In the News
BIS: Has Coalition bartering nullified the proposals of the Beecroft report? - New steps to give firms more flexibility & confidence in managing their workforce and to reduce employment law red tape were announced last week by Business Secretary Vince Cable. They are most likely to benefit small businesses. The package comes in response to calls from business to simplify and speed up the process of ending the employment relationship when it breaks down, for the benefit of both employers and employees.
The Government also responded formally to the call for evidence on proposals for compensated no fault dismissal for micro-firms. Based on the evidence presented by business the Government will not be taking forward the proposal.
Consultations have been launched on (closing on 23 Nov 2012):
* Settlement agreements & capping the level of unfair dismissal claims
* Proposals to streamline employment tribunals, following on from Justice Underhill's review
DfE: Revaluing the ‘currency’ of school exams is essential for the sake of our children’s & country’s future - Education Secretary Michael Gove has made an announcement on the reform of Key Stage 4 exams. The consultation on the changes closes on 10 December 2012.
CO: Sadly ‘adult relationship problems’ are not limited to those considered as ‘adults’ - Victims of domestic violence & abuse aged 16 & 17 will be recognised under a new cross-government definition announced last week. The extension of the definition of domestic violence to include people under 18 is the latest move by the Government to tackle domestic violence. The decision follows a Government consultation which saw representatives from the police, voluntary organisations and local authorities call overwhelmingly for this change.
This follows the Government’s successful Teenage Relationship Abuse Campaigns and is backed up by the British Crime Survey 2009/10 which found that 16-19-year-olds were the group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner. 12.7% of women and 6.2% of men in this age group suffer abuse, compared to 7% of women and 5% of men in older groups. The new definition will be implemented by March 2013.
PC&PE: There is nothing ‘beautiful’ about this kind of behaviour at a football game - In a report published last week, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said that ‘football authorities at all levels of the game, supporters' and players' groups need to take responsibility for pro-actively tackling all forms of discrimination, including racism, but it is the Football Association that must take the lead and set a strong example for others to follow’.
The atmosphere experienced by those attending football matches has changed hugely since the 1970s & 80s when racial and other forms of abuse were common. Match attendance has become much more of a family-friendly activity and clubs continue to introduce measures to try to improve the standards of behaviour at matches. However, there remain significant problems ranging from homophobic abuse to what is often described as ‘laddish behaviour’ on the terraces.
Transparent & consistent methods for reporting criminal behaviour (including racism) are still lacking, in particular at grass roots level. There is also a clear need to encourage more candidates from ethnic minorities to train as coaches & referees to ensure that clubs and boards can select from a more diverse pool of recruits from within the football pyramid.
DWP: The Paralympics amply illustrated the potential - Last December the Government invited disabled people to help shape a new cross-government disability strategy. The ‘Fulfilling Potential, the Discussions So Far’, published last week, summarises the issues raised and shows how actions are already being taken across Government to address many of the issues.
The government have also published ‘Fulfilling Potential, Next Steps’ which:
* sets out the vision & principles
* outlines further public sector reforms
It also announces a new disability action alliance, involving organisations from across the private, public and voluntary & community sectors. Convened by Disability Rights UK and supported by the Office for Disability Issues, the alliance will consider thousands of suggestions put forward by disabled people earlier this year as part of the ‘Fulfilling Potential’ discussion.
MoD: Please don’t overload Santa’s sleigh! - With the Christmas countdown now underway, the MoD is reiterating its plea to the general public NOT to send unsolicited gifts & packages to members of the Armed Forces. Whilst undoubtedly well-intentioned, such generosity has unintended consequences, which can create disappointment & inconvenience by preventing messages from family & friends being delivered.
There are many different ways in which people in the UK can thank forces deployed overseas for their work & commitment. Helpful advice and a list of recommended Service charities which accept public donations to assist deployed personnel and their families back at home can be found in the full press release.
This includes the MOD Operations Welfare Fund. Priority for spending from the fund is set by commanders in theatre for those items which have the most impact in enhancing the morale of their personnel and any money donated to this fund enables commanding officers on the ground to bid for items which their men & women have asked for. Examples of items purchased through the fund are Wii handsets, portable DVD players, games and table tennis tables.
NICE: A NICE way to boost your career - Health & social care professionals can now apply for Fellowships & Scholarships provided by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). As well as helping NICE shape its guidance, being appointed a Fellow or Scholar can support an individual's professional development. NICE will award 10 Fellowships and 10 Scholarships. Completed applications must be submitted to NICE by 5pm on Friday 9 November 2012.
STFC: Help our MPs to be better informed - Applications for the 2013 joint STFC-POST scheme are invited. The Scheme provides an opportunity for a postgraduate to be seconded to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) to assist in providing objective briefing material for MPs & Peers for a 3 month period.
The scheme is for Science and Technology Facilities Council funded postgraduate students in their 2nd or 3rd years at the time of the secondment. The deadline for applications is 5 November 2012.
EU News: Will this provide the excuse for a Tory / UKIP deal? - A strong economic & monetary union in the future will require treaty changes, but for the short term, says a draft report on establishing a genuine EMU, presented to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee last week. The text also urges the European Commission to present a package of legislative proposals soon. The draft report calls for various long-term measures to strengthen the EMU, such as common debt issuance, tax coordination, a stronger economic and monetary affairs Commissioner, and institutional changes.
Case study: Police National Legal Database (PNLD) Co-innovation – Delivering more for less - The Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, based at West Yorkshire Police is a not for profit organisation, providing a range of commercial services to both the public service and the general public.
PNLD’s 'Ask the Police' web site provides consistent answers to around 750 of the public's most frequently asked policing questions; it is available both on a free to access, public facing website and there is also a separate version within the Criminal Justice Extranet to assist Police officers and staff working in a customer contact role. The latest website, 'Ask the Commissioner' follows this concept and provides information about the coming elections on 15 November 2012 and the future role of Police and Crime Commissioners.
This paper highlights PNLD’s recent collaboration with their chosen technology partner, a relationship predicated on a co-innovative approach to delivering new services, where the emphasis is on business outcomes rather than product or licence sales.
Click here to view and download the full PNLD paper.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has appointed VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, as their management agent for the promotion & distribution of the Visitor Oyster card internationally. VisitBritain will act as the single point of contact for all distribution partners and for the sale of the highly popular transport smartcard to trade partners outside of London.
DUK: Alert for diabetics - The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a drug alert for Hypurin Porcine Isophane insulin cartridges after a packaging error came to light (affected carton bears the batch number PL40147). The issue occurred when a carton for cartridges of short-acting Hypurin Porcine Neutral Insulin 100IU/ml got into the production line for the intermediate-acting Hypurin Porcine Isophane Insulin 100 IU/ml.
ScotGov: 12 patients have been cured of a life threatening complication of type 1 diabetes thanks to an innovative Scottish transplant programme. 18 months on from the first operation, the Scottish National Pancreatic Islet Transplant Programme has carried out 18 islet cell infusions, and improved the lives of 12 patients.
The process involves islets extracted from a deceased donor’s pancreas being injected into the liver of patients with type 1 diabetes. This has been shown to be an effective treatment for some people with type 1 diabetes who have problems recognising when their blood sugar becomes dangerously low. All of these patients are now able to recognise when their blood sugar level drops and rarely experience low levels.
STFC: Scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) have discovered why paint on a Van Gogh that was originally yellow, has turned an orangey-grey colour. ESRF, which is near Grenoble, is part-funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council.
In a bid to protect the valuable work, it was varnished shortly after Van Gogh died in 1890. However, scientists have characterised a previously unknown degradation process, caused by the varnish, which is responsible for the discolouration of the yellow pigment.
ACE: As part of Arts Council England's £235m Capital investment programme, arts & culture organisations can now apply for grants between £100,000 and £499,999 to improve their existing arts facilities. By investing in capital projects large & small, ACE hope to support the sector to become more resilient & sustainable, as outlined in their 10-year vision.
For further information about eligibility, the application process and how funding decisions will be made, please visit their Small capital grants pages. The deadline to apply to the first round of funding is 10am, Tuesday 30 October 2012..
HPA: Wild food enthusiasts are being urged to take extra care when foraging for mushrooms because of the risk of picking toxic varieties, says the Health Protection Agency's poisons experts. Dozens of people seek medical advice each year after eating toxic varieties of wild mushroom which they have picked themselves.
Some varieties which grow wild in the UK are so poisonous that they can be fatal if eaten. Foragers should remember that the poisons in some of the most dangerous wild mushrooms are generally not destroyed by cooking.
NE: Wildlife charity Pond Conservation has announced, with Natural England and other partners, Phase 2 in its national Million Ponds Project, which aims to create 30,000 clean water ponds over the next 7 years, up to 2020.
CAB: Citizens Advice disappointed at Co-op's decision to withdraw basic bank accounts from undischarged bankrupts.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is advising people travelling to, or recently returned from, the Czech Republicto steer clear of locally-produced hard spirits. This follows a recent spate of alcohol-related cases of methanol poisoning in the country, including 19 deaths.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
WAG: An independent report (Towards a Welsh Planning Act: Ensuring the Planning System Delivers) setting out how the planning system in Wales could be improved has been published by the Welsh Government. The report will be debated in Plenary on 25 September 2012.
The Welsh Government has also published 2 related reports:
* Public attitudes towards the planning system in Wales
* A new approach to managing development in Wales
WAG: A Welsh Government campaign is being launched this week to encourage more companies & organisations across Wales to introduce Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) principles into their day-to-day operations in order to deliver sustainable business, community and environmental benefits.
The launch coincides with the publication of the Welsh Government CSR framework document setting out the Government’s commitment to embed the principles into its decision making & operational processes. Anchor companies across Wales will be holding a series of half day events this autumn in partnership with the Welsh Government to take the message to local businesses, third sector organisations and students.
DWP: More people suffering from cancer will get the unconditional help they need under new proposals published last week. The changes will mean hundreds more people a year who are awaiting, receiving, or recovering from any form of chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer will be placed in the Support Group for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), where they will get the long term support they need while unable to work.
The simpler process will mean all types of cancer treatment are seen as having the potential to be equally as debilitating, rather than the current rules which distinguish between different forms of treatment.
DfT: Earlier this year the Department for Transport launched a consultation paper setting out options for how they should devolve funding & prioritisation of local major transport schemes following this Spending Review period. A Ministerial statement has now been published.
ScotGov: Planning Minister Derek Mackay has updated parliament on progress towards planning reform, and outlined a major review of Scottish Planning Policy and the programme for delivery of Scotland’s third National Planning Framework.
He has also announced a programme of engagement on the National Planning Framework (NPF)– which will set priorities for national development over the next 20 to 30 years – as well as a review of Scottish Planning Policy, to spell out how that vision will be delivered.
HMT: The Government’s plans to ‘transform the powers & levers available to local leaders to deliver growth and jobs in their communities’ were confirmed recently with the signature of agreements by leaders of the 8 cities. The city deals are expected to create up to 175,000 new jobs and 37,000 new apprentices across the 8 areas which include; Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham & Sheffield.
HMT: A consultation on what tools the new Financial Policy Committee should have in order to help ensure future financial stability was launched last week. The consultation, entitled The Financial Services Bill: the Financial Policy Committee’s macro-prudential tools, sets out the proposed tools that it will be able to use to address systemic risks to the UK financial system.
The consultation is based on the recommendations made to the Government by the interim Financial Policy Committee. Responses are requested by 11 December 2012..
DfE: The Government is seeking views on measures that aim to allow foster carers to make everyday decisions about the children they look after and cut unnecessary bureaucracy in the approval process to encourage more people to come forward to foster. They also set out to reduce the time it takes to adopt & make the whole process more user-friendly. Consultation closes on 7 December 2012.
WAG: A consultation has begun on proposals to improve services to children & young people at risk of entering, or who are already in, the youth justice system. The Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant has published a Green Paper exploring options to improve youth justice provision in Wales including whether there is a need for legislation. Consultation closes on 11 December 2012..
DECC: A new way to measure fuel poverty in England is being proposed by the Government following the independent review on this issue by Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics (LSE) published in March 2012. Ensuring more accurate measurement will help to design effective solutions to fuel poverty, allowing the resources available to be targeted where they are needed most.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is proposing to adopt a new definition based on the overall framework suggested by Hills in his review. This new proposed definition includes dual indicators separating the extent of the issue (the number of people affected) from its depth (how badly people are affected) as a way to measure the problem. The consultation closes on 30 November 2012..
DECC will publish its decisions following the consultation early in 2013, alongside an updated fuel poverty strategy to ensure resources are being used in the best possible way.
BIS: Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon has published a consultation on implementing European Union (EU) legislation to combat the problem of late payment to British businesses. The UK was one of the first countries to introduce late payment legislation and is already seen as an exemplar across Europe. Implementing the EU Directive will therefore create a level playing field for UK businesses trading with other businesses & public authorities in all Member States.
The Government is already working alongside industry bodies in the UK to encourage more businesses to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code which encourages good practice. Over 1,100 businesses have already signed up to the Code. The consultation closes on 19 October 2012..
WAG: The Minister with responsibility for Transport, Carl Sargeant, has proposed new targets for casualty reduction as part of a ‘vision zero’ Road Safety Delivery Plan consultation (the final Plan is anticipated to be published in early 2013. The consultation will include specific targets for motorcyclists & young people – the 2 most vulnerable road users groups and will set out the Welsh Government’s approach to road safety until 2020.
In 2011 motorcyclists accounted for 1% of road traffic in Wales but 39% of those killed & seriously injured, whilst young people made up 11% of driving licence holders but 23% of casualties. The consultation will end on 13 December 2012..
EU News: The future of mobility in our cities was discussed last week at a conference where the European Commission also announced the launch of a public consultation, giving citizens and all interested parties the opportunity to contribute to the future development of the EU's urban transport policy. Consultation closes on 10 December 2012..
See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc’ section for more information.
DfE: On 17 September 2012, Education Secretary Michael Gove made an announcement on the reform of Key Stage 4 exams. The consultation on the changes closes on 10 December 2012..
See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
ICO: A report released last week aims to help schools ensure they are handling pupils’ personal information in-line with the law. The report has been written by the Information Commissioner’s Office, and gives practical advice on how to comply with the Data Protection Act.
It was prompted by a survey of 400 schools across 9 local authority areas that showed that whilst awareness of data protection laws was generally good, schools need to pay more attention to complying with data protection law.
LGA: Councils will now be able to gauge their residents' perception of their local area, crime & community cohesion and compare satisfaction rates directly with other local authorities, thanks to new guidance. The Local Government Association have launched ‘Are you being served?', a guidance document containing a standard set of resident satisfaction questions and outlining the steps that should be taken to ensure the results can be compared with those of other local authorities.
The guidance is designed to suit local circumstances and minimise the cost to councils of collecting the data. It does this by allowing councils to use only those questions that are of interest locally, and fit these questions in with existing survey plans.
NICE: Taking medicines such as painkillers over a prolonged period of time to relieve headaches can actually make symptoms worse, according to latest guidelines from NICE. Headaches are one of the most common complaints presented to GPs & neurologists, with more than 10m people in the UK experiencing them frequently or at regular intervals.
NICE's first clinical guideline on headaches says GP and other healthcare professionals should consider ‘medication overuse headaches' as a possible cause for worsening symptoms among patients who have been taking such drugs for three months or more. It defines medication overuse headaches as when certain drugs are taken up to 15 days per month for three months or more.
NAO: The National Offender Management Service, an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Justice, faces substantial financial & operational challenges, including a vulnerability to unexpected changes in the prison population, and will find it more difficult to meet its savings targets following decisions to drop some sentencing reforms designed to reduce the size of the prison population.
TUC: Many of the recent increases in women's employment levels have been in self-employment & involuntary part-time work, which pose a threat to their pay & job security, according to the TUC's latest economic report. The report, published to coincide with a TUC seminar on women's work & benefits at its headquarters in London last week, looks at male & female employment trends since the recession.
AC: NHS finances are healthy overall, but a growing number of organisations are in deficit, a new Audit Commission report says. NHS financial year 2011/12, finds that primary care trusts (PCTs), strategic health authorities and NHS trusts reported a combined under-spend & surplus of £1.6bn in 2011/12. Most NHS trusts reported an improved financial position in 2011/12.
However, the number of NHS trusts & foundation trusts in deficit increased from 13 in 2010/11 to 31 in 2011/12. 32 NHS trusts reported a reduced surplus compared to 2010/11 and a further 7 deteriorated to the point of reporting a deficit. The report shows stark differences in health finances around the country, with the majority of NHS trusts in deficit located in London and the south-east.
Monitor: Monitor has placed 11 foundation trusts in significant breach of their terms of authorisation on financial grounds. These decisions were taken & announced at various points over the last 3 years. The most recent was Derby Hospitals in January 2012.
These challenged trusts represent less than 1 in 10 of the 144 trusts with foundation status, which gives them greater freedom to run their own affairs and respond to local demand. Since the first foundation trusts were created 8 years ago, the sector has expanded and now comprises about two-thirds of all NHS-funded secondary care providers, responsible for about 1,000 hospitals. The Government wants the remaining 98 NHS trusts to achieve foundation status.
BIS: The UK is ranked 12th (down from 7th last year) out of 144 countries included in the Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report, released last week by the Fraser Institute in conjunction with the Institute of Economic Affairs.
CO: UK government team is to sell its expertise worldwide after saving the UK taxpayer £ms. The Nudge Unit which develops ways to improve public services through individual decision-making has identified public savings of at least £300m since its launch in 2010.
The methods of the unit, which is formally known as the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), have sparked interest from foreign governments & organisations interested in adopting its cost effective techniques. The BIT will now be able to provide services to other governments & bodies, on a charge-for basis, where there is a clear social purpose. The latest BIT annual update is now available.
ONS: Last week the Office for National Statistics published the article ‘Measuring National Well-being: Personal finance’ as part of the series analysing the domains selected to measure national well-being. It shows that after taking account of prices inflation the median income for a household in the UK had fallen from £373 per week in 2009/10 to £359 per week in 2010/11. Increases in inflation have outweighed the rise in income, with income buying less due to higher prices, resulting in households being squeezed financially.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) is set to publish regular reports on customer complaints (and steps being taken to address them) as part of its drive to become a more transparent & responsive organisation. The first report has just been published.
General Reports and Other Publications
DCMS: UK film contributes more than £4.6bn to UK GDP and more than £1.3bn to the Exchequer, an independent report has shown. The Economic Impact of the UK Film Industry, published by Oxford Economics, shows the industry’s growth outstrips the UK economy as a whole and suggests the overall picture is one of continued long-term growth.
PC&PE: A report by the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee says the UK & Welsh Governments must work together and use all means available to bring broadband services in Wales up to speed with the rest of the UK, and eradicate broadband ‘slow spots’’ & ‘notspots’ as a matter of urgency.
Both Governments should consider promoting mobile & satellite technologies, particularly in remote areas of Wales in order to deliver this and not rely solely on rolling out fibre optic cabling. The Committee says Government must investigate all possible options to ensure broadband service reaches everyone.
nef: Research published recently by the New Economics Foundation (nef) finds that restoring European fish stocks could generate huge returns on investment. The Return on Investment (ROI) of restoring fish stocks is 148% by 2023. By 2052 the returns are £14 for every £1 invested.
Years of mismanagement have left the majority of EU fish stocks overfished. The report, No Catch Investment, from nef has calculated the costs of restoring fish stocks and found they are far outweighed by the economic benefits in the short & long term. Most overfished stocks could be fully restored within 5 years.
ScotGov: Richard Lochhead has labelled reports that wrongly imply fish stocks are collapsing ‘as a distraction from Scottish efforts to fish sustainably’. Recent reports have claimed there are only 100 mature cod left in the North Sea – however scientific research estimates there are 21m mature fish in the North Sea cod spawning stock.
IoE: An under-valued network of employer-led training organisations established almost 50 years ago could help to remedy the serious skills gaps & shortages that are hampering the UK's economic recovery. This is the conclusion of an independent Commission of Inquiry into the role of Group Training Associations (GTAs) chaired by Professor Lorna Unwin of the Institute of Education.
CBI: Businesses are concerned that critical infrastructure improvements are not happening quickly enough and want to see urgent Government delivery on the ground. That is the main finding of the new CBI/KPMG infrastructure survey, Better Connected, Better Business, published last week.
NAO: A report released by the National Audit Office has welcomed steps taken by the Department for International Development to improve transparency over how aid it distributes via multilateral organisations is spent. The report found that the review is a significant step towards the Department being able to improve the value for money from its spending through these organisations which totalled £3.6bn in 2011-12.
CH: London is likely to remain a complementary rather than central player in the emerging renminbi (RMB) market, according to a new paper from Chatham House. Connecting Dots of China’s RMB Strategy: London and Hong Kong, says that although financial centres such as London & Singapore are essential to China’s strategy of internationalizing its currency, the expansion of the offshore RMB market remains contingent upon politics in Beijing around capital account liberalization.
As a result, for the time being London will struggle to expand the RMB business as quickly as Hong Kong, which benefits from being part of China.
PC&PE: A report by the Work and Pensions Committee concludes that the Government’s Youth Contract is a good start in attempting to tackle youth unemployment but that, on its own, it will be insufficient, given the scale of the current problem.
PC&PE: Concerns exist about the MoD’s capacity to manage the risk created by the capability gap in maritime surveillance and about its ability to react to demand in the short and medium term, says the Defence Committee in its report entitled ‘Future Maritime Surveillance’.
The Committee has serious concerns following the decision in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) programme.
The UK now has no current or planned sovereign MPA capability (i.e. a capability that could be operated independently) and the MoD has acknowledged that the resultant capability gap cannot be completely covered by an existing single asset or collection of assets.
HMIC: Restorative justice is being used effectively in all areas of the criminal justice system – but patchy take-up & inconsistent application mean that not all victims, offenders and communities are able to access the evidenced benefits it offers, found a report published by the Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorates.
TWF: The gap between successful & struggling regions of the UK is set to widen, with the poorest communities experiencing further economic decline unless the government takes more effective action to rebalance the economy. This is according to a report published recently by The Work Foundation.
Drawing on an analysis of previous schemes, People or Place? Urban policy in the age of austerity also concludes that without adequate funding or formal powers, Local Enterprise Partnerships - the government’s flagship measure for rebalancing the economy - will be significantly less effective than previous schemes.
PC&PE: In a report on Protecting the Arctic, the Environmental Audit Committee calls for a halt on oil drilling until 5 conditions are met:
PX: The government’s plans to digitise public services could prevent 5.4m older people – over half of all people aged 65 or above - from accessing vital services, such as their state pension. A new report by think tank Policy Exchange – Simple things, done well – notes that:
* 4 out of 10 people aged 65 or over do not have access to the internet at home
* 5.4m have never used the internet with two thirds citing a lack of interest in or need for the internet as their main reason for being offline
* Only 5% of those aged 65 or above own a smartphone compared to nearly three quarters of 16-24 year olds
It recommends setting up a UK wide network of ‘silver sidekicks’ – older, tech savvy people - who would be paid to go into peoples’ homes & community centres to teach them how to use the internet to make digital transactions such as renewing a driving licence or paying a utility bill.
CIPD: 6 in 10 employers don’t offer any routes into their organisation for non-graduates. That’s according to new research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), launched recently at a DWP Employer Forum hosted by the CBI. The research is the latest output from the CIPD’s Learning to Work campaign, designed to encourage more employers to invest in tomorrow’s workforce.
Ofsted: Ofsted has produced 3 reports that will help schools improve to be at least ‘good’ and ensure that all pupils achieve to the best of their ability. The reports, Getting to good, The Pupil Premium and initial data from the forthcoming report Early entry to GCSE examinations were presented at a press briefing, where Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw talked about the importance of all children receiving a good education and the need for schools to focus on both ends of the ability & achievement spectrum.
WAG: A report commissioned by the Welsh Government to look at how to maximise the impact of procurement policy in Wales has found that good progress has been made in developing successful policies but there are key areas for improvement.
IPCC: Police forces should make the prevention, detection & investigation of officers abusing their powers for sexual exploitation a higher priority, says a report published recently by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
The report reveals how some police officers have used their positions of trust to abuse & exploit people with whom they come into contact. The report urges senior leaders within the police service to determinedly root out this kind of abuse of power. The IPCC & ACPO have produced a checklist of questions & recommendations for police which could prevent or quickly detect similar abuses.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: Where you live in Europe can strongly influence your education and prospects in life, according to a new European Commission report. The report, entitled 'Mind the Gap - education inequality across EU regions', highlights significant disparities in education opportunities and results across - and within - Member States.
There appears to be a North-South divide in educational attainment, with the highest rates of low-qualified people, with lower secondary education or less, chiefly found in southern European regions and especially in Portugal & Spain. In contrast, the regions with the lowest rates of low-qualified people are mostly found in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.
EU News: How many plants can be found in the Alps that are not native to that region? Which animals were deliberately or accidently introduced to the Danube? How big a threat will they become to local wildlife?
EASIN, the European Alien Species Information Network, launched recently by the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), takes a first step towards answering these & other questions related to 16,000 alien species currently reported all over Europe.
This information network – the first of its kind in Europe – is an important step to deal with the threat of alien species that become invasive. Invasive species present a serious threat to biodiversity and natural resources, with an economic impact estimated at around €12bn per year.
EU News: The future of mobility in our cities was discussed last week at a conference where the European Commission also announced the launch of a public consultation, giving citizens and all interested parties the opportunity to contribute to the future development of the EU's urban transport policy. Consultation closes on 10 December 2012.
The conference also marked the tenth anniversary of the Civitas Initiative, which supports cities in implementing ambitious transport measures & policies fostering sustainable urban mobility. The Civitas Forum Network, involving over 200 cities, has provided the Commission with valuable guidance on how EU action can best support local action for better and more sustainable transport
EU News: The European Commission has released its annual financial report which describes how the 2011 budgetary cycle was managed. The financial report provides detailed information on the sources of EU financing and gives a basic overview of EU expenditure.
VSO: VSO has welcomed ‘EU Aid Volunteers’, a new European Commission initiative which will recruit 10,000 EU citizens to volunteer worldwide in humanitarian operations. The European Commission last week set out its plans for the new initiative, which will provide a path for Europeans who want to offer practical help in countries where it is most urgently needed.
BIS: Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon has published a consultation on implementing European Union (EU) legislation to combat the problem of late payment to British businesses – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Young paratrooper Harold Herbert waited to jump. Below, a mass of blazing fields, crippling shell fire, and the sight of comrades being cut down as they fell from the sky. As bullets ripped through the fuselage of the Horsa glider the plucky 20-year old summoned his courage and leapt into the abyss.
Now 68 years on Harold will return to the scene of Operation Market Garden, one of the most audacious, though ultimately ill fated allied offensives of the Second World War, and the largest airborne operation in history under the BIG Lottery Fund’s Heroes Return programme.
HL: With the latest Government statistics showing a 27% rise in homelessness in the capital, a website has been re-launched to help those at risk of homelessness access the advice they need. Homelesslondon.org offers a one-stop-shop for information on the rights of those who are homeless and links to over 1,600 services that may be able to help.
CO: The first awards from the £10m Investment and Contract Readiness Fund have been announced by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society. The fund has pledged almost £1m to 8 small social ventures to help them scale up and do more for society. The grants will allow them to buy the top quality specialist support that will make them more attractive to investors & commissioners, and which they hope will enable them to raise £23m in further investments & contracts.
Last week Big Society Capital announced £37m of investments into social investment finance intermediaries to support new projects that will benefit society. Some charities are not yet ready to take on repayable finance from Big Society Capital, which is why the Government has established the Investment Readiness Programme, which will give ambitious charities & social enterprises access to money so that they can grow and better serve communities & people most in need.
Business and Other Briefings
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has launched new online resources to help internet businesses comply with the law and provide a better service to residents living in remote areas of the UK.
The updated resources, including a new video, are available on the OFT's Distance Selling hub which provides guidance for retailers & business support organisations on regulations that affect buying and selling goods & services via the internet, phone, mail order, email, interactive TV or text.
STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Council is to take part in Marblar, as it officially launches its new interactive web concept, designed to find profitable uses for patents & technologies that have been created through applied and blue skies research.
Creative minds the world over, from across all disciplines, are now invited to join the Marblar web community with the challenge of finding diverse market applications for these emerging or existing technologies, which can be so cutting-edge that their real-world relevance is not always obvious.
Marblarers will be able to interact with the inventors to discuss their ideas before submitting their initial proposals for review & shortlisting. Anyone interested in joining Marblar can register.
SFA: Deputy Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, has officially launched the National Skills Academy for Nuclear Manufacturing to an audience of over 200 key stakeholders, industry representatives, employers and Government officials.
The National Skills Academy Nuclear Manufacturing (NSA Nuclear Manufacturing) brings together the individual strengths of the Sector Skills Council Semta and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre into a strong & innovative collaboration.
DCMS: The Crafts Council and Bristol-based Watershed are teaming up to launch 3 residencies allowing craft makers to be embedded in technology labs. The scheme was inspired by the Internet of Things ideas lab held by the 2 organisations last November, which brought together 60 makers, engineers & technologists to explore new ideas.
Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey, has called for craft-makers to be ‘collaborative experts’, working with the engineering, science & technology sectors to challenge conventional industry thinking.
BIS: Northamptonshire County Council is celebrating after being named the most enterprising place in Britain for helping to generate economic prosperity across the County.
The other UK category winner for ‘Promoting Enterprise’ went to YTKO’s Outset programme for its work in providing support to under-represented enterprise groups in partnership with local authorities.
They will both now go on to represent the UK at this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards for ‘improving the business environment’ and ‘promoting entrepreneurial spirit’ respectively. The awards are run by the European Commission and take place in Nicosia, Cyprus (during Global Entrepreneurship Week) on 15 November 2012.
STFC: An extravaganza of science for all the family will be taking place at Daresbury Laboratory, as it celebrates its 50th birthday, on Sunday 30 September 2012..
From tasting space food, to exploding custard, and from a very extraordinary giant robot, to a walk through the Large Hadron Collider, whether you are 3 or 53, there will be something to fascinate you at Daresbury’s Mini Festival of science. .
There will be loads of opportunities to get your hands on some amazing science fun, as well as learn about some of the cutting edge science that takes place here at Daresbury. For the younger ones, there are loads of fun things to do, such as making UV bracelets that change colour in the sun, making key rings from ‘smart materials’ and singing to mini robots to make them dance as well as getting closer to nature, learning about moths and bees.
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