In the News
CQC: Another rotten apple in the NHS barrel? - The Care Quality Commission recently published its full investigation report into University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
It found that despite action taken by the trust in response to earlier concerns & recommendations made in earlier reviews, patients remained at risk of poor care, particularly those in A&E and other parts of the hospital that provided urgent care.
Other key findings of the report include:
* Concerns remain regarding inconsistent incident reporting practices; lack of learning from incidents and poor use of performance information to drive change
* Little evidence of the whole trust working together to drive change & improvements in care
* An apparent ‘shared helplessness’ among staff
*Staffing levels across some parts of the trust were inadequate.
* There were concerns about the trust’s ability to effectively manage the quality of service delivery
HMT: Building our way to a more prosperous future - The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Chief Secretary to the Treasury have unveiled a new UK Guarantees scheme to ‘dramatically accelerate major infrastructure investment and provide major support to UK exporters’.
Applications are now open for UK Guarantees to kick start critical infrastructure projects that may have stalled because of adverse credit conditions. Up to £40bn of projects that are ready or nearly ready could qualify and, subject to legislation, the first guarantees are expected to be awarded in the Autumn. To qualify, these projects must be ready to start in the 12 months following a guarantee being given.
Also from last week, a new temporary lending programme, as part of UK Guarantees, will be available to ensure that around 30 public private partnership infrastructure projects worth an estimated £6bn in the next 12 months can go ahead.
A major £5bn export refinancing facility will be available later this year as part of UK Guarantees to provide long-term loans for overseas buyers of UK exports at competitive rates by guaranteeing a series of short-term bank loans.
UKOC: Have you moved to e-service delivery? - Between 14 September 2011 and 30 April 2012, UK online centres worked collaboratively with Sheffield City Council, Jobcentre Plus, Citizens Advice and The Pensions Service on an innovative project in Sheffield to increase awareness of the benefits of using online public services.
The Sheffield Channel Shift project, led by UKOC, was a unique city-wide project that encouraged, inspired & mentored organisations to embrace a collaborative approach to digital by default service delivery, and to support individuals to use online services.
If you are a local authority, a medium-sized organisation or a local community partner and you would like to build a similar partnership in your area you can use the FREE UKOC toolkit and read the Sheffield Channel Shift report.
CLG: Applying the Pareto Principle to social care of families who are in / cause trouble - Louise Casey CB has published a report highlighting the chaotic personal histories of the kinds of families who will be targeted as part of the Government's commitment to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families by 2015.
The report details stark real-life accounts from families, with experiences often passed from generation to generation, such as domestic & sexual abuse, teenage pregnancies, poor parenting, social care interventions, police call outs and educational failure.
It also contains her early conclusions that a whole-family approach is often best for dealing with multiple & inter-linked problems; rather than approaches that deal with single problems or single individuals within a household.
HMRC: Last chance - HM Revenue & Customs are reminding tax credit claimants that they have until 31 July 2012 to renew their claims. If they do not renew their claims in time, payments could stop.
Press release & links
Latest Case Study: Scottish Public Embrace 1st Ever ‘Report it’ Smartphone App - In October 2011, as part of a nation-wide Customer First Channel Shift initiative, North Ayrshire Council launched the nation’s first integrated “Report It” Smartphone app, enabling citizens to report problems like graffiti and potholes to the council while on the go.
The introduction of mobile services to citizens is part of a strategy of transitioning to more cost-effective channels that promise better, more efficient customer service. By launching the “Report It” app, the council were able to evaluate the case for “mobilizing” other council services.
“The launch itself was also very much a way for us to dip our toe in the water to see if we could build a strong business case for moving forward with additional mobile services for North Ayrshire’s 135,000 resident citizens.” – Esther Gunn Stewart, Customer Services Manager, North Ayrshire Council.
With over 1100 downloads so far, the app is already the second channel of choice for reporting street-related problems, exceeding the council website as a channel and representing 18% of reports filed. Success has the council is now moving forward with other mobile projects.
Click here to view and download the full case study.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
MoD: 'The Two Worlds of Charlie F', which has already taken the West End by storm, kicked off its UK tour at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre on 19 July, with a glittering press launch. The production, performed by wounded, injured & sick Service personnel of Bravo 22 Company, brings to life their real-life stories of conflict and recovery.
WAG: The Minister for Housing Regeneration & Heritage has recently congratulated the 5 Welsh community projects set to benefit from the Coastal Communities Fund. Under the CC Fund, which was established by the UK Treasury, grants are available to fund projects that boost the economic prospects of coastal communities across the UK.
FSA: Morrisons is recalling one batch of its own-brand Pesto Chicken Pasta, with a 'use by' date of 20 July. The product contains prawn linguine with celery, instead of pesto chicken pasta. If you're allergic to or intolerant of shellfish (prawns) and/or celery, don't eat this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: Prompt Thai 2000 (Wholesale) has recalled all jars of its Kraft Cheez Whiz manufactured in the Philippines. The Philippines is a country not approved to export milk or milk-based dairy products into the EU. If you've bought any of these products, don’t eat them. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
ACE: Recently Arts Council England launched a £7m Digital R&D Fund for the Arts in partnership with Nesta and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The fund is unique in encouraging collaboration between the arts, digital technology providers and the research community in order to undertake experiments from which the wider arts and cultural sector can learn.
ACE expects that the fund will support approximately 90 R&D collaborations. Projects will be funded up to a value of £125,000 and will focus on 6 key themes. More information on the application process, including key eligibility criteria, can be found on its website. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis during the lifetime of the fund, until 30 December 2013..
CBI: The CBI recently commented on the Funding for Lending scheme announced by the Bank of England and the Government, through which banks will be able to access more & cheaper funding over the next 18 months to pass on to businesses & households.
TNA: The service records of the first 320,000 airmen to serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and its forebears are now searchable by name following the conclusion of a successful cataloguing project. Previously, it was only possible to search the index of airmen on microfilm in the reading rooms at Kew.
MoD: Children from 11 primary schools across Bristol have taken part in a project run by graduate trainee engineers from the MOD's Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG). Each year, a graduate development project is organised for new graduates to engage in - and this year more than 70 trainees have worked with local schools to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering & maths.
NEF: Greenham, Head of Finance at the New Economics Foundation Responding has responded to Labour leader, Ed Miliband’s recent speech on banking.
DCMS: A project which aims to transform people’s understanding of the history of the Middle East and its relationship with Britain has been announced. The British Library and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) have teamed up to digitise more than 500,000 pages from the archives of the East India Company and India Office, as well as 25,000 pages of medieval Arabic manuscripts.
LGA: Householders are being denied flood insurance because of delays by the Government and insurers coming to a new deal on affordable cover. A ‘safety net' arrangement between government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to provide cover to flood-risk homes expires next June, and a new agreement has yet to be reached.
With less than a year of the existing deal remaining, councils have found that some householders who have tried to renew their insurance in the past few weeks have been denied cover or quoted hugely inflated prices.
TfL: Free travel will be offered to all military personnel when in uniform on London Underground, London's buses, the Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and other TfL-operated services for the duration of the Games, from Saturday 21 July to 11 September..
All TfL staff will be instructed to simply open the gates at stations, or to allow free access to services to all uniformed military personnel.
TUC: TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, has commented on the IMF country report on the UK published last week.
NE: Natural England is to give planning & licensing applicants, greater access to the advice of its case officers & wildlife advisers, ensuring their proposals can benefit from high-quality conservation advice at an early stage of plan development.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence and DWP have announced a simplification & streamlining of the financial support system for members of the Armed Forces who have been seriously injured. Rather than face separate assessments, personnel who have been seriously injured as a result of military service will receive ongoing payments to help with the additional costs associated with their injuries.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: The Government has unveiled detailed plans for the new child maintenance system in Great Britain. There will be extra help for separated parents who want to support their children and new penalties for those who won't.
The new statutory maintenance scheme, to be known as the Child Maintenance Service, will take cases where parents cannot make their own arrangements. In order to motivate & create incentives for parental collaboration, a system of charging will apply. The Child Support Agency currently costs almost £500m p.a. on top of the £6bn the Government already pays out in income-related support for lone parents.
HMT: The Government has published its definition of environmental taxes. The definition is designed to encourage effective policy making, and also measurement of progress against the Coalition Agreement pledge to increase the proportion of revenue that comes from environmental tax.
No10: Crossrail, Thameslink, and electrification between London & Cardiff among £5.2bn of projects already committed to during 2014-2019. More than £9bn of growth-boosting railway upgrades across England & Wales – representing faster journey times, more reliable services and capacity for 140,000 extra daily commutes by train – have been announced by Transport Secretary Justine Greening.
DWP: Plans to make it simple for people to take their work pension with them from job to job were published last week. Current rules make it difficult for people to combine their pension pots as they move jobs, leaving money stranded or lost completely. Without action 50m pots could sit dormant by 2050.
DfT: A major new road scheme involving tolling will be added to the Department for Transport’s programme of major projects. Subject to agreement with interested local authorities on a funding package and decisions at the next Spending Review construction work could begin by 2018.
The plans are designed to address congestion & long term capacity issues on & around the strategically crucial A14.
Defra: Restaurants, pubs & caterers should tell diners which countries their food is from, Food & Farming Minister Jim Paice has urged. The appeal from Mr Paice comes 18 months after the food industry introduced voluntary country of origin labelling standards but there has been little action from caterers and no overall improvement on foods in shops, with some manufacturers actually providing less information.
DfE: Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that he has approved the opening of 15 new Studio Schools, which are due to open in 2013 & 2014. By September 2013 the DfE expect 30 Studio Schools to be open. Studio Schools are set up with the backing of employers, and are a key part of the Government's drive to ensure the education system gives school leavers the skills that business needs to grow and prosper.
DfE: Ofsted will no longer be required to produce an annual assessment of each local authority’s children’s services, following the repeal of section 138 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.
NE: The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England have presented the formal Advice Package on 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
HO: A College of Policing will be set up to develop professionalism, improve the evidence base for policing and help officers in the fight against crime, Home Secretary Theresa May announced recently. It will set standards of entry for those who want to become a police officer and will provide some specialist training itself.
The body will forge links between the police service & universities, encouraging future academics to specialise in looking at how policing can be made more effective. The current role of all ACPO business areas in developing national standards & police practice will come under the responsibility of the College.
WAG: Funding for the Families First programme was announced at a national event in the Park Inn, Cardiff recently. It includes £3m for projects with a focus on disability. Families First is delivered by local authorities in response to locally identified needs, with services & projects targeting families threatened or affected by poverty.
EU News: In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative (SAM), the European Commission has launched a review of the risk capital guidelines (as amended on 1/12/2010), which outline the criteria for assessing the compatibility of public support measures in this field.
The review starts with a public consultation, seeking stakeholders' views on the functioning of the guidelines since their adoption in 2006 and in particular on market developments concerning the supply of equity and debt finance to SMEs. Submissions can be made until 5 October 2012.
Press release & links
Ofgem: Ofgem has recently announced proposals (consultation closes on 20 September 2012) to upgrade & renew Britain's electricity & gas networks. These include funding £17bn of investment with around a further £5bn potentially available over the course of the price control period (1 April 2013 – 2021).
Press release & links
DfT: Proposals on applying new European rules which aim to bring the rights of passengers taking long-distance coach trips into line with those using planes & trains have been set out by Transport Minister, Norman Baker.
The Department for Transport has launched a consultation (closes on 11 October 2012) putting forward the UK’s plans for applying Europe-wide regulations that aim to ensure bus & coach passengers have similar legal protection to those using other forms of transport.
Press release & links
LC: The Law Commission is asking how, in the criminal law of England & Wales, the defences of insanity & automatism are working, if at all. The current rules that govern the insanity defence date from 1843.
Despite the many criticisms, there is very little evidence to show that the defence causes significant difficulties in practice. With this scoping exercise (closes 18 October 2012), the Commission is asking judges, lawyers, psychiatrists and other professionals with experience of working in this area whether the current law causes problems in application in practice, and if so, the extent of those problems.
Press release & links
EU News: In these difficult times of increasing unemployment,
Europe needs more entrepreneurs. Whilst actually only 11% of European citizens are entrepreneurs, 45% would like to be their own boss if they could.
To unlock this enormous potential for jobs & growth, the European Commission intends to launch in autumn 2012 a European Entrepreneurship Action Plan to boost entrepreneurship at all levels.
To this end, the Commission has launched a public consultation (closes 1 October 2012) with the aim to gather inputs from stakeholders and citizens on the scope of possible future actions at EU, national and regional level in promoting entrepreneurship.
Press release & links
NE: Natural has invited further contributions to the second stage of a wide-ranging evidence review into land management, biodiversity & ecosystem services in the uplands. Views & contributions are welcome from upland land managers, land owners, industry, academic, scientific and third sector groups. The deadline for submissions is 14 September 2012.
Press release & links
BIS: The Government is asking anyone involved in making investments and running large projects on the coast to feed in their experiences, good & bad, of dealing with local & national regulators as part of the Focus on Enforcement campaign. This move has been welcomed by the Engineering Employers Federation and the Marine Management Organisation.
The campaign allows comments to be posted anonymously as well as ‘on the record’ and is also interested to learn of any evidence that third parties are implying that regulations require companies or individuals to take action when in fact the regulations do not require this.
Press release & links
HMT: The Government has published a consultation on the future regulation & governance of the payments industry, Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has announced. The payments industry, which sets strategy on important payment mechanisms including the future of cheques, is central to the functioning of the economy, yet the Government does not feel it has always responded effectively to the needs of consumers.
The consultation, which proposes 3 options for reform of the payments services industry, closes on 10 October 2012.
Press release & links
DWP: Parents, early years professionals & others with an interest in childcare are being urged to come forward with their ideas to help improve the accessibility & affordability of childcare. The childcare commission is calling for evidence & ideas on how to make childcare more affordable for working families and reduce any unnecessary burdens on providers. The call for evidence runs until 31 August 2012 and the Commission will report in the autumn.
Press release & links
WAG: A plan to improve oral health & dental services across the country has been opened for public consultation (closes on 12 October 2012). The draft Plan fits in with the Welsh Government’s vision for the NHS in outlined in Together for Health and sets out the vision for improving oral health and reducing oral health inequalities over the next 5 years & beyond.
Press release & links
EU News: The European Commission has launched a consultation (closes on 19 November 2012) to help victims of cross-border traffic accidents, who may currently face difficulties because of varying time limits for claiming compensation for damage in case of an accident abroad in the EU.
Press release & links
TNA: The National Archives has released a draft of a new Records collection policy (comments by 5 October 2012). This policy is a refresh of the existing Acquisition and Disposition Strategy and sets out which records the NA will & will not collect from public records bodies, when they will collect them and where they will be held.
Press release & links
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Socitm: Socitm has published a new guide, part of its Planting the Flag series that sets out the importance of ICT governance for public service organisations serious about public service reform.
Planting the Flag: pocket guide 2 - governance is the second of 6 guides from Socitm on the strategic capabilities required for public service reform. All 6 of these capabilities were set out by Socitm in Planting the Flag, the strategy for local public services reform it published last year.
IPPR: New figures published recently by the Office for Budget Responsibility reveal the long-term pressures on the public finances caused by Britain’s ageing population & technological advances.
IPPR analysis quantifies the tough political choices on tax & spending needed to ‘ensure that the public finances remain sustainable over the long-term and that key policy priorities can be delivered’.
ACE: Arts Council England has published its annual review 2011/12.
NAO: The National Audit Office has given an update on the financial support provided by the Treasury to the UK banking sector – how much support has been provided, how much is still outstanding and how much it is costing the taxpayer.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2011/12.
NAO: A report published by the National Audit Office has found the UK Border Agency and Border Force has achieved both cost reductions & performance improvement since 2010, but insufficiently coherent planning and delayed delivery of key projects have hampered faster progress.
ONS: The population of England & Wales on census day (27 March 2011) was 56.1m. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the first results from the 2011 Census recently. In the last 10 years the population of England grew by 7% to 53m and Wales by 5% to 3.06m.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued its Annual Report & Accounts for 2011/12.
ONS: The Office for National Statistics has recorded a significant downwards trend in employee membership of private sector defined benefit (DB) pension schemes – down from 34% 1997 to 9% in 2011.
DfE: The Department for Education has published new data showing how many students progressed to further or higher education or training for each school, college and local authority in England. It is also the first time that the number & proportion of young people in a school, college & authority who attend Oxbridge or a Russell Group university is being published.
PC&PE: In a new report, the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee calls on the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to raise its game significantly. CLG Committee chair Clive Betts said:
"First and foremost, the LGO must implement the changes identified by the recent Strategic Business Review, so that it can live within its means while providing the service to the public that is required by the legislation and expected by taxpayer. LGO has been taking far too long to determine some cases. ………….. The organisation needs to apply strict deadlines to all the cases that it handles”.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has published the Report from the Professional Oversight Board (POB) to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on its oversight of the regulation of the audit, accountancy and actuarial professions, for the year to 31 March 2012.
PC&PE: The Government's Alcohol Strategy is a welcome attempt to address the problems alcohol causes in a coherent way, but its focus on public order overshadows health issues, warn MPs on the Health Committee in a new report.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has told Serco Ltd that it must take action to improve its out of hours GP services in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly. In a report published recently CQC says that Serco was not meeting 4 of the essential standards of quality & safety. Providers have a legal responsibility to make sure they are meeting all the essential standards.
PA: 1 in 4 doctors think handover procedures between healthcare professionals during changes of shift are either 'informal' or 'not in place', according to a new General Medical Council survey. 51,000 trainee doctors have responded to a GMC survey in which serious concerns are raised about the impact of poor training on patient care.
Whilst 80% reported that their training was either 'good' or 'excellent', 1 in 3 described the introduction they received about their role, responsibilities & objectives within the organisation they work in as 'fair', 'poor' or 'very poor'.
MoJ: Work needed to address & change offenders' attitudes and behaviour is not happening to any meaningful extent in many prisons. As a result, the opportunity to help them reform before release is being missed.
General Reports and Other Publications
PC&PE: In a report published recently, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee calls on the Government to scrap its plans to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists.
The Committee says that under the Government’s proposals, a lobbyist who worked in house for a large company such as News International, or Tesco, would not be required to register, however a 'one-man band' lobbyist would be required to register, name their clients, and pay for the privilege.
ASI: In a recent report, the Adam Smith Institute says that George Osborne’s plans to replace the Financial Services Authority – discredited over its mishandling of the banking crisis – will make things even worse, increasing bureaucracy and cost on Britain’s key financial-services sector.
IISS: The International Institute for Strategic Studies reports that the financial sanctions & oil embargoes imposed on Iran since December 2011 by the US & EU, along with the 2010 UN Security Council sanctions, could yet deal a knock-out blow to the country's development of long-range ballistic missiles.
CH: A Mitt Romney administration would likely seek to expand the US military and assume a more assertive posture abroad, whilst a second term Barack Obama presidency would continue to prioritize the targeted use of force, according to a new US Election Note from Chatham House.
DECC: Two separate pieces of work that look at the future of our electricity system were published last week by the Department of Energy & Climate Change:
* A response to a consultation on transmission licences, which found that changes to the regime on constraints, could save up to £300m between 2012-17
* The conclusions of the initial Electricity Demand Reduction Assessment, based on internal work and some analysis by McKinsey & Company, which finds significant potential for greater efficiency in the use of electricity.
TUC: There is no evidence that the pay of teachers, nurses & dinner ladies is preventing local firms from hiring staff, and government plans to introduce regional pay rates for public servants could cost the economy almost £10bn a year, according to a report published by the TUC.
PX: In the first detailed examination of the pros & cons of same sex marriage, the authors of a paper published by think tank Policy Exchange argue that the balance of argument favours equal marriage. The report – What’s In A Name? Is there a case for equal marriage? – looks at the social, historic and legal arguments for & against gay marriage.
CBI: The CBI commented on a report published by the Department for Business, comparing the UK’s energy costs with other countries. It confirms that the UK’s energy and climate change policies add more to energy intensive industries’ electricity costs than in any other country in the study.
NAO: The National Audit Office has recommended that a reform programme aimed at improving the management of animal disease, despite being subject to some ICT difficulties & delay, has the potential to achieve value for money and should be carried through to completion.
PC&PE: Recent increases in road fatalities should be a wake-up call for Government to step up & provide stronger leadership on road safety, say MPs in a report examining the Government's Strategic Framework for Road Safety.
NO: Blaby Council did not exercise proper control over bailiffs it employed to collect council tax debts, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
NO: Walsall Council wrongly charged a woman top-up fees for her mother’s residential care, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
PC&PE: The Foreign Affairs Committee has called on the Government to make reform-related assistance to the Arab Spring region a priority of its G8 presidency in 2013.
The G8 Deauville Partnership fund identified $38bn of support available to Arab Spring countries in the form of loans, grants, budget support & technical assistance in 2011. However, the Committee heard that much of this had not reached states in transition.
Ofgem: Ofgem has published an update on the progress of the Big Six suppliers in opening up the wholesale power market to improve retail competition.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has published its report on sport & exercise science and medicine and say that more must be done to make use of exercise based treatments. During their inquiry, they heard compelling evidence that physical activity can be used as part of treatment for a wide range of chronic diseases.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its Report on Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
CBI: The CBI has responded to the Bank of England’s latest Trends in Lending report as it launched a new report with recommendations on how to get growth finance going.
PX: The lives of some of the most deprived & vulnerable people in London are most at risk from air pollution caused by two of London’s most iconic symbols – black cabs & red buses. Over 4,000 deaths in London and around 29,000 deaths across the UK each year are attributable to fine particulate air pollution caused by diesel engined vehicles, at a cost to the economy of £15bn.
A new report by think tank Policy Exchange – Something in the Air – says that air pollution is Britain’s invisible environmental problem. It is comparable to obesity and alcohol and second only to smoking as a public health problem, but gets far less attention. Yet some government policies, such as encouraging diesel vehicles in cities, are making the problem even worse.
HEFCE: How do different higher education institutions approach staff time allocation? This is the subject of a report published recently, ‘Review of time allocation methods’ (which makes 12 recommendations) that will inform the costing of activities in higher education.
The importance of an institution’s ability to demonstrate accountability for the funding it receives from various sources has grown. At a time when student expectations & resource challenges are increasing, institutions need processes to ensure a fair & equitable allocation of work.
Legislation / Legal
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has recently launched a review of the personal current account market and outlined a longer term programme of work aimed at addressing competition concerns and a lack of customer focus across the wider retail banking market.
HO: The pilot to test the domestic violence disclosure scheme (DVDS), often known as ‘Clare’s Law’, began last week. Police in Gwent & Wiltshire will be the first to start piloting the scheme, with forces in Nottinghamshire & Greater Manchester commencing in September 2012. The pilot will end in September 2013.
Under the scheme an individual can ask the police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past (‘right to ask’). If police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic violence from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information.
The pilot will also look at how the police can proactively release information (‘right to know’) to protect a person from domestic violence where it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so.
CBI: A new CBI report examines the Government’s Work Programme one year on from its launch. Work in Progress argues the Work Programme represents a good deal for jobseekers, employers and the taxpayer, but that further evolution of the scheme is required.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
PC&PE: The Government must deliver on a promise to make it easier for development projects to secure match funding through the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), says the Communities and Local Government Committee in a report of its recent inquiry into the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Ministers must recognise the problems that ERDF projects face and set aside RGF money specifically for this purpose. The UK should also press for reform so that after 2020 it can retain that portion of UK monies currently paid into the ERDF but recycled back for projects in England, and use these funds to deliver its own regional policy
EU News: The deal on the proposed EU energy efficiency directive struck by MEPs and Council on 13 June was endorsed by the Energy Committee last Thursday. The directive would introduce mandatory measures such as renovating public buildings & energy-saving schemes for utilities. The plenary vote is scheduled for September 2012.
EU News: Vehicle checks are fundamental to road safety. More than 5 people die on Europe's roads every day in accidents linked to technical failure. So the European Commission has adopted new rules to toughen up the testing regime and widen its scope.
Existing EU rules setting minimum standards for vehicle checks date back to 1977, with only minor updates. Cars, driver behaviour & technology have developed a lot since then.
EU News: As part of a joint initiative with national food safety agencies, EFSA is publishing new risk communications guidelines: ‘When Food Is Cooking Up a Storm – Proven Recipes for Risk Communications’.
A recognised need for practical guidance coupled with a desire from all participating countries to share learning & experience to strengthen risk communications within the European food safety system has resulted in these guidelines.
EU News: Boosting clinical research in Europe by simplifying the rules for conducting clinical trials is what last week’s proposal from the Commission is about. Clinical trials are tests of medicines in humans and give patients access to most innovative treatments. The proposed Regulation, once adopted, will replace the 'Clinical Trials Directive' of 2001.
It has ensured high level of patient safety, but its divergent transposition & application led to an unfavourable regulatory framework for clinical research, thus contributing to a decrease of 25% of clinical trials conducted in the period between 2007 & 2011.
The legislative proposal will now be discussed in the European Parliament and in the Council. It is expected to come into effect in 2016.
EU News: New rules on biocides entered into force last week. They will bring a significant boost to the protection of human health & the environment. Biocidal products are necessary for the control of organisms that are harmful to human or animal health or that cause damage to materials.
But as their properties can also pose risks to humans, animals and the environment, they need careful regulation. The new regulation on biocidal products will increase the safety of these chemical products and simplify their authorisation on the EU market, improving their free movement on the internal market.
EU News: The European Progress Microfinance Facility has proved to be a successful tool to create jobs, particularly amongst groups with difficulties to raise finance from more traditional sources, by helping start-ups by micro-entrepreneurs, according to the second annual report on its implementation, published last week.
Through this Facility 20 microfinance providers throughout the European Union have received guarantees or funding (debt or equity) to facilitate their lending to would-be micro-entrepreneurs worth €170m over the coming 2 to 3 years.
EU News: The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has welcomed the EC's announcement that it will review its "Early Warning System"(EWS). The EWS consists of a database containing the names of persons or companies deemed to pose a threat to the financial interests of the European Union.
The review covers changes aimed at ensuring that the operation of the EWS respects fundamental rights, such as the right to be heard. The Commission's announcement follows the Ombudsman's inquiry and subsequent public consultation about the EWS.
EU News: The EC has launched a consultation (closes on 19 November 2012) to help victims of cross-border traffic accidents, who may currently face difficulties because of varying time limits for claiming compensation for damage in case of an accident abroad in the EU – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU News: The EC intends to launch in autumn 2012 a European Entrepreneurship Action Plan to boost entrepreneurship at all levels. To this end, the Commission has launched a public consultation (closes 1 October 2012) with the aim to gather inputs from stakeholders & citizens on the scope of possible future actions at EU, national and regional level in promoting entrepreneurship – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
EU News: In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative (SAM), the EC has launched a review of the risk capital guidelines as amended on 1/12/2010, which outline the criteria for assessing the compatibility of public support measures in this field – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
AI: One year after the launch of the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal, the extraordinary generosity of the UK public has funded help to 2.3m people in the region. But tough challenges still lie ahead, the DEC is warning. Age International is the only organisation within the DEC network to specifically support older people following emergencies.
Demos: Businesses & retailers must fill the gap left by closed post offices, pubs & libraries and offer ‘social spaces’ for Britain’s lonely older people according to a new report published recently by the think tank Demos. The report warns that the closure of these traditional ‘pensioner stomping grounds’, combined with cuts to local services, are forcing older people out of communities and behind closed doors.
The report Ageing Sociably argues that there is also a business case for more ‘age friendly’ services, highlighting that people over the age of 50 are responsible for nearly 40% of consumer spending each year and own some 80% of wealth in the UK.
CO: Charities should be given more control & freedom over how they are run, Lord Hodgson said in his report on the Charities Act 2006, which was laid before Parliament last week. As part of the recommendations, Lord Hodgson is calling for greater freedom for charities to decide how they are run, but balanced with greater transparency.
BIG: Palliative care provider Sue Ryder will expand its award-winning prisoner volunteer programme to help more former offenders break the cycle of offending through meaningful work in the voluntary sector, with its share of £11.1m from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme awarded to 45 projects recently.
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund has announced funding to 8 more innovative social investment schemes that will help make voluntary, community & social enterprise (VCSE) organisations more financially sustainable and better able to help people most in need.
This means that nearly £2m has now been awarded to 12 organisations through Next Steps: Supporting Social Investment in England, which is exploring the potential of new approaches to raising finance that will help address significant social issues.
Business and Other Briefings
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs has launched a video guide to help introduce employers to new Real Time Information (RTI) procedures. The video looks at what RTI means for employers, the main changes that will be introduced, a timetable and other help and support that is available.
Press release & links
MoD: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Thales UK have signed a new research contract for technology that will improve the resilience of future UK aircraft to anti-air threats.
The technology demonstrator, scheduled to be completed in 2015, will prove that the system can identify & declare threats in complex environments with a high level of accuracy. It will use up to 6 single colour infra-red sensors to provide full coverage of the volume around the aircraft and use Thales algorithms on a central processor.
WAG: NHS Wales has entered a contract framework that will give better value for money across all GP Clinical System services. GP practice suppliers EMIS and INPS are to provide a managed IT service to the country’s GP surgeries.
The main elements of the framework agreement are a Practice Software Service, Data-Centre Hardware & Software, a Drug Database and Utilities – Support & Maintenance & Training.
OS: Budding entrepreneurs across Great Britain are bidding for a share of £125,000 funding to turn their ideas on how Wales could make the most of its new coast path, into a reality.
The recently opened Wales Coast Path is the first coastal network in the world to cover an entire country. The 870 mile-long path stretches from the Dee estuary in north-east Wales to Chepstow in the south-east with breath taking scenery.
As part of its GeoVation Challenge, Ordnance Survey has challenged entrepreneurs across Great Britain to use innovation & geography to come up with ideas for ventures, products & applications, which will help connect communities & visitors along the path, benefiting those who live & work along the route, and beyond. Ideas have been developed in response to community based workshops, which identified problems associated with the path that need to be solved.
DCMS: North Yorkshire is the first county to deploy fibre broadband using funds from BDUK, the Government unit responsible for managing broadband funding. County council chiefs have signed a contract with BT that will help to take the total amount invested in the area’s fibre broadband to date to about £70m.
BT is contributing £10m towards this project alongside £17.8m of BDUK funds and £8.6m from the European Regional Development Fund. The telecommunications company has committed about £23m on fibre broadband in the county so far.
HO: A new company has been set up to help police forces to improve their information technology and get better value for money from contracts. The police ICT company is currently jointly owned by the Association of Police Authorities and the Home Office, but will be handed over to police & crime commissioners following elections in November 2012.
ACE: Arts Council England are offering an exclusive opportunity to talk to Alan Davey, Chief Executive, ACE, in a live chat online 12 midday on Wednesday 25 July. Whether you are actively engaged in the arts or just interested, if you have a burning question you'd like to ask our Chief Executive, now's your chance.
Press release & links
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