In the News
DH: Paying for your own care is one thing, but subsidising non-payers is just not fair - The ‘most radical reform of the social care system in 64 years’ has been announced. The draft Care & Support Bill consolidates a mess of different laws to create a single modern statute for adult care & support.
The Care & Support White Paper, together with the draft Care & Support Bill set out ‘how the social care system will be transformed from a service that reacts to crises to one that focuses on prevention and is built around the needs and goals of people’.
The report, prepared by the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change, finds that in spite of the worsening effects of floods:
* Development in the flood plain increased by 12% over the past 10 years
* Funding for flood defences from both public & private sources is decreasing
* Take-up of measures to protect individual properties from flooding is 20 – 35 times lower than the rate required to safeguard all properties that could benefit.
* The proportion of gardens that have been paved over increased from just over 25% of total garden area in 2001 to nearly half in 2011.
The report advises that increasing investment and ensuring more careful planning of new housing in the floodplain can reduce the risk of flooding by almost 4 times what it would have been in 2035 without action
The report also indicates that water scarcity is likely to become more common in some parts of the country in the future due to the combined effects of climate change & population growth. This is likely to be exacerbated by levels of household water consumption that are among the highest in north-west Europe.
CAB: Reform may be necessary but many may ‘fall through the cracks’ - Tens of thousands of disabled adults & children will be much worse off as a result of welfare reform changes due to come into force next year, a new report warned last week. Baroness Grey-Thompson has launched an inquiry into support available for disabled people under Universal Credit in order to find out more about how disabled people will be affected by the changes.
She will be taking evidence in person from families who understand from their own personal experience of living with a disability the likely practical impact of the changes. She is also urging all disabled people, parents of disabled children, and carers to complete the online questionnaire. The inquiry findings & recommendations are expected to be published in October 2012.
WWF said that the need for action on the food system was undeniable. The group said that the Government’s own Foresight report gave a compelling account of the urgent need to redesign the food system, and pointed out that the current system is not only a major cause of the destruction of our natural world but is also causing health problems like obesity & heart disease, costing the NHS £bns.
WWF also said that simply trying to ramp up food production was a ‘fool’s errand’, arguing that ‘the question was not how much food the UK should produce – it is not the UK’s role to feed the world - but how we address the underlying problems of our food system such as waste, access and diets’.
JRF: It rather reinforces the government’s attempts to limit benefits to around £26k (net) - Working families with children are being dealt a damaging triple financial blow in the recession, according to a new report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
Since 2008, JRF's Minimum Income Standard for the UK (MIS) has tracked what members of the public think people need to have a socially acceptable standard of living, and how much money this means different households (working age people with & without children and pensioners) need to reach this standard.
Soaring childcare & transport costs have combined with cuts to tax credits to hit families hardest. The minimum that a couple with two children now needs to earn for an acceptable standard of living is £36,800 (gross) – this figure has risen by nearly a third since 2008, twice the rate of inflation.
DH: Still some way to go to achieve £20bn! - The NHS has saved £1.5bn since last year by cutting the number of managers, and reducing expenditure on wasteful IT projects. Spending on frontline NHS services has increased by £3.4bn (or 3.5%) in cash terms compared to last year.
Primary Care Trusts & Strategic Health Authorities have reported a surplus of £1.6bn, which will be carried forward & made available in 2012/13 (This represents a 3% increase in funding available to the NHS relative to last year.
IPCC: The public must believe that individual policemen are not ‘above the law’ - The Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has called for additional powers & resources to further strengthen the agency’s work, as its annual report for 2011/12 was laid in Parliament. The report details a year in which a number of highly significant IPCC investigations of considerable public interest were launched.
Limitations highlighted in the report include the IPCC not being able to require information from third parties, not being able to investigate private contractors working in policing and not being able to compel police officers & staff to attend interviews in cases of death or serious injury.
Civitas: Doing the Time cuts the Crime - Tough prison sentences contribute to reducing property crime, according to a new Civitas report. It shows that prison is effective at reducing crime. The report, Acquisitive Crime, shows that for some crime types, longer custodial sentences lead to consistent reductions in crime especially when targeted at serious & repeat offenders.
EU News: National & EC civil servants fight over who should cut the resources cake & how - The question as to why EU Member State officials proposed deep cuts in the growth & jobs headings of the EU's 2013 budget last week, even though their Heads of State & Government had called on 29 June 2012 for more EU funding for growth & jobs, was not settled by Monday's 3-way meeting of the Council's Cypriot Presidency, the European Commission and MEPs.
ICO: Just how clean is your local environment? - The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently published a new plain English Guide to the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) to help public authorities better understand how to apply them - See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ for more information.
Case Study: Two Councils—Miles Apart—Provide Shared Services from the Same Platform - North Yorkshire County Council and Craven District Council have recently partnered to share a platform and to handle services for one another, despite geographical distance between contact centres, different CRM systems and distinct types of service.
Creating a partnership in which services were joined was not a straightforward matter. For one thing the district and county council contact centres are more than 50 miles apart and each had its own CRM system with separate providers.
Results to date include:
A single, shared CRM system facilitates joint services and lowers support overhead
Both councils now have additional staff capacity without extra cost to assist at busy times
Secure and compliant access to each council’s systems
Streamlined and more personal customer service
ROI achieved within 18 months.
The approach taken by NYCC and Craven DC is a blueprint for how other councils can move forward. As the agenda is advanced beyond Craven within North Yorkshire County, the platform can be utilised to build out additional district councils’ CRM systems and services, and to facilitate sharing across multiple user groups.
Click here to download the full Case Study.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
WWF: South Korea has announced plans to kill endangered whales under a loophole in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) treaty that allows for so-called ‘scientific whaling’. The proposal was met with fierce opposition from numerous IWC member governments that called the hunt unnecessary given the availability of modern non-lethal research techniques.
Many governments countered South Korea’s claims that ‘lethal whaling is needed to determine how to manage stocks’. Australia went so far as to invite South Korean scientists for a visit to discuss how non-lethal techniques can help fill data gaps.
STFC: Meteosat Second Generation 3 (MSG 3), which has on board, the 200th RAL Space instrument to be launched, was successfully sent on its way recently from Korou in French Guiana. The MSG 3 will help weather forecasters predict thunderstorms & fog - providing data for use by meteorologists & climate scientists worldwide.
VSO: As South Sudan celebrated its first year of independence on 9 July 2012 and looked ahead to its future, VSO called for women’s rights & services for women to be prioritised. VSO volunteers, many from the UK, are supporting grassroots women’s groups who work with survivors of violence, war widows, young girls and displaced South Sudanese returnees.
EH: This summer, visitors will be able to explore Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s private beach at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight for the first time. On Friday 27 July 2012, the beach will be opening to the public and visitors will be able to lounge in deckchairs, enjoying the same vistas that the royal couple so admired – the view was said to remind Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples.
TfL: London Underground's (LU) Farringdon station is now the 66th Tube station to become step-free from street to platform level.
CEOP: 4 new organisations have joined the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), committing to the ongoing fight against technology facilitated crimes against children. Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, World Vision Australia, Research in Motion and The Code last month joined the VGT as private sector partners.
DfT: Driving tests could soon be available from branches of Halfords. As well as using traditional driving test centres, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is looking at working with public & private sector partners to provide driving test premises in selected areas that don’t already have a local test centre.
The DSA began exploring a new approach to test delivery last year, offering tests from premises such as local authority buildings & leisure centres. In March 2012 the Agency announced plans to extend the scheme to 21 more locations, and invited proposals from businesses & other organisations. Partners will allow the use of their premises at no cost to DSA and tests will continue to be conducted by DSA examiners.
EH: English Heritage has announced that work to realise the long-held vision to ‘return Stonehenge to a more tranquil setting & improve its visitor facilities’ has officially started. Successful fundraising also means that virtually all of the total project cost has now been secured with only £500,000 left to raise.
DCMS: Hundreds of thousands of homes will receive help to prevent 4G services interfering with television signals. Most TV viewers will be able to solve any problems by fitting a filter, which will be provided free-of-charge by the assistance scheme.
But for some homes, an engineer will need to fit the filter to a rooftop aerial. Mr Vaizey recently confirmed that vouchers will be provided to eligible households to pay for the installation. In a very limited number of cases where filters cannot improve the TV service, assistance would be provided to switch to free-to-view satellite or to cable TV. Extra support will also be offered to vulnerable consumers.
FSA: Sainsbury's is recalling its own-brand Taste the Difference Pumpkin Quadrotti pasta, with a 'use by' date of 17 July 2012, because of a packaging error. The pasta is filled with prawns instead of pumpkin, which isn't listed in the allergy information box. If you're allergic to or intolerant of shellfish, don't eat this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: Moet Hennessy UK Ltd (Maison Krug) is withdrawing certain batches of its Krug Champagne. T he products contain sulphites, which aren’t mentioned on the label. If you’re allergic to or intolerant of sulphites, don’t drink these products. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
MoD: The Defence Secretary has unveiled the first of a new fleet of Wildcat helicopters, and confirmed a £250m contract to support them.
HO: Last week a plaque was dedicated to the memory of Holocaust hero Frank Foley at the historic Hoop Lane Cemetery in North West London. He was a British diplomat who worked in the British embassy in Berlin in the 1930s. He did not have diplomatic immunity and was liable to arrest, but he still went into concentration camps to get Jews out, hid them in his home and helped them get forged passports. It is estimated that Foley saved the lives of 10,000 people. He died in 1958, aged 73.
MoD: An Army-led outreach course, using military training, is boosting young people's skills and steering them away from trouble. The Youth Advantage Outreach (YAO) courses are aimed at young people in the 14-18 years age group who are minor offenders or on the periphery of offending.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DfE: The PM recently announced plans to reduce radically the time it takes for a baby to move in with their permanent family. The Government will take action to put children’s interests first and legislate to make fostering by potential adopters standard practice in many cases, so that those in care are placed with carers who have the potential to become their adoptive parents, rather than in temporary homes.
The Government will introduce a new legal duty on local authorities to consider placing children with approved adopters who will foster the child first, and help provide a stable home much earlier in their life. This will remove groundless doubts about whether ‘Fostering for Adoption’ is legal & good practice.
DH: A new recognition scheme for all NHS staff has been launched as ministers mark the 64th anniversary of the NHS. Both patients & staff are being asked to nominate their NHS hero by filling in a simple online form. Up until mid-September, anyone working for the NHS who is nominated by members of the public, patients or colleagues as going the extra mile in their work will receive a recognition certificate.
HO: A £2.6m fund designed to help disabled people overcome barriers to becoming councillors, police & crime commissioners or MPs has been launched by the Government. The money will help meet the additional costs a disabled candidate may face in standing for election, such as extra transport or sign-language interpreters.
CLG: Plans for the nation's first ever dedicated large-scale self building community were given the green light recently by Housing Minister Grant Shapps, who announced a wide package for aspiring self-builders, offering exclusive access to £30m funding and Government-owned land to help them turn their housebuilding dreams into a reality.
DfE: Children from poorer backgrounds who are behind in reading & writing at the end of primary school will have the chance to get extra catch-up lessons. Results from last year’s Key Stage 2 tests show that around 100,000 pupils in England failed to reach the expected standard in English.
CLG: Fire & Rescue Minister Bob Neill has published the new Fire & Rescue National Framework for England. The Framework enables F&R authorities to efficiently deliver their services against a backdrop of change and the need to cut the national deficit.
WAG: A formal partnership agreement between the Welsh Government and the Crown Estate has been described by Environment Minister, John Griffiths as key to moving Wales towards a low carbon future.
Ofsted: Radical proposals for a new approach to the inspection of child protection services were published last week. Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and where necessary Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate will work together from 2013 to carry out no-notice inspections of multi-agency arrangements for the protection of children.
BIS: A new £50m fund to ‘support mature students with learning difficulties or disabilities, parents who need help with childcare and ex-military personnel’ has been announced. The bursary scheme will support mature students to get the skills & qualifications they need in further education, by helping to meet costs such as childcare, travel, books & equipment. The fund is one element of a package of support for people who take out 24+ Advanced Learning Loans from 2013.
CO: As part of the drive to ensure Whitehall operates in a more business-like fashion, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has recently announced that Bill Crothers will be appointed as the Government’s Chief Procurement Officer with a broadened remit covering a range of commercial as well as procurement responsibilities.
ScotGov: A £10m loan fund designed to kick-start stalled housing projects has awarded funding to 3 projects. The Housebuilding Infrastructure Loans Fund offers help to housing builders, unable to attract private-sector finance, to invest in the infrastructure needed for projects to go ahead.
HMT: The Bank of England and HM Treasury have announced the launch of the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which is designed to boost lending to the real economy. Banks & building societies that increase lending to UK households & businesses will be able to borrow more in the FLS, and do so at lower cost than those that scale back lending.
WAG: The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones has set out his vision of a ‘new’ United Kingdom when he addressed an audience in Westminster recently. He rejected independence for Wales by setting out his vision of a UK which is politically diverse, looser, and combines several centres of democratic accountability.
He also said the relationship between the devolved nations and the UK Government needs to be reset and called for the creation of a Constitutional Convention to agree a new constitutional settlement.
Defra: More than 2,000 miles of historic canals & rivers across England & Wales have been handed over to the Canal & River Trust recently in a move to get communities more involved in their local waterways.
The new trust takes over from British Waterways and The Waterways Trust in England & Wales and represents a completely new approach to caring for the country’s waterways. The move, part of the Public Bodies Reform programme, is the largest single transfer of a public body into the charitable sector.
To mark its launch, the Trust has unveiled its first appeal, 50 projects across the nation that will breathe new life into towpaths & riverbanks. By pledging money or time people can get involved in projects such as creating new habitat for rare water voles, planting linear orchards for people and wildlife and restoring neglected towpaths.
CLG: A new local audit regime that delivers value for money, greater responsibility for local bodies and the same tough audit standards was set out in draft legislation for consultation recently (closes on 31 August 2012). This is the next step in a series of reforms already underway to replace the Audit Commission with a new local audit framework.
The Government's decision to close the AC and ask it to outsource all of its work to the private sector has already reduced audit fees by 40%. These reforms are set to save the public purse £650m over the next 5 years.
Press release & links ~ Draft Local Audit Bill consultation
DfT: The Department for Transport is consulting (closes on 2 October 2012) on how to bring the process for assessing eligibility for blue disabled parking badges in to line with the wider reform of disability benefits announced by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Press release & links
HMT: The Government has published a consultation (closes on 1 October 2012) aimed at giving oil & gas companies more certainty over the level of tax relief on the costs of decommissioning used assets in the North Sea.
It proposes the creation of Decommissioning Relief Deeds, which specify the levels of relief that companies will receive. Companies will also receive new certainty on the level of relief they will receive when liable for the decommissioning costs of another party which has defaulted.
Press release & links
Defra: Plans to reform the water industry were published in Parliament last week. Under the proposals, which have been published for pre-legislative scrutiny, all businesses & public sector bodies in will be able to switch their water & sewerage suppliers, allowing them to obtain more competitive prices, improve their efficiency and tender for services better suited to meet their individual needs.
The legislation will also make it easier for bulk water trading within the industry, allowing water companies to work more closely to find long term solutions to water security issues. Although they are not formally consulting on the proposals within the draft Water Bill, if you wish to make any comments these should be forwarded by email.
Press release & links
DfT: More frequent flights to emerging markets, improved access to airports - including £500m towards a new rail link to Heathrow - and a reduction in the impact of airports on local communities is to be put at the heart of
The draft policy framework (consultation closes 31 October 2012), which will form the basis of future sustainable aviation growth in the
, has been developed following discussions with the industry. The framework also includes a package of measures which will ‘quickly deliver operational improvements and boost economic growth within existing airport capacity constraints’.
Press release & links ~ WWF comment
DfT: Updated speed limit guidance to help local authorities improve safety on their roads has been published for consultation (closes on 5 October 2012). The guidance provides up-to-date advice to aid greater consistency of speed limits on local roads across
It incorporates recent changes that have increased flexibility for local authorities to implement 20mph limits and zones where it can be shown that they benefit road safety and quality of life. It also gives authorities more information about the new speed limit appraisal web tool which will help authorities fully assess the impact of any change to a speed limit in their area.
Press release & links
BIS: New proposals on options forming part of a proposed Consumer Bill of Rights have been announced. The consultation (closes on 5 October 2012) seeks views on rights & remedies for goods & services and digital content supplied under a contract.
The Bill of Rights will set out in one place a clear code of shopping rights and simple standardised remedies for when things go wrong. Businesses will benefit from the simplified set of rules, which are intended to clear up customer issues more quickly.
Press release & links
FRC: The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), the Autorité des Normes Comptables (ANC) in France, and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in the UK
have published a Discussion Paper, ‘Towards a Disclosure Framework for the Notes’. The Discussion Paper is the result of a joint project between EFRAG, the ANC and the FRC, as part of EFRAG’s proactive agenda.
A major concern around the world is that the notes to the financial statements have become a real burden and it is not clear that they serve their intended purpose which is to help users understand the numbers in the financial statements. The Discussion Paper is open for comment until 31 December 2012.
Press release & links
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HO: A new pocket guide to the UK law on female genital mutilation will soon be made available to girls at risk to help them speak out against the practice. The leaflet (A Declaration Against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for Families and Girls) is designed to slip in the back of a passport allowing girls to present it as a formal document to friends or family reminding them that FGM is against the law in the UK.
It will also set out what the penalties are for offenders, including a maximum 14 year custodial sentence, as well as advice on help & support.
NE: A new industry-backed leaflet on funding & support for lowland beef & sheep farmers was launched recently at the National Sheep Show. It provides clear & helpful information on how environmental management through Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) and Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) can complement farming practices and provide business benefits.
The leaflet provides, all in one place, an overview of information & new scheme developments relevant to lowland beef & sheep farming. It covers all the key sources of grant aid, incentive schemes, and advice to improve both the economic productivity and environmental sustainability of this specific sector.
This is the first in a series piloting a new approach to providing farmers with information about changes to RDPE funded socio-economic & agri-environment schemes. If it’s successful, similar leaflets will be produced for other farming sectors in consultation with the industry.
NICE: A report published recently by the All Parliamentary Group on Dementia has found a ‘shocking’ variation in the number of people with dementia who are diagnosed. In England, just 41% of people receive a diagnosis, and in parts of Wales diagnostic rates are as low as 32%.
Quoting evidence from GPs and specialists, the report says that some people are having to wait more than a year to get assessed in a memory clinic. The NICE pathway on dementia says that memory assessment services, provided by a memory assessment clinic or community health teams, should be the single point of referral for people with dementia.
A range of implementation tools are available to support NICE's recommendations on dementia, including a guide for commissioners on memory assessment services.
TNA: The National Archives is inviting archive services in England to participate in the piloting of the new draft Archive Service Accreditation Standard. The draft standard will be piloted in a range of archives in each of the home nations, from September to December 2012.
CIPD: The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) has launched a FREE stress management tool, developed with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), designed to help equip managers with the skills to manage positively and prevent stress in their staff. CIPD research identified stress as the number 1 cause of long-term sickness absence & poor management is one of the top causes of work-related stress.
The tool, available on the CIPD/AXA PPP Employee health and wellbeing website, is designed to hold up a mirror to managers so they understand how their behaviour impacts on the people they manage – and provides on-line learning materials to help them improve their management style.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently published a new plain English Guide to the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) to help public authorities better understand how to apply them.
The EIR provide the public with a right of access to environmental information held by public authorities, which would not be considered for disclosure under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
The types of information people can request includes information relating to land development, air quality, energy production & waste management. While public authorities have 20 working days to respond to EIR & FOI requests, there are some important differences between the 2 regimes, including that EIR also prevents statutory bars from applying, meaning that requests cannot be refused due to the prohibitions on disclosure within other legislation.
CCC: The Committee on Climate Change has published its Annual Report & Accounts for 20011-12.
HPA: The number of confirmed cases of pertussis (Whooping cough) in England & Wales reported to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) continues to rise, with 1,781 cases reported to the end of May 2012, compared to a total of 1,118 cases across the whole of 2011.
Monitor: Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts, has recently published its review of NHS Foundation Trust (FT) performance for the fourth quarter 2011/2012.
IPCC: The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)’s annual report into deaths during or following police contact has been released.
HSE: Almost half of the refurbishment construction projects in & around Stamford Hill in North East London have failed health & safety spot checks.
DH: Retailers find the Healthy Start scheme easy to administer & beneficial to their customers, according to research published recently.
CH: In a comprehensive survey of attitudes towards the UK's role in the world, Chatham House and YouGov found that just 6% of the public think the coalition has improved UK foreign policy, with 32% thinking it has worsened since the coalition government came to power.
PC&PE: The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy has published a report highlighting concerns about the Government response to its March 2012 report, First review of the National Security Strategy 2010.
WAG: Business Minister Edwina Hart has welcomed the City Regions report by a group of experts that considered the evidence for city regions as economic drivers & identified potential city regions in Wales.
It contains 22 key recommendations that include city regions are recognised in South East Wales & Swansea Bay and that the existing Mersey Dee Alliance is strengthened in North East Wales.
NAO: Amyas Morse, the Comptroller & Auditor General, has qualified the accounts of the Community Legal Service Fund and the Criminal Defence Service because of errors in payments to legal aid providers.
ScotGov: The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), tasked with improving value for money from Scotland’s public-sector infrastructure, has published its annual benefits statement. Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure & Capital Investment, Alex Neil, has welcomed news that the SFT saved the Scottish public sector £131m during 2011/12.
EH: English Heritage's Annual Report and Accounts were laid before Parliament last week.
ONS: Total household wealth in Great Britain was £10.3 trillion in 2008/10, according to the latest Wealth in Great Britain chapters, released recently by the Office for National Statistics.
This is a rise of 12.9% or £1.2 trillion since 2006/08 when it was £9.1 trillion. However, the report also highlights widening disparities between the households at the top & bottom of the wealth distribution.
ONS: Visits to the UK from overseas show a trend of growth over the short-term & longer-term, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, visits abroad by UK residents are down 1% in 2012.
NO: In her first report as the new Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, DBE reveals that a record number of enquiries were received in the last year from people needing help with their complaint.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission published last week 249 individual inspection reports into providers offering termination of pregnancy services. As a result of these unannounced inspections, CQC identified clear evidence of pre-signing of HSA1 forms at 14 locations, all of which were NHS Trusts.
CO: The Intelligence & Security Committee (ISC)’s Annual Report for 2011-2012 was laid before Parliament recently by the Prime Minister. The Government’s formal response to the Committee’s report is expected to be published in the autumn.
General Reports and Other Publications
PC&PE: The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has published a report on private investigators, which concludes that it is getting easier for anyone to advertise themselves as a private investigator - with modern communications & cheap surveillance devices - and while the industry remains unregulated, a number of serious risks remain.
The Committee explores the risks of the involvement of private investigators in the justice system and law enforcement and the threat of corruption those links entail.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report - Efficiency and reform in government corporate functions through shared service centres. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "Government could save significant sums of money if it pooled back office functions such as finance, HR and procurement. ……. However, shared service centres have failed to deliver the savings they should have. They cost £1.4bn to set up, £500m more than expected, and in some cases have actually cost the taxpayer more than they have saved”.
ESRC: Photographs of faces may not be adequate proof of a person's identity and this could have serious implications for the accuracy of passport photographs in determining identity. Research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) shows that an image of a person may look strikingly different from one image to the next.
We are told not to smile in our passport photos as a smile distorts the face; but the opposite may actually be true, and a poker face may be the one which distorts normal facial features.
PC&PE: Independent regulators should take a more prominent role in communicating the risks associated with energy generation & distribution because the Government is not seen as an impartial source of information, according to MPs on the Science and Technology Committee.
Their latest report warns that there is a lack of strategic coordination across Government when it comes to risk communication.
NAO: A report by the National Audit Office on the regulation of defined contribution pensions has concluded that there is insufficient accountability to ensure that the regulatory system delivers value for money.
JRF: Local councils are losing momentum in preparing to protect vulnerable people from the effects of climate change, a new report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) warns. Socially just adaption to climate change claims that local authorities are only just beginning to consider vulnerable communities and involve them in their climate change adaptation plans.
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: Families of missing people will be given greater support when a loved one goes missing with recent announcements that the Government will introduce a certificate of presumed death – through legislation.
This certificate will be equivalent to a death certificate in its legal power and will go a long way in simplifying the processes & problems (especially legal & financial) faced by those left behind.
BIS: Mr Justice Underhill has presented his findings from his review of the employment tribunal rules to the Government. He made a number of recommendations that aim to streamline the process, improve understanding and cut costs.
HO: The Home Office recently outlined to Parliament the purpose of the Communications Data Bill and how it will continue to give police vital powers to help catch criminals, save lives & protect vulnerable children.
DfE: Children’s Minister Sarah Teather has published draft clauses for forthcoming legislation to strengthen the role of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. The proposals were included in the Queen’s Speech in May and a Children and Families Bill is expected to be introduced early in 2013.
Directgov: Wheel clamping without lawful authority will be banned in England & Wales from 1 October 2012, with anyone breaking the law facing criminal charges & a fine. Once the ban comes into force, it will be illegal to clamp, tow away or immobilise a vehicle without lawful authority to do so.
Currently, the law says that individuals or businesses can clamp vehicles if they have a valid vehicle immobiliser licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). This will apply until the ban comes into force.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decided in December 2010 to implement loan-level data reporting requirements for asset-backed securities (ABSs) as part of the Eurosystem’s collateral framework.
Preparatory work has been concluded and the Governing Council also took note of the creation of a European DataWarehouse, the single loan-level data repository that could be used for the handling of loan-level data reporting. In this context, the mandatory provision of loan-by-loan information for ABSs is to be introduced.
EU News: The European Commission has announced the final & biggest ever set of calls for proposals for research under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). In total, €8.1bn will ‘support projects & ideas that will boost Europe's competitiveness and tackle issues such as human health, protecting the environment and finding new solutions to growing challenges linked to urbanisation and managing waste’.
Most of the calls for proposals (invitations to bid for funds) will be published on 10 July, with some further specific calls to follow in the autumn.
EU News: Insider dealing & market manipulation, referred to together as ‘market abuse’, must be clearly defined & punished with the same dissuasive criminal sanctions in all member states, says the civil liberties committee.
EU News: Bank troubles and Eurozone's future shape dominate Draghi discussion
PC&PE: Rushed proposals from the European Commission to regulate financial markets risk damaging both the City of London and the entire EU financial sector. Flawed transparency proposals and the risk of creating unnecessary red tape means the EU needs to stop and take the time to get the proposals right, according to a report published recently by the House of Lords Economic & Financial Affairs EU Sub-Committee.
EU News: EU foreign policy spending after 2013 'must reflect the EU's political ambitions and be resource-efficient, effective and democratically accountable', said foreign affairs committee MEPs recently in votes on geographic & thematic funds for the EU's external action.
EU News: The EU needs a truly strategic concept for its external policy in order to punch its weight on the international stage, foreign affairs committee MEPs said last week. To be effective and consistent, the EU's action in the global arena needs a new, comprehensive approach.
EU News: EU member states must investigate whether there were secret prisons or facilities on their territory where people were held under the CIA secret rendition programme in the early years of this century , say MEPs in a report adopted by the Civil Liberties Committee recently. Lithuania, Poland & Romania in particular are in encouraged to open, or resume, independent investigations.
EU News: Anyone suspected or accused of a criminal offence in the EU should have the right to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible, and before police questioning starts, says the civil liberties committee in amendments to a draft directive adopted last week. This should include people not under arrest, say MEPs, adding that all communication with the lawyer must always be confidential.
EU News: With the holiday season already starting and millions of Europeans intending on travelling within & outside the European Union, there are certain travel considerations that every European should be aware of.
Whether these concern having a health insurance, resolving travel disputes with an operator or travelling with a pet, these tips provide a useful insight into the ways in which the EU is working to help & assist EU travellers.
EU News: Despite commitments by Member States to promote inclusive education, children with special educational needs & disabled adults are still getting a raw deal, according to a report published by the European Commission. Around 45m EU citizens of working age have a disability and 15m children have special educational needs.
EU News: The European Council's move to change the draft law to create an EU patent would "infringe EU law" and make the rules "not effective at all", Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE), who is responsible for the draft legislation, told the Legal Affairs Committee recently. Most MEPs strongly criticised the European Council's move and agreed to resume the discussion in September 2012.
EU News: Misuse of EU funds for criminal purposes puts the EU's objectives of generating jobs & growth and improving living conditions at stake. With public finances under pressure throughout the EU, every euro counts.
The European Commission has therefore proposed new rules to fight fraud against the EU budget by means of criminal law to better safeguard taxpayers' money.
EU News: A permanent system for relocating internationally protected persons within the EU would help to improve asylum policy solidarity among EU member states, says a resolution voted by the Civil Liberties Committee on last week. MEPs also call for more money for asylum policy, joint processing of asylum applications and a stronger role for the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), to promote closer cooperation among EU countries.
The committee calls on the Commission to include an ‘EU distribution key’ for relocating beneficiaries of international protection in its legislative proposal for a permanent intra-EU relocation mechanism. The system would use objective indicators, such as member states' GDP, population, surface area and beneficiaries' best interests & integration prospects.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed measures to modernise collecting societies and put in place incentives to promote their transparency & efficiency.
DECC: Recently the European Commission (EC) Climate Change Committee (CCC) voted to approve the UK’s national auction platform for phase III & aviation auctions under the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). The UK expects auctioning to start in November 2012.
EU News: The EC recently put forward proposals to implement targets that will further considerably reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) by 2020.
EU News: The European Central Bank (ECB) recently published its report on ‘The international role of the euro’, which examines developments in the use of the euro by non-euro area residents during the year 2011.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
RoSPA: A twice-yearly outdoor safety education initiative, which teaches children how to manage risk, has been accredited by the LASER Alliance.
Each year, 2,500 children aged 10 & 11 work alongside professionals in a range of interactive scenarios that focus on topics such as the dangers of playing near sub-stations, how to avoid hazards on or near water, safe behaviour when using public transport and the impact of making hoax emergency calls.
OCUK: What began as one victim of multiple strokes plucking up the courage to try a computer course at a UK online centre has become a group of survivors who understand the challenges each face on a daily basis and the group, which provides invaluable support that to its members, is now the winner of the 'Community Impact' prize at the Technology4Good Awards.
The Stroke Survivors Group meet once a week at the Paignton Library in Torbay, Devon. Their main focus is using the courses on UK online centres' Learn website to progress their computer skills at their own pace, but it certainly doesn't stop there!
With the help of the Stroke Association they've launched their own website and have become trailblazers for stroke victims helping other survivors on the road to recovery.
BIG: A fear of being stigmatised is holding men back from accessing vital support services, according to a report published from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) and commissioned from the Young Foundation.
It found that the perception that men should simply ‘man-up’ in difficult times serves as a barrier to them seeking help, jeopardising their health & well-being and putting them at risk of financial and social exclusion.
The Engagement of Men report explores the reasons why men are more resistant than women to seeking help and what can be done to encourage more men to ask for access support before they hit crisis point.
CRUK: A calculator which predicts a patient’s risk of having bowel cancer could help doctors decide when to refer patients make better referral decisions rather than relying on individual symptoms, a new study shows.
The QCancer calculator uses 7 risk factors for bowel cancer in women, and 9 in men, to predict their risk of having the disease, including age, presence of symptoms and lifestyle behaviours. Researchers found that using the QCancer calculator nearly three quarters of bowel cancers were identified in both men & in women.
DUK: Diabetes UK have produced a Ramadan Calendar for 2012 to give advice & tips for people with diabetes about fasting during the Muslim holy month. It also gives all the sunrise times, and also offers helpful advice for people with diabetes who are planning to fast for Ramadan, which this year begins around 19 July (subject to the moon).
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: An online tax guide designed for farmers has been launched. HM Revenue and Customs has been working with farming bodies, such as NFU, to produce a Starting your own Business e learning tutorial, aimed at those new to farming, who might be unaware of their tax obligations, and the many experienced farmers who are currently diversifying, which can change their tax obligations.
This Brief explains the implications for the Aggregates Levy of the March 2012 judgment of the European General Court, in the case of British Aggregates Association v the European Commission.
Defra: Pubs will be able to save almost £3,000 a year, serve better pints to punters and conserve significant amounts of energy using state of the art drinks cooling technology being developed with Government backing.
21 businesses are getting government funding to develop technology that can boost food & drink production & improve the environment. Other award winners include: a digital project making buying local food more convenient & affordable online; a farm irrigation system to dramatically reduce water use; and research into reducing potato diseases without using pesticides.
Two competitions, co-funded were announced at the Farming, Food and Drink Innovation Summit in March 2012. The aim was to inspire innovation that leads to more efficient production with less impact on the environment.
BIS: The latest £120m investment from government & industry in aerospace research & technology was announced at the Farnborough International Airshow. The new funding, part of a total £200m investment in aerospace since 2011, was announced alongside a new vision for the future of the sector which will help UK aerospace firms win £bns worth of new contracts over the next 15 to 20 years.
WAG: Environment Minister, John Griffiths, has attended the launch in Wales of new industry body the Resource Association. Key objectives of the Association are to ‘raise awareness of employment opportunities in the recycling & reprocessing industries and work with local authorities to improve recycling services’.
Speaking at the event, the Minister outlined details of the Welsh Government’s Collections, Infrastructure and Markets Sector (CIMS) Plan. It outlines how the Welsh economy can best provide sustainable, high quality recyclate for local reprocessors of recycled material & manufacturers of products from recycled materials.
WAG: OSTC Wales is set to establish the largest trading floor in the UK outside of London in a major expansion supported by the Welsh Government.
The company - which was the first derivatives trading company to set up in Wales - will create 132 new jobs, the majority being graduates from Glamorgan & Cardiff University Trading Floor Schools, along with students from Swansea University.
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