In the News
Please note that the WGPlus newsletter is taking its summer break and the next scheduled publication date will be on Monday 3 September 2012. We will, of course, continue to publish individual news items on a daily basis during August and to send out 'requested email alerts'.
CH: Proactive aid / help is far more effective - Early warnings that could prevent food shortages from developing into famines are not triggering early action among humanitarian agencies or donor governments, resulting in thousands of avoidable deaths, says a new Chatham House report. Instead, the humanitarian system tends to mobilize only once a crisis hits, when it is by definition too late to prevent an emergency.
Famine Early Warning and Early Action: The Cost of Delay, says the roots of this delay lie in failures of decision-making, which needs to be divorced from political agendas and based on objective analyses of the risks a potential crisis presents to vulnerable populations.
RUSI: Dammed if we do and Dammed if we don’t - The latest Royal United Services Institute report - Syria Crisis Briefing: 'A Collision Course for Intervention' - claims the problem of containing the Syrian conflict; preventing it sparking even greater violence, fragmenting neighbouring countries and even provoking cross-border invasions, is now more urgent than dampening the violence inside Syria itself.
However loathe western governments have been to embrace a creeping intervention in the Syria crisis, the events of recent days have created a step change in the situation that will make a hands-off approach increasingly difficult to maintain.
The Briefing examines the question of military intervention offering a detailed, sober & pragmatic assessment of a range of different options available, as well as the risks associated with each.
DH: Healthy workers in mind & body - The government has published the Mental Health Implementation Framework, which sets out what organisations can do to make the 6 high-level objectives of the mental health strategy (No Health without Mental Health) a reality. The framework also announces a new mental health dashboard, which will provide a picture of overall progress towards implementing the mental health strategy.
The framework has been co-produced with 5 leading mental health organisations and it highlights useful guidance & sources of information to help local organisations use their existing powers & resources to improve mental health & wellbeing.
In addition employers are being asked to take 5 simple steps to improve the mental health of their staff. Mental ill health costs British businesses over £1,000 per employee every year, or almost £30bn across the UK economy. This is mostly in lost production through staff being off work or underperforming at work.
DfE: Paying for a NEET solution - A pioneering scheme to get NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) back on their feet kicked off recently with charities & businesses given the go-ahead to prove they can turn young people’s lives around in exchange for cash. Funding worth up to £126m is being made available to organisations across England, who will be paid by results to get 16- & 17-year-olds back into education or training.
The programme, part of the Deputy PM’s Youth Contract, is the first to use payment by results to help get NEETs re-engaged. Organisations involved have had to compete for contracts by showing they are able to get young people back on track. In return for proving they are experts in the field, they will be given freedom to tailor & provide support for disadvantaged young people in the way they know best.
TUC: The high job cost of going green - High energy costs and the UK's emissions targets are making life hard for the UK's steel, cement, ceramics and other core industries who are warning that thousands of jobs could be at risk without more government support for companies in the energy intensive sector.
A report - Building Our Low-Carbon Industries - produced by the TUC and the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) says that there are currently 800,000 people working in the UK's energy intensive industries (EIIs). It says this sector contributes £95bn a year to the economy - a fifth of the UK's manufacturing total - but warns that heavy energy users are operating under difficult conditions and, without ministerial action, jobs & investment could be lost to overseas competitors.
Last week a report from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills warned that the UK's heavy energy users were paying at least double the amount in renewable energy subsidies and greenhouse gas emission standards that their competitors in Europe are paying.
Unite: Being ill is no holiday - A landmark case involving NHS Leeds has ruled that an employee is still entitled to paid annual holidays, even if they have been off sick for the whole of that year.
Unite national officer for health, Barrie Brown said: “This case was being watched by a number of NHS trusts for its outcome – and, in this respect, it is a landmark judgement. It reinforces the principle that if you are off sick for a lengthy period you are still entitled to paid annual holidays and that they can’t be withheld from you by an employer. It is part of your contract of employment.”
EU News: EC doesn’t trust UK regulation - In the recent LIBOR scandal, serious concerns have been raised about false submissions of banks' estimated interbank lending rates. The EC has acted to address this kind of market manipulation, making such manipulation a criminal offence – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc’ section for more information.
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
TfL: A multi-million pound safety improvement programme for cyclists at major junctions across the Capital will begin this autumn as part of a review of major junctions in the Capital by Transport for London (TfL).
PA: A Department of Health Consultation has raised new doubts over Government plans for scrutiny of NHS competition. Chief Executive of The Patients Association, Katherine Murphy, has recently written to Andrew Lansley asking for clarification on whether or not competition law will be applicable to the NHS or alternative providers. The letter also points out seemingly contradictory accounts of the role of NHS regulator, Monitor.
WAG: A new course to help parents & families learn Welsh with their children has been launched. The specially tailored Welsh for Families course will be run by Welsh for Adults Centres and its development was funded by the Welsh Government.
Socitm: Socitm Insight has announced a number of important changes to the way Better connected, its annual survey of all local authority websites, will be run in 2012/13.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence has signed a multi-million pound contract for new boots for the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.
DCMS: From Ben Nevis to Dartmoor, distinctive landscapes, the length & breadth of the UK, have been earmarked for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) investment. The 13 areas have passed the first round of the organisation’s Landscape Partnerships (LP) programme, meaning they could receive a share of £20m. The funding will help to conserve the landscapes by supporting schemes that provide long-term social, economic & environmental benefits for rural areas.
FSA: Cambridge Weight Plan is recalling one batch of its Cambridge Weight Plan Lactose-free Vanilla Drink. The product contains milk, which isn’t mentioned on the label, and an incorrect lactose-free claim is included. If you’re allergic to or intolerant of lactose or milk, don’t drink this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: Prompt Thai 2000 (Wholesale) has recalled all jars of a range of Lady’s Choice spreads & sachets of Knorr soups manufactured in the Philippines. The products contain meat, egg & dairy ingredients that do not have the necessary import approvals. If you've bought the products don’t eat them. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is warning people not to eat a certain batch of Italian olives sold in jars after one person became ill with botulism poisoning after eating them. It has issued a Food Alert for Action.
Investigations are continuing to establish where the jar of olives was bought, as well as other places they may be on sale. However, it has been confirmed that the implicated batch of olives was labelled I DIVINI di Chicco Francesco with the 'best before date' 10/06/2014 and lot number 161/11.
MoD: 5 years ago, Private Derek Derenalagi lost both legs when he was injured in Afghanistan. Now he's been selected to compete with Team GB at the Paralympics in the F57 Discus event.
ESRC: Continuing access to the UK’s most valuable collection of social & economic data has been secured with a £17m investment over 5 years for the UK Data Service. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) the new service which will start on the 1 October 2012 is structured to support researchers in academia, business, third sector and all levels of government.
The new service will provide a unified point of access to the extensive range of high quality economic & social data, including valuable census data. It is designed to provide seamless access & support to meet the current & future research demands of both academic & non-academic users, and to help them maximise the impact of their work.
Socitm: Socitm has launched an updated version of its Cookie Management Service for local authorities and other public service website owners.
NE: Emerging from obscurity, 10 previously unnamed British species are now enjoying some long-awaited limelight, as the results of the competition to give them popular names have been announced. The overall winner was the ‘cutpurse wasp’, hitherto known only as Aporus unicolor – a wasp that breaks into the burrow of the purse web spider, paralyses it and uses the still-living body as a host for its own eggs.
Other winners included the solar-powered sea slug, corrugated scarab and semaphore fly, previously known as Elysia viridis, Brindalus porcicollis and Poecilobothrus nobilatus respectively. It’s hoped that their more memorable (and easier to pronounce) new names will find them places in the popular imagination alongside species such as the kingfisher, dormouse and bee orchid.
DWP: From last week newly diagnosed victims of mesothelioma will receive help through a new support scheme, the Minister for Welfare Lord Freud and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have announced. T
he new scheme will allow around 3,000 mesothelioma victims across the UK who are unable to claim compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or employers’ liability insurer to receive approximately £300m in payments in the first 10 years.
TfL: Air-conditioned trains are now running on the Metropolitan line and station cooling works completed ahead of the London 2012 Games at Green Park and Oxford Circus
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DECC: Greater certainty for investors in renewable heat & small scale electricity technologies and a fair deal for consumers were delivered recently by Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, as he clarified future arrangements for Feed-in Tariffs and the Renewable Heat Incentive.
BIS: Restoring relationships built on long term trust & confidence and realigning incentives across the investment chain should be the basis of a much needed shift in the culture of the UK’s equity markets, according to a new independent review from Professor John Kay, published last week.
In his review, ‘UK equity markets & long-term decision making’, Professor Kay sets out a clear vision and a set of principles to ensure that equity markets support their core purpose of enhancing the performance of UK companies, and providing returns to savers.
The report finds that short-termism is an underlying problem in UK equity markets, principally caused by a misalignment of incentives within the investment chain and the displacement of trust relationships by a culture based on transactions and trading.
HMT: Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke has announced Government proposals to crack down on the promoters of contrived & aggressive tax avoidance schemes.
The proposals include making the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) rules an even stronger & more effective weapon in the battle against tax avoidance, for example by giving HMRC stronger powers to force promoters to tell them about avoidance schemes and who is using them, and tightening the rules so that it is easier to impose penalties for failure to provide information to HMRC about a scheme.
CLG: A new dedicated call centre & user-friendly website have now gone live to ensure aspiring home-owners among England's 2.5m social tenants can get advice & information about changes to the Right to Buy.
BIS: New official statistics show that the number of women in the boardrooms of the UK’s top companies has increased in the past year. Last week saw the first year anniversary of the voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms. The code, developed by leading members of the industry in direct response to Lord Davies’ review into ‘Women on Boards’, sets out 7 key principles of best practice for executive search firms to abide by throughout the recruitment process.
Defra: Britain’s world class engineers, scientists & designers are being challenged to come up with innovative ways to help protect UK infrastructure from the effects of climate change in a new competition. With a total prize fund of £400,000, it will provide successful candidates with funding to develop their pioneering solutions to protect infrastructure such as roads, airports, power stations, water treatment plants and Wi-Fi networks against the threats of climate change.
This competition closes on 7 September 2012 and applicants must be in a position to start their design work by October 2012.
WAG: New plans to develop a Pollinator Action Plan for Wales that will help protect Wales’ unique environment & boost its bee population have been announced.
DECC: Community groups up & down the nation will be able to bid for a share of £8m to install low carbon heating like solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps into homes in their local area. Community-based organisations including community co-operatives, voluntary groups, social enterprises & development trusts are eligible to apply.
Community groups will need to submit a first stage application to the Energy Saving Trust by 7 September 2012. Applications will be judged on a range of criteria, including the project’s vision, potential benefits for the local area, potential partners and any relevant experience of delivering similar projects.
DECC has also announced winners of this year’s £10m RHPP social landlord competition, helping to get low carbon heating systems into the homes of thousands of social housing tenants.
BIS: Business Minister Norman Lamb has welcomed the progress made by payday lenders as they published newly revised Codes of Practice to increase transparency and better help vulnerable borrowers, but warned that they need to maintain their focus on protecting consumers and tackling bad practice.
The revised Codes of Practice were published by the 4 Trade Associations which represent over 90% of the payday & short-term loan industry. They follow on from the Government’s Response to the BIS Select Committee’s Report into Debt Management, when new commitments were agreed to help deliver increased protection for consumers.
DH: Patients could benefit from faster access to medicines such as pain relief & anti-inflammatories thanks to proposed new prescribing powers for advanced practitioner physiotherapists & podiatrists:
* Physiotherapists would be able to prescribe medicines for issues such as chronic pain & respiratory diseases like asthma. The opportunity to prescribe pain relief and other medicines would help many patients to respond more quickly to their treatment.
* Podiatrists who treat patients with a wide range of conditions including diabetic foot ulcers and arthritic disorders in the foot & ankle would be able to prescribe medication, if required, more promptly.
CLG: Baroness Newlove, the Government's Champion for Active, Safer Communities, recently announced the names of 10 areas across the country that will each be awarded small grants of up to £10,000 to test innovative ideas that will help reduce problem drinking and related antisocial behaviour, improve how communities work together and make real changes to their area.
DfT: The new 15 year Great Western franchise will see passengers benefit from new express trains, additional capacity, smart card ticketing and passenger satisfaction targets as part of proposals being put forward by Rail Minister Theresa Villiers.
CLG: Nearly 400 Town Teams are to win backing from a multi-million pound package of Government support to revive their high streets and make them the beating hearts of their communities, Local Government Minister Grant Shapps announced last week. The news comes as Shapps announced 15 new Portas Pilots, taking the total across the country to 27.
Mr Shapps issued a call to MPs from the 392 Town Teams not chosen, to come forward and sign a national pledge to become a Town Team Partner - enabling access to a package of support to their own town. The package of support is worth £5.5m nationwide.
EU News: EFSA has launched an open consultation on its draft scientific opinion on dietary reference values for energy. The Authority’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies is proposing average energy requirements for adults, infants & children, and pregnant & lactating women. Interested parties can submit written comments by 28 September 2012..
EU News: The European Ombudsman has invited individuals, NGOs, and other organisations active in the area of fundamental rights protection to submit comments in his ongoing inquiry concerning the EU Borders Agency, Frontex.
In March 2012, the Ombudsman asked Frontex a number of questions about the implementation of its fundamental rights obligations. Frontex replied in May 2012. Comments on Frontex's response can be submitted to the Ombudsman until 30 September 2012..
EU News: The European Commission has launched a public consultation (closes on 14 October 2012) seeking answers to questions on transparency, switching & certain aspects of internet traffic management, with a view to its commitment to preserve the open & neutral character of the Internet.
These questions have emerged as key issues in the ‘net neutrality’ debate that has taken place in Europe over the past years, including the recent findings of the Body of European Regulators of European Communications (BEREC).
EU News: The European Commission is seeking the views of governments, businesses, citizens about their experiences and EU possible responses to cyber incidents which cause disruption to essential Network and Information Systems (NIS), including the internet.
The Commission has launched this consultation (closes on 12 October 2012) to help it prepare a legislative proposal on network & information security, which will be an important element of the upcoming EU strategy on Cyber security. Feedback received will help the Commission draw up an approach to possible future risk management and security breach reporting requirements that would affect businesses in particular.
Press release & linksEU News: The Commission has launched an in-depth consultation (closes on 18 October 2012) on issues arising in the area of investment funds. The consultation builds on and is complementary to the European Securities and Markets Authority's (ESMA) guidelines on ETF (exchange-traded funds) and other UCITS issues of 25 July. The consultation raises a series of issues & policy options aimed at maintaining investor confidence in money market funds.
Press release & links
EU News: In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative (SAM), the European Commission has launched a review of its Regulation applying to small aid amounts - the so-called "de minimis" Regulation (No 1998/2006). Under this Regulation, aid measures below €200,000 are outside the scope of EU state aid control and therefore do not require prior Commission approval. Submissions can be made until 18 October 2012 and the EC will prepare a revised draft regulation by the end of 2013.
Press release & links
TfL: A consultation (closes on 28 September 2012) on new Road Safety Action Plan began last week which sets a new target of a 40% reduction in the number of people killed & seriously injured (KSIs) on London's roads by 2020 and outlines 70 proposed measures to improve the Capital's roads.
Press release & links
BIS: The Government has set out its proposals to enhance the
’s designs legal framework to make the system more accessible for businesses. The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth referred to the current complexities of the legal framework used by businesses to protect their designs, and the importance of having a proper understanding of the role of designs in the economy. This consultation (closes on 2 October 2012) sets out proposals to help streamline the system and seeks other suggestions for improving the law.
The Intellectual Property Office has also published new research into the importance of design to the economy and how businesses protect their work:
* The first report considers the use of the legal framework
* The second report considers design in the international supply chain
Press release ~ Consultation on the Reform of the UK Designs Legal Framework ~ The Development of Design Law - Past and Future ~ UK Design as a global industry
LC: In a new consultation (closes on 25 October 2012), the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission are seeking views on proposals to protect consumers from unfair terms hidden in small print. Consumers enter into multiple standard form contracts each year, as a routine part of daily life. Examples are utilities, mobile phones, financial services and gyms.
What at first appears to be a good price can quickly become an expensive burden when additional charges and hidden conditions start to mount up. Consumers can be surprised by unexpected charges or find themselves tied into lengthy contracts that no longer serve their purpose.
Press release & links
Defra: Defra is developing a new set of sustainable development indicators to make our progress towards a more sustainable future more transparent & easier for people to track. It is holding an informal consultation on the new measures (closes on 15 October 2012)
Press release & links ~ WWF comment ~ Related press release & links
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has proposed changes to the funding of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which will continue to provide important reassurance to consumers but could reduce the likelihood of interim levies and offer firms more certainty in the level of fees they pay.
This consultation paper (closes on 25 October 2012) puts forward a credible funding approach balancing the need for adequacy of funds with affordability for those contributing.
Press release & links
Defra: businesses will find it simpler & easier to demonstrate their sustainability performance to the public & investors under new guidance proposed by Environment Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach recently. Defra is consulting on guidelines to help businesses that want to demonstrate their corporate sustainability credentials do it in a clear and concise way. Consultation closes on 25 October 2012.
For the first time, guidance includes detailed advice on how firms can measure & report on their impact on wildlife and natural services such as clean air, clean water, food, timber, flood protection and welfare benefits.
Press release & links
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
NICE: NICE's latest quality standard on bacterial meningitis in children & young people can help GPs and other primary care professionals spot early signs & symptoms of the condition. Meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia, known collectively as meningococcal disease, remain a leading cause of mortality in early childhood causing death in around 1 in 10 cases.
This is despite the introduction of the meningitis C vaccine, which has reduced the incidence of meningococcal disease in recent years. Prompt diagnosis & treatment is critical, yet identifying children with meningococcal disease can be difficult.
NICE: Patients with blood clots can be now be offered rivaroxaban as an alternative to warfarin for the treatment of blood clots following latest guidance from NICE. Warfarin has been used to treat the condition in the past, but some patients find it inconvenient due to the careful monitoring, regular blood tests, and frequent clinic visits required to ensure the blood's clotting properties remain within acceptable limits.
NICE: From April 2013, councils in England will be taking on the role of improving the public health of their communities. To help councils with this new role, NICE has started developing a range of local government public health briefings, the first set of which were published last week - Tobacco, physical activity & workplace health
Improving public health is of increasing importance due to the rise in health inequalities and preventable disease. The guidance provides help for those working in local government through advice on which actions are most effective in improving health, and provide best value for money.
DECC: New guidance to help local authorities in England improve the energy efficiency of their residential housing has been published. The guidance, issued under the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA), asks local authorities to publish a report on their plans to achieve improved energy efficiency by 31 March 2013.
Local authorities will be required to identify practicable and cost-effective measures likely to result in significant energy reduction in all residential accommodation in their area.
PC&PE: The Home Affairs Select
Committee monitors the Border Agency on a 4-monthly basis
as the most effective means of scrutinising its work on behalf of Parliament.
It gives the Agency a series of key indicators and its
latest report covers the period December 2011 - March 2012.
DWP: The latest figures show that 55% of
new claimants who go through the Work Capability Assessment are found fit for
some form of work. The official statistics also show
that, for the latest period 20% could be capable of doing some work with the
right help & support and a further 26% of people will go directly into the
Support Group, receiving unconditional financial
STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities
Councilhas published its Annual Report and Accounts 2011 -
MoJ: The work HMP Ranby did to
train prisoners and help them to resettle back into the
community was good overall, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of
Prisons, but performance was undermined by some significant
weaknesses, some of which were outside its direct control.
DWP: Automatic enrolment will reverse the
slump in pension saving, with around half of British firms with no
pension provision choosing NEST for their workers, Pensions Minister Steve Webb
said recently as new research shows a drop of 15% in
employees’ pension saving.
DECC: The Department of Energy & Climate
Change has released 4 key publications regarding UK
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has
published its 5th annual report on the statutory
arrangements introduced as a result of the Shipman
enquiry on the safer management of controlled drugs.
General Reports and Other Publications
CIPD: Only 36% of workers trust their senior leaders and 58% of workers display signs of having adopted a ‘not bothered’ attitude to their work. That’s according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s latest quarterly Employee Outlook survey of more than 2,000 employees across the UK, which asks employees a number of questions to gauge their level of engagement in the work place and attitudes to working life.
Ofsted: A new method that will help to measure the happiness of children has been developed by the Children’s Rights Director for England. Through discussions with children in care and/or living away from home, Dr Roger Morgan has created a questionnaire based on the things that young people might say about themselves.
WWF: WWF-UK and BioRegional recently launched a new report Towards a One Planet Olympics Revisited that concludes that London 2012 has succeeded in being the most sustainable Games yet, but that failures have occurred in some significant areas. For example, the use of carbon footprint as a strategic tool was good; however, the failure to build a significant & visible renewable energy source was bad.
PC&PE: The proposals in the Government’s draft Energy Bill could impose unnecessary costs on consumers, lead to less competition and deter badly needed investment, according to MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee who have examined the draft legislation.
PC&PE: The Government should re-instate its programme of General Budget Support for Malawi, according to MPs on the International Development Committee.
PC&PE: In a report published last week, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said that the Gambling Act 2005 resulted in numerous inconsistencies and is not sufficiently evidence based. The Committee says more power should be devolved to local authorities—which have the local knowledge to assess their impact - with central regulation existing to ensure high standards of protection for the vulnerable, particularly children.
FSA: Almost 3 out of 4 people are prepared to take a chance with food safety when eating out, according to a survey of more than 2,000 people carried out for the Food Standards Agency. With the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games providing a host of opportunities to eat out and enjoy the food on offer in London and across the country, the Agency is reminding everyone to protect their health by doing what they can to ensure the food they eat is safe.
CSJ: A narrow focus on female victims of domestic abuse risks sidelining the nearly 3m children who will have been exposed to violence & cruelty in the home. A major new report from the Centre for Social Justice calls for a fundamental overhaul of government policies to tackle the substantial harm to children’s wellbeing. It highlights the scarring psychological impact of living with domestic abuse, which it says is just as significant as being physically abused.
A major failing in state-sanctioned measures to curb domestic abuse is the lack of priority given to the needs of children who suffer the trauma of living alongside domestic violence. Their physical & mental well-being and chances of doing well at school suffer from an abusive upbringing. In later life, they are also far more likely to become victims of domestic abuse or to become a perpetrator of such cruelty.
PC&PE: In a new report, the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) says the current Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) lacks adequate powers and resources; does not have appropriate membership for its function; and should be abolished.
Instead, the Committee says, Government should legislate to establish statutory ethics regulation with a code of conduct and enforceable statutory penalties, overseen by an independent ethics Commissioner. Statutory regulation would signify the importance that should be attached to ethical conduct in public office.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have called for immediate action to ensure enough young people study Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) subjects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Without this the Government risks failing to meet its objectives to drive economic growth through education and hi-tech industries as identified in its Plan for Growth.
PC&PE: The Freedom of Information Act is generally working well & its scope should not be diminished, although some concerns raised about its operation need to be addressed, according to MPs on the Justice Select Committee who have scrutinised the effectiveness of the legislation.
CC: The Competition Commission has published an order requiring local bus operators that manage bus stations to provide access to bus stations for rival operators on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. This means that the CC has now completed all its work following the 2-year investigation into the local bus industry.
NHS Confed: The Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum has published its report following a request from the Secretary of State for Health to look at how best the health outcomes of children in Britain could be improved. The Forum was composed of individuals with a wide range of expertise and a shared commitment to improving healthcare for children and young people.
Commenting on publication of the report, NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: "This is an important piece of work. The Forum's recommendations should be given careful consideration by the Government and all parts of the system working to improve the health of children and young people”.
IFS: When all primary school pupils in Newham & Durham were offered free school meals, attainment levels rose. Pupils in these areas made between 4 and 8 weeks more progress over a 2 year period than similar pupils in other areas. That is the main finding of new research published by a consortium comprising the Institute for Fiscal Studies, NatCen Social Research and Bryson Purdon Social Research.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: The Scottish Government intend to legislate to allow same sex marriage, however ‘legislation will be accompanied by important protections for freedom of speech & religion’. As indicated in the consultation, no religious body will be compelled to conduct same sex marriages - protection for religious bodies who do not wish to conduct same sex marriages already exists under UK equality law.
Where a body does decide to conduct same sex marriages, ScotGov also intends - again, in line with the view expressed in the consultation - to protect individual celebrants who consider such ceremonies to be contrary to their faith.
To give certainty around this protection, ScotGov consider that an amendment to the UK Equality Act will be required. They will work with the UK Government to secure agreement to such an amendment before the formal introduction of a Bill to the Scottish Parliament and with a view to it being in place before the Bill comes into force. As indicated in the consultation, a draft Bill will be published for consultation later in the year.
CBI: Government proposals to move towards ‘opt-out’ class actions for consumers could spark a new litigation industry around competition law and deter inward investment & growth, the CBI said last week. The CBI says that it is absolutely right that businesses that have caused significant loss to consumers should be required to provide compensation.
However, this should be done through Alternative Dispute Resolution, which offers a quicker, cheaper form of redress and better outcomes for consumers, rather than the “big stick” approach of opt-out class actions.
HMT: The Government has issued a joint statement with the governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States, announcing the publication of the Model Intergovernmental Agreement to Improve Tax Compliance and to Implement FATCA. This is a key step towards delivering on the commitment to an intergovernmental approach to implementing the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) made by the same countries in their joint statement published on 8 February 2012.
As set out in the 8 February joint statement, the UK Government has aimed to address the legal barriers to complying with FATCA, ensure the burdens imposed on financial institutions are proportionate to the goal of combating tax evasion and establish a reciprocal approach to FATCA implementation.
ICO: Southampton City Council has been ordered to stop the mandatory recording of passengers’ & drivers’ conversations in the city’s taxis, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced last week. Since August 2009, the council has required all taxis & private hire vehicles to install CCTV equipment to constantly record images and the conversations of both drivers & passengers.
The ICO has ruled the council’s policy breaches the Data Protection Act, concluding that the recording of all conversations is disproportionate given the very low number of incidents occurring compared to the number of trouble free taxi journeys. An enforcement notice has been issued to the council, who now have until 1 November 2912 to comply.
BIS: The Government has recognised the need to protect children from inappropriate content and has been working with industry representatives ahead of new requirements from 30 July 2012 when the age rating of games aimed at those aged 12 or over will become mandatory.
In future producers will submit all of their video games for Pan European Game Information (PEGI) age classifications from the Video Standards Council which is designated as the new games rating authority. Retailers are working with local & national regulators to ensure everyone understands the new requirements for video games and that staff are fully trained.
OFT: Following OFT action, GB Oils Limited, the largest supplier of heating oil in the country, has changed its domestic heating oil contracts ensuring quoted prices do not increase from the time an order is made until the customer is billed on delivery.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has welcomed the Court of Appeal decision to uphold the decision to require BAA to sell Stansted Airport.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has approved funding for 202 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the EU's environment fund. The projects cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, environmental policy, climate change and information & communication on environmental issues.
PC&PE: Europe should set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% on 1990 levels by 2020 in order to demonstrate political leadership in the run up to UN climate talks in 2015, when political agreement could be reached on a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol. That is the verdict of the Energy and Climate Change Committee who have published a report looking at the future of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
EU News: In 2011, EU Customs detained almost 115m products suspected of violating intellectual property rights (IPR) compared to 103m in 2010. The number of intercepted cases increased by 15% compared to 2010 according to the Commission's annual report on customs actions to enforce IPR.
PC&PE: European Commission moratorium on desinewed meat was "heavy-handed & disproportionate", say MPs and they have called on the UK Government to make "every possible effort" to reverse the Commission's decision, which will have serious impacts on the UK's food industry and for consumers.
PC&PE: A new inquiry into reform of the EU banking sector was announced last week by the House of Lords EU Sub Committee responsible for looking into economic & financial affairs. The Committee has issued a call for evidence.
EU News: In the recent LIBOR scandal, serious concerns have been raised about false submissions of banks' estimated interbank lending rates. Any actual or attempted manipulation of such key benchmarks can have a serious impact on market integrity, and could result in significant losses to consumers and investors, or distort the real economy.
The European Commission has acted to address this kind of market manipulation, by adopting amendments to the proposals for a Regulation and a Directive on insider dealing & market manipulation, including criminal sanctions, initially tabled on 20 October 2011. The amendments will clearly prohibit the manipulation of benchmarks, including LIBOR & EURIBOR, and make such manipulation a criminal offence.
EU News: The European Commission initiated in mid-April the review of the auction time profile of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and proposed last week a Decision to clarify the provisions of the EU ETS Directive on the timing of auctions of emission allowances.
EU News: New EU rules to reduce legal headaches when a family member with property in another EU country passes away have been published in the Official Journal. This means that they are becoming EU law. The new regulation on cross-border successions, proposed by the EC will make it easier for European citizens to handle the legal side of an international will or succession.
EU News: GPS data can now be obtained via the internet in addition to access via the existing satellite signal. Last week saw the launch of the European Data Access Service (EDAS) - a new commercial service of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) – designed to make satellite navigation in Europe more reliable and thus more effective for use in commercial applications in difficult surroundings.
EDAS will support new services in numerous sectors including high-precision fertiliser spraying, automatic road-tolling, fleet management, inland waterway navigation, dangerous goods transportation or accurate area measurement. Access to GPS data will also be possible via hand-held devices, using wireless communication from added value service providers.
EU News: EFSA has launched an open consultation on its draft scientific opinion on dietary reference values for energy. Interested parties can submit written comments by 28 September 2012 – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
EU News: The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has invited individuals, NGOs, and other organisations active in the area of fundamental rights protection to submit comments in his ongoing inquiry concerning the EU Borders Agency, Frontex until 30 September 2012 – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
EU News: The EC has launched a consultation (closes on 14 October 2012) seeking answers to questions on transparency, switching & certain aspects of internet traffic management, with a view to its commitment to preserve the open & neutral character of the Internet – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
EU News: The EC is seeking the views of governments, businesses, citizens about their experiences and EU possible responses to cyber incidents which cause disruption to essential Network and Information Systems (NIS), including the internet.
The EC has launched a consultation (closes on 12 October 2012) to help it prepare a legislative proposal on network & information security, which will be an important element of the upcoming EU strategy on Cyber security – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
EU News: The Commission has launched an in-depth consultation (closes on 18 October 2012) on issues arising in the area of investment funds – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
EU News: In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative (SAM), the European Commission has launched a review (closes on 18 October 2012) of its Regulation applying to small aid amounts - the so-called "de minimis" Regulation (No 1998/2006) – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DUK: Diabetes UK have produced 2 new information leaflets for people recently diagnosed with diabetes, and those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Both of the new leaflets are designed to give straightforward & reliable information, and tell you where to get help & support when you need it.
BIG: People struggling under a heavy load of severe problems - homelessness, re-offending, substance misuse & mental ill-health - are being given help to improve their lives through an investment of up to £100m from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG). BIG’s funding will help services come together to ensure they provide tailored support for people with multiple & complex needs who live chaotic lives.
CRUK: Bowel cancer patients whose disease was found through screening have a better chance of beating their disease than those diagnosed after developing symptoms, new research shows. The study also adds to evidence that the test used in bowel screening – which looks for blood in stool samples - is better at finding bowel cancers in men, and in the lower part of the bowel.
The study findings, based on north-east England, support Cancer Research UK’s calls to ensure the bowel screening programmes are as effective as possible. This could be done by including a better stool blood test and implementing the Flexi-Scope bowel screening test swiftly.
CLG: Mr Stunell has written to every local authority Leader in the country, reminding them of the expertise & excellence that the voluntary sector can bring in delivering services. Last year the Government published Best Value Guidance which set out the manner in which councils should work with the voluntary sector.
Compact Voice and the Department for Communities & Local Government have now also jointly produced a briefing note which provides practical views on how the guidance can be best used to ensure effective partnerships.
DWP: Since last week, disabled grassroots organisations in Scotland & Wales - which can make a real difference to the everyday lives of disabled people on the ground - are able to access a £3m fund.
Disabled Peoples User Led Organisations (DPULOs) run by & for disabled people, often provide support & services alongside those provided by the public sector. Drawing on their own first hand experience of disability, they have clear ideas about what works and what doesn’t.
CO: Start-up social ventures will now be able to access intensive support through the new £10m Social Incubator Fund, which was launched recently. Big Society Capital, which was launched in April 2012, provides significantly improved access to capital for more established social ventures.
The Social Incubator Fund will strengthen the growing social investment market by providing start-ups with intensive support to enable them to take advantage of social investment opportunities so they better serve communities and people most in need. To help grow the market and support smaller organisations the Government has introduced the Investment Readiness Programme to support social ventures. The deadline for applications is on 21 September 2012..
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: As part of the Focus on Enforcement campaign, the Government is urging companies, particularly SMEs to feed in their experiences of fire safety enforcement by fire safety officers who visit premises to ensure compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (by 31 August 2012). The Government is also interested to hear where companies get advice on fire safety compliance.
CLG: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles recently highlighted government proposals to scrap restrictions that put off start-up businesses from temporarily using empty high street shops that can help attract shoppers back to more family friendly town centres. Temporary or 'pop-up' shops often utilise vacant high street premises until a permanent tenant can be found.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority has announced that 7 additional banks have volunteered to review their sales of interest rate hedging products to SMEs. Allied Irish Bank (UK), Bank of Ireland, Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks (part of the National Australia Group (Europe)), Co-operative Bank, Northern Bank and Santander UK have confirmed that they will participate in the review of their sales of these products and the redress exercise, on the same basis as those larger banks.
TUC: A recent TUC survey reveals that despite laws which say employers must give their staff personal protective equipment (PPE) free of charge, more than 1 in 5 workers are being forced to pay for it out of their own pocket. 8.9% were made to pay for any replacement equipment if their original PPE was damaged.
It is illegal for an employer to charge for any safety equipment. The law also says that every employer has to ensure that any PPE provided to their employees is maintained (including replaced or cleaned as appropriate) in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
DWP: Young disabled people are set to benefit from a new wage incentive which was launched recently by the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller. Employers can now claim a payment of up to £2,275 – when they recruit a young disabled person through Work Choice, a specialist programme that gives severely disabled people tailored employment support.
STFC: Scientists at The University of Manchester and the SuperSTEM facility at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory have discovered that the ‘miracle material’, graphene, undergoes a self repairing process to mend holes. This research could hold the key in the quest to realise graphene's huge potential for use in fields from electronics to medicine.
STFC: Emerald, the new supercomputer launched at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on 3 July 2012, is playing a vital role in helping scientists from the University of Bristol understand why antiviral drugs are becoming less effective.
DECC: Edward Davey has launched the new collective switching scheme Cornwall Together, which will enable people across Cornwall to join together as a single powerful unit to negotiate cheaper energy bills - delivering Cornish households and businesses up to an estimated £3.7m worth of savings.
Building on the Cornwall Together initiative, Ed Davey has written to LA Chief Executives to encourage them to consider how they might lead & facilitate community energy switching and bulk buying schemes.
CLG: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles recently announced a £3.5m Government investment for manufacturing innovation at the opening of a new High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute in Essex. The new Institute has been created in partnership with the Centre for Engineering & Manufacturing Excellence and Ford Britain, who are investing a further £1.44m, and is located in a manufacturing heartland a short distance from the legendary Dagenham car factory.
The Institute will develop new & innovative ways to improve manufacturing techniques & increase productivity and is expected to generate £80m to the local economy.
GPS: Customers can now access the Wider Public Sector Office Supplies (RM781) framework, through lots 1 & 2, on a direct award basis for a range of confidential material collection & destruction services.
BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable has opened a new exhibition at Science Museum, London to show young people the rewarding career opportunities available in British manufacturing. The exhibition (closes 9 September 2012) is the culmination of the Government’s Make it in Great Britain campaign and will feature a mix of displays from 39 businesses of all sizes including iconic names like McLaren, Mars, BAE and Rolls Royce.
Showcasing alongside the businesses are the finalists of the Make it in Great Britain Challenge – a competition to seek out the next big pre-market products or ideas from across the UK. These include a new technology which could offer relief to tinnitus sufferers and an eco-friendly alternative to everyday cement that could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90%.
STFC: STFC Public Engagement Funding Schemes - New closing dates announced.
* The closing date for the 2012B round of Small Awards is the 11 October 2012
* The closing date for the 2012 round of Large Awards is 08 November 2012.
* Naked Scientists Podcasts
* New Cosmic Ray Broadsheet
* York Science and Innovation Grand Tour
* Public Engagement Large Award 2011 Winners
And much more
RoSPA: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) will run a FREE health & safety clinic offering help & advice at the UK’s largest annual gathering for leisure professionals. The clinic will take place from Tuesday, 18 – 20 September 2012 in the Attractions Industry Lounge at the NEC in Birmingham as part of Leisure Industry Week (LIW).
RoSPA’s approach to leisure safety is that it should be “as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible” and specialists will be on hand to offer advice and information to visitors.
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