averaging £111 per household.   However, when it comes to summer spending, millions of people are unaware of the likely impact it will have on their household budget - well over half (60%, equivalent to 14m households) of those surveyed admitting they’re unaware of the likely costs of their summer celebrations.
 
FSA: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is currently investigating a recent increase in cases of cryptosporidiosis.  No source for these has been identified although the Food Standards Agency is contributing to the HPA led multi-agency investigation.
 
SOCATwo cyber criminals who provided a range of services to credit card fraudsters have been sentenced to almost 5 years. One of them, Jay Moore (who used the online moniker of ‘t0pp8uzz’), set up the ‘Freshshop’ website to facilitate the bulk sale of stolen financial data.

Analysis of Moore’s computers revealed that he held the payment card details of more than 340,000 individuals, and fraud losses attributed to card details available on his website have been reported as being in excess of £26.9m by the card issuers.   This is in reality a conservative figure and the actual loss is likely to be considerably more. 
 
LGA: A survey of frontline councillors carried out by the Local Government Association reveals that public opposition is the single biggest barrier to the building of new homes.  However, development which comes with appropriate infrastructure is nearly 4 times more likely to be supported by the public, according to councillors.

The LGA has launched a ‘Housing the Nation' campaign, calling on government to remove some of the restrictions hampering local authority efforts to tackle the nation's housing crisis.
 
WAG: Plans for a year of activities & events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas in 2014 have been announced. 

Housing, Regeneration & Heritage Minister, Huw Lewis, joined Hannah Ellis, the writer’s granddaughter & honorary patron of the festival, to unveil plans for the Dylan Thomas 100 (DT100) Festival at an event at the Hay Literary Festival, where he called for groups & organisations interested in staging an event to apply for a share of the £750,000 of funding (by 5 July 2012) that has been made available.
 
SocitmSocitm are very pleased to report that the 2 day kick off of their pilot Top Talent programme, which they’re running in association with IBM, was an extreme success. 

This pilot programme will run for a further 6 months, comprising of regular 1-2-1 sessions, mentored projects, group community calls and webinars / briefings.  Delegates will be finally assessed in November 2012 and graduate at a ceremony that will form part of Socitm 2012's Awards Dinner (28 November 2012, Birmingham).

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DWP: A tapas restaurant, tattoo parlour, party entertainer & removals company are among 4,560 businesses which have been launched thanks to a Government scheme to help entrepreneurial jobseekers, Employment Minister Chris Grayling has revealed.
 
The businesses have started up thanks to the New Enterprise Allowance, which partners jobseekers with a mentor to draw up a business plan, then gives them financial support to help them through the early months and the number is growing all the time.  Hundreds of new businesses are now starting up every week under the scheme.
 
ScotGov: The next steps in a government drive to cut red tape for farmers were announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead last week. Speaking at Scotsheep 2012 in Ayrshire, Mr Lochhead said that Brian Pack had now completed the initial scoping phase of his review and his report – Doing Better: The Scoping Report for the Initiative to Reduce Red Tape in Agriculture – has been published.
 
CLGClearing out the louts, setting up savvy services and rallying round the community are top of a 'shopping list for success' that can transform run down neighbourhood shops into parades to be proud of, announced Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last week.
 
Mr Pickles has published a new guide that gives hands on practical advice & insights on how to restore local shops into vibrant business areas that are full of local character and sit at the heart of neighbourhood communities.  This builds on the high street review by Mary Portas and the announcement of 12 'Portas Pilots'.
 
ScotGov: Scores of dealers will be subject to licensing regulations under tough new measures to clamp down on metal thieves announced by the Justice Secretary. Kenny MacAskill made the announcement as he joined British Transport Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland for the launch of their Cut Out Metal Theft campaign.
 
Metal dealers with a annual turnover of £1m or less will require a licence. This raises the exemption limit from the current level of £100,000, which is not fit for purpose given the increase in value over recent year. Reponses to a consultation into the licensing of metal dealers have also been published.
 
ScotGov: A massive programme to transform Scotland’s ageing houses into energy efficient homes has been announced. The Scottish Government hopes to work with energy companies to identify around £200m a year to assist homes in areas of fuel poverty save money and become more energy efficient.
 
WAG: Environment Minster, John Griffiths, has announced grants totalling £348,052 for 31 community led Tidy Towns funded projects to improve local environment quality. 

Consultations

ScotGov: Urban communities across Scotland could be given greater opportunities to own their own land & buildings under ideas for a new bill. Local Government Minister Derek Mackay has launched a wide ranging consultation exploring how to give local people a more direct say in what happen in their communities. Responses to the consultation will help shape the proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.
 
The consultation is exploratory and the views expressed on the ideas set out will help shape what goes forward in draft legislation.  The consultation runs until 29 August 2012.  

There will be a consultation on a draft Bill in spring 2013 with a view to legislation being ready for introduction to the Scottish Parliament in winter 2013.
 
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has recently put forward proposals to further restrict the right to buy housing policy.  The proposed changes would cut the discounts available to those who wish to purchase their home through right to buy and place greater restrictions on where it would be available, for example, in areas where housing is in under particular pressure. 
 
The changes could lead to up to 20,000 fewer social homes being sold off over the next 10 years, helping to boost the stock of affordable homes for rent.  While the main focus of the consultation (closes on Thursday 30 August 2012) is on tightening the current rules around who qualifies for right to buy, it also raises the possibility of ending right to buy all together at some point in the future. 
 
ScotGov: The passage of the Scotland Act 2012 means that from April 2015 the Scottish Parliament will be empowered to introduce & manage taxes on the purchase or leasing of land & buildings and the disposal of waste to landfill. Mr Swinney has launched the consultation (closes on 30 August 2012) on a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax to replace Stamp Duty Land Tax.
 
The proposals include changing the structure of the tax to a progressive system where the amount of tax paid is more closely related to the value of the property. 2 other consultations will be issued before the end of 2012.
 
Mr Swinney also outlined his plans to establish Revenue Scotland, a small & efficient body which will work with Registers of Scotland and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to ensure the collection and administration of the taxes at a lower cost than that proposed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides
CLG: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has published a new guide that gives hands on practical advice & insights on how to restore local shops into vibrant business areas that are full of local character and sit at the heart of neighbourhood communities. 

This builds on the high street review by Mary Portas and the announcement of 12 'Portas Pilots' – See ‘Policy Statements & Initiatives’ section for more information

Annual Reports

TUC: The situation faced by trade unionists across the world grew steadily worse in 2011, according to the annual survey of trade union rights violations published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). 

This year's survey, which examines 143 countries, found that 76 trade unionists murdered in 2011, with thousands more dismissed & arrested. The Americas is still the most deadly region for trade unionists, while Arab Spring workers paid dearly as they marched towards democracy.
 
BIS: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and Imperial College have published new estimates of investment in the UK's copyright industries. When adopted in the National Accounts this adds more than £3bn to the economy.
 
FSA: The Agency has produced a summary of its research published in May 2012. This includes a project that has helped detect the transfer of chemicals from packaging to food and two projects evaluating food hygiene schemes in the UK.
 
EA: In its latest Water Resources and Drought Prospects report, the Environment Agency found that river levels & reservoir stocks have significantly improved, easing the pressure on the environment & water supplies.  Further water restrictions for the public, farmers & businesses are now increasingly unlikely.

But with groundwater levels still low in some areas and unlikely to improve before winter, the Environment Agency & water companies are putting plans in place to protect water supplies next year if another dry winter further reduces these underground stocks.

General Reports and Other Publications

CO: A report on access to professional careers, published last week by Rt. Hon Alan Milburn, the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty, argues that:
* the golden opportunity for a social mobility dividend – as a result of professional job growth – is at risk of being squandered
* there is social engineering at the top of the professions and little evidence of change in social intakes at the bottom
* too little is being done and it is time to dramatically increase efforts
 
AS: In a recent report, ‘The Wages of Sin Taxes’, the Adam Smith Institute condemns the government’s decision to increase taxes on cigarettes and alcohol this year and to introduce minimum alcohol pricing. The report argues that ‘sin taxes’ (taxes on commodities seen as harmful to health) are ineffective in reducing consumption and are not necessary for recouping lost revenue.  The taxes are highly regressive and force the poor to pay for the government’s mishandling of public finances.
 
CBI: The IPPR briefing, The Long View, contributed to by the CBI, stresses the importance of addressing long-term public services reform challenges now. The reports acknowledges the significant current pressure on public spending budgets as a result of the necessary drive to reduce the deficit, but also highlights future pressures, such as the ageing population and potentially lower tax revenues, that are coming down line.
 
The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that on current trends, by 2030, public spending will outstrip revenues, mainly due to health and age-related spending. That is why, the briefing argues, we must have an open debate now about how we respond to these significant pressures, otherwise the UK’s public services will come under an unsustainable squeeze in the coming years.
 
IfG: The government is "not just a bunch of accountants trying to turn around the British economy as if it were a failing company”, the Prime Minister said earlier this month. However, a new report from the Institute for Government, ‘Improving decision making in Whitehall – effective use of management information’, shows better use of accountancy principles at the top of Whitehall would be a good thing.

The report looks at 6 case studies which demonstrated that Whitehall is perfectly capable of using complex information, but that a lack of demand for it in Whitehall, was holding back progress.  Unlike businesses that use MI systematically to drive decision-making, Whitehall uses MI sporadically.  There is still too much of a focus on new policy initiatives rather than driving value for money through the £700bn government spend.
 
Demos: A new report from the think tank Demos recommends housing providers take more radical preventative steps to support social housing tenants – a group highly vulnerable to the economic downturn and cuts to benefits & services.
 
Demos argues that whilst social housing has always been active in providing low level care & support, this has been focused on those with existing needs, rather than those vulnerable to the negative effects of the current economic climate.  By acting to reduce these risks, savings to housing and other public services of up to £49,000 could be made per tenant. 
 
ESRC: Many boys say they would prefer a male ‘befriender’ according to early findings, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  Yet, less than a quarter of UK volunteer child befrienders are men
 
Researchers suggest that girls, particularly those from lone mother families, could also benefit from a male befriender.  At present, however, the shortage of volunteer male befrienders coupled with concerns voiced by some regarding the appropriateness of such a relationship means girls are rarely matched with men. 
 
BIS: The latest Armed Forces Longitudinal Study report shows that the Royal Navy (RN), Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) have put numeracy & literacy skills at the heart of their development programme for new recruits.  Recruits who join the Armed Forces needing to improve their literacy & numeracy skills are signed up for intensive training programmes which (the report shows) improve their long term career prospects.
 
 The Armed Forces demonstrate how a large employer can play a vital socio-economic role by making their personnel more employable within Service and in subsequent civilian life. Sound speaking & listening skills were regarded as most important and essential for an individual’s operational effectiveness at all ranks.
Press release & links
 
SocitmThe sharing of services, including ICT and other functions, is becoming a necessity for local public services and under current financial pressures, is likely to grow rather than fade away.  This is the key message of Shared services time for a re-think?, a Socitm Insight briefing available now for subscribers to download from this website.

Legislation / Legal

LC: The Welsh Government has announced a dedicated Bill on tenancy reform, based on the Law Commission's 2006 report, Renting Homes. The announcement, in the White Paper, Homes for Wales, makes a commitment to a Bill in this Assembly.
 
ScotGov: Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham, has announced she is amending fire safety regulations to clarify the law for childminders

Following a public consultation on the definition of ‘relevant premises’ contained in the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, it was clear businesses within the childminding sector preferred that it was made clearer that their premises needed to comply with the fire safety aspects of the Act. 

Ms Cunningham will now amend the regulations in the Act to confirm that fire safety obligations apply to childminders’ premises.
 
CLG: New measures have been put in place to help protect people from cowboy buildersTradesmen who operate under self check schemes, which allow them to check their own work, will be required to meet higher standards and prove they meet the right levels of quality, giving householders the peace of mind that work on their homes is up to scratch.
 
The measures will also ensure that householders have a financial safety net in place such as a guarantee or insurance, to catch them if self-check installers fail to finish work properly or if they can't be chased through the courts.
 
DCMS: A White Paper will be published in early 2013 with a Communications Bill introduced by the final session of this Parliament to ensure the UK continues to have a world-beating communications sector that delivers innovative & high-quality content along with safe & efficient services.

Over the coming months 5 seminars will inform the communications review (see press release for details & dates).  The policy papers & seminars will replace a planned green paper.
 
Several other strands of work to help the UK’s creative & digital sectors are on-going. The Government is working to implement the recommendations from the Hargreaves Review of the UK’s intellectual property framework and work on content regulation will resume following the recommendations of The Leveson Inquiry on the future of press regulation. 

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: Recently, the European Commission closed an infringement case against Spain on the Timeshare Directive (Directive 2008/122/EC) after the country notified the Commission of a new law (Decreto-ley) transposing the rules.  The Commission also closed a case against the UK following its recent transposition of the Directive for Gibraltar.  As the Commission also closed cases against Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia on 22 March, this means that all Member States have now transposed the Directive into their national law.
 
The new Timeshare Directive, which replaces an older Directive from 1994 (Directive 1994/47/EC), was due to be transposed across the EU by February 2011. The new rules provide significant protection for consumers against unwanted timeshare contracts and contracts on similar holiday products, which often bear considerable financial risks for consumers.
 
EU News: All EU Member States have integrated 'citizenship education' into their primary & secondary school curricula - albeit with different approaches, according to a report published recently by the European Commission.

 Improving knowledge & skills for teaching the subject remains a challenge, however, with only two countries (UK - England and Slovakia) offering training for prospective specialist teachers in initial teacher education programmes.  The report indicates a general consensus that citizenship education should aim to develop critical thinking, analytical skills and attitudes to foster active participation in school and society.
 
RoSPA: Measures to prevent accidental injuries to children & young people in England, Scotland & Wales will be assessed later this month when Child Safety Report Cards are issued across Europe. On Tuesday, 12 June 2012, the European Child Safety Alliance (ECSA) will publish report cards for more than 30 European countries at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
 
The report cards, and accompanying country profiles, will assess safety measures that relate to children & young people by examining the adoption, implementation and enforcement of national policies that address accidental injury.  A summary will provide a multi-country overview to facilitate European-level planning to support national efforts, including a section on inequalities and child safety.
 
WWF: Responding to a report on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, WWF said that the report did not address the long-term sustainability of farming & the environment in Britain.

WWF also argued that, without the introduction of Ecological Focus Areas, Europe risks losing many of the flora & fauna that are necessary for the countryside to thrive.  WWF said that, with €53bn, or 41%, of the total EU budget being paid into the CAP such an expensive policy must deliver value for money.
 
EU News: Laszlo Andor, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, has welcomed the OECD study "The jobs potential of a shift towards a low carbon economy", published last week.
 
EU News: The European Commission has proposed new rules to enable cross-border & secure electronic transactions in Europe. The proposed Regulation will ensure people & businesses can use their own national electronic identification schemes (e-IDs) to access public services in other EU countries where e-IDs are available.

It also creates an internal market for e-Signatures and related online trust services across borders, by ensuring these services will work across borders and have the same legal status as traditional paper based processes.
 
EU News: The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has called on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to increase the transparency of its procedures for ensuring that children can benefit from new medicines. This follows a complaint from 2 pharmaceutical companies which were required by EMA to test the suitability for children of their heart failure medicine.
 
They alleged unfair treatment because other pharmaceutical companies had been exempted from the obligation to test similar products. The Ombudsman concluded that EMA did not properly disclose its assessments in these cases.  He called on the Agency to make its procedures more transparent in the future.
 
EU News: In a report released last week, the EU identifies a staggering increase in protectionism around the world with 123 new trade restrictions introduced over the last 8 months – a rise of just over 25%. 

In its ninth report on potentially trade-restrictive measures, the European Commission points to a failure by the G20 countries to reducing trade barriers.  G20 members have to do more to prevent the introduction of new barriers to trade, and to rectify protective measures introduced since the break-out of the crisis.
 
EU News: The Commission believes there has to be a clear longer term perspective on the future of the EU's Economic and Monetary Union to give a sense of direction to the reforms & decisions necessary for the EU and its Member States to tackle their current challenges. 

The concept of a banking union was put forward by President Barroso at the last informal European Council, which took place on 23 May.  It will be discussed in the coming weeks by EU leaders.
 
EU News: In a Communication adopted last week, the Commission is calling for a more coordinated European approach in the establishment & reform of support for renewable energy schemes and an increased use of renewable energy trading among Member States.  Moreover, the fact that investors need regulatory certainty makes crucial to start discussing the future and building a solid framework beyond 2020.
 
EU News: The European Union has officially launched (in Vienna) the multilateral diplomatic process to discuss & negotiate its initiative for an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.  

The proposed Code would be applicable to all outer space activities conducted by States or nongovernmental entities, and would lay down the basic rules to be observed by space faring nations in both civil & defence space activities.  This initiative is already supported by a number of spacefaring nations, among them the US, Japan and India.
 
EU News: New crisis management measures to avoid future bank bail-outs.  
 
EU NewsInternet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was formally launched worldwide last week, coexisting alongside Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4).  Deploying IPv6 is a key action under the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
 
The final IPv4 addresses allocated to Europe (out of a total of 4.3bn globally) will be handed out this month.  Therefore updating the protocol is essential to ensure there are enough internet addresses for all the computers, mobiles and other devices people need to connect to Internet, and to ensure higher levels of security.  IPv6 makes available a practically unlimited number of addresses (340 trillions of trillions of trillions).
 
FSA: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published an opinion on mineral oils in food.  Mineral oils can occur in food both as a result of contamination and from some applications in food production.  

Although EFSA has identified potential concern from mineral oils in food, it acknowledges considerable uncertainties in assessing any potential risks.  As in the Food Standards Agency’s recent survey, this opinion does not identify any specific food safety concerns.
 
EU News: Member States must work harder if they are to meet the Europe 2020 education targets to reduce early school leaving rates to less than 10% and increase the share of young people with degree-level qualifications to at least 40%, according to figures for 2011 released by Eurostat.
 
EU News: Last week, the European Commission's proposal to simplify the settlement of international successions received the final backing of the Council of Justice Ministers of the EU.  

The EC proposals will ease the legal burden when a family member with property in another EU country passes away. Once published in the EU's Official Journal – which is expected to take place within weeks – Member States will have 3 years to align their national laws so that the new EU rules on succession become effective.
 
EU News: Last week saw the launch of a new Transparency web portal, which acts as a window on the wide range of instruments developed over recent years to make public scrutiny easier, and improve citizens' ability to exercise their rights.
 
EU News"You have the right to… - a Letter of Rights".  A new law to ensure defendants' right to information during criminal proceedings throughout the European Union has been published in the Official Journal – the EU's statute book.
 
The 'Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings' ensures that anyone arrested or subject to a European Arrest Warrant in any EU Member State is given a Letter of Rights listing their basic rights during criminal proceedings.  EU Member States now have 2 years to introduce the new rules in their national legal systems.  Currently the right to a Letter of Rights is only available in around one third of Member States.
 
EU News: The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) last week took note of the final report of the Ad Hoc Group on Nuclear Security (AHGNS) (10616/12). The disaster at the Fukushima power plant in Japan in March 2011 put the issue of nuclear safety & security at the top of the EU's agenda and triggered a series of meetings & events.
 
The European Council on 24-25 March (10/1/11, paragraph 31) concluded that the safety of all EU nuclear plants should be reviewed, on the basis of comprehensive and transparent risk & safety assessments.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

ScotGov: Leading youth charity The Prince’s Trust will receive £750,000 of European Structural Funds (ESF) to help even more young people into the jobs market

The Prince’s Trust will use the funding to extend their core programmes to help disadvantaged 16-25-year-olds build their confidence and increase their motivation to get their lives working again.
 
NE: Many environmental organisations depend on the support of committed & enthusiastic volunteers and, coinciding with Volunteers’ Week, new research published by Natural England has revealed the true value of their help. 
 
Using guidance and a measuring formula developed over the last 16 years by the Institute of Volunteering Research, a Volunteer Investment and Value Audit for 2011 discovered that 3,000 NE volunteers provided over 29,300 working days, which has a market value of over £3.5m. 

Further analysis showed that for every £1 spent on supporting volunteers – through training, providing equipment & transport - a value of £8.48 is returned. 
 
CO: Last week the Cabinet Office and Department of Health committed to help fund & assist more doctors, nurses and other public sector workers to run services that are tailored to their local community. 

The DH was the first department to give staff new rights to form Social Enterprises, or mutuals.  Now the team from DH will bring their expertise on supporting the development of these organisations as they join the CO mutuals team to help roll out similar rights across all government departments.
 
Alongside this work, the DH is also announcing a further investment of £19m over the next year for Social Enterprises, on top of the £100m already invested by them over the last 5 years. The money will be used to support frontline staff to run services that provide what their local population really need.
 
BIG: Two projects across Scotland are to share over £1m to support vulnerable young people across Scotland and also provide work & training opportunities in Moffat, thanks to the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).

Business and Other Briefings

BISMeasures to make the international system of patent application faster & more effective were announced last week by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) with changes to the UK’s Fast Track system. These moves come as part of a wider effort by the UK and US intellectual property authorities to get more businesses to use the PCT system.
 
This clarifies the Landfill Tax treatment of material used on a landfill site and the classification of waste published in Revenue & Customs Brief 15/12.
 
HMRCPeople trading on the internet who haven’t paid all the tax they owe have 1 week left to take part in an opportunity offered by HM Revenue & Customs to get their tax affairs in order on the best terms available – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Industry News

BIS: A new multi-deck trade vehicle terminal at the Port of Southampton, which will be able to meet extra demand for exporting British-built cars overseas, has been unveiled by the Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The fourth terminal comes as part of a major investment by Associated British Ports (ABP) in the expansion of its vehicle export facilities to accommodate the large amount of vehicles being shipped to overseas markets, particularly China.
 
The visit & announcement coincides with other investment by the Department’s flagship policy - the Regional Growth Fund.  Southampton City Council received a conditional offer of £5.6m as part of the second round to support the development of the city’s surrounding road infrastructure.
 
DECC: Prime Minister David Cameron and the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg last week agreed a landmark energy partnership between the UK & Norway designed to secure affordable & sustainable long term energy supplies.
 
The Norway-UK Energy Partnership for Sustainable Growth heralds closer collaboration between the two countries across a wide range of energy activities, including safe & environmentally sensitive oil & gas extraction, long term gas supply, renewable energy investment, electricity interconnection and international climate change policy development.

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