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

In the News

DH:  The more we talk about it, the less there is to fear - A new campaign, which aims to increase early diagnosis rates for dementia across England by tackling the public’s fears of talking about the condition, has been launched recently by the Department of Health with support from the Alzheimer’s Society.

The A Day to Remember campaign is part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia.  It will encourage people to have that first ‘difficult conversation’ with a friend or family member when they spot the signs and symptoms of dementia and encourage them to visit their GP.

New research shows:
* 50% of people say they would find it hard to talk about dementia to someone they thought might have it
* 33% say that personal concerns would discourage them from talking about dementia with a friend or relative
* 63% of people would not be confident telling the difference between the signs of dementia and the normal signs of ageing
Press release & links ~ PM’s Challenge on Dementia & related links ~ NHS Choices: Dementia ~ Alzheimer’s Society: Top Tips ~ Worried about your memory? ~ Report renews calls for early diagnosis of dementia ~ Dementia Commissioning Pack ~ Route Map for Dementia Research ~ Dementia 'not being diagnosed' ~ Dementia champions start work ~ ScotGov's dementia strategy ~ Alzheimer Scotland ~ Standards of Care for Dementia ~ Promoting Excellence ~ Scotland's National Dementia Strategy: One Year On Report ~ National Dementia Vision for Wales ~ Alzheimer’s Society in Wales ~ WAG – Dementia services ~ Acute hospital care could be on the brink of collapse, warns RCP ~ 2.3m fewer overnight hospital stays needed if all areas perform as well as top 25% ~ Bespoke dementia information packs launched to reassure dementia sufferers ~ Transforming health & social care for people with dementia ~ JRF challenges society to think differently about ageing ~ Dementia: The early warning signs ~ Dementia Talking ~ DH: The new ‘normal’ reality of an aging population (2nd item) ~ NAO:  Symptomatic of the general level of efficiency in the NHS? (2nd item)

ICOClouds don't obscure the fact that the law is clear, if it’s YOUR data, it’s Your responsibility - The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidelines to businesses to underline that companies remain responsible for how personal data is looked after, even if they pass it to cloud network providers.

More & more businesses are looking to use cloud computing, with the economies of scale they offer giving access to a range of computer technologies & expertise that would be difficult to afford in-house.  But data protection regulator ICO is concerned that many businesses do not realise they remain responsible for how the data is looked after, even after passing it to the cloud network provider.
CO:  Government is open to business - The Open Data User Group (ODUG) has called on developers and the open data community to ‘submit requests for the release of data they believe will have commercial & social benefits and contribute to economic growth’.  The call comes on the day that the UK takes over as lead co-Chair of the international Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Anyone with an interest in accessing public sector information can submit a request to the ODUG using a new online form at since last week.

As part of the UK Government’s drive to make public data more widely available and support economic growth, the Met Office is beginning a consultation with application developers on its new DataPoint weather data visualisation app to further refine the service.  NB: Links to Forum (inviting comments) will appear on DataPoint website in next few weeks.

Currently, in its beta release, DataPoint is a way of accessing freely available Met Office data feeds in a format that is suitable for application developers.  It is aimed at professionals, the scientific community and student or amateur developers, in fact anyone looking to re-use Met Office data within their own innovative applications.
Press release & links ~ Assembly Open Data Project Aimed at App Developers ~ Digital Agenda: awards for creative reuse of open data ~ OS Open Data ~ Location of pharmacies ~ National Public Transport Access Nodes (NaPTAN) ~ GIS and Location services ~ Proposals for the ground breaking midata programme ~ Committee publishes report on implementing the transparency agenda ~ Ordnance Survey provides expertise internationally ~ Open Data White Paper ~ Open Government Partnership

COAs the rains start up again - The Cabinet Office, in partnership with the Business Continuity Institute and Emergency Planning Society has worked to produce the new ‘Business Continuity for Dummies’, an essential ‘survival’ guide for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  Reducing the risk from emergencies allows SMEs to go about their business more freely and with confidence that they can manage challenges they may face.

Written with SMEs in mind, the guide acknowledges that smaller businesses just do not have the money, time and resources to prepare for disruptions, yet the cost of dealing with them when they do arise can be significant. 

The guide provides simple, and for the most part inexpensive, ‘how to’ measures to deal with difficulties ranging from being let down by one of your key suppliers all the way through to major disruptions caused by challenges such as flooding, severe weather and a pandemic influenza outbreak.
BISHelp is a click away when choosing a university course - Students applying to university will have more information at their fingertips than ever before to help them make choices about courses and where to study.  

A new website has been launched that features a standardised set of data called the Key Information Set (KIS).  The completely revised Unistats website provides extensive information for over 31,000 courses in the UK, including student satisfaction ratings, graduate salaries & employment, tuition fees & financial support, and the cost of accommodation.
RoSPA:  Entry is as easy as ‘falling off a ladder’ - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has launched its awards scheme for 2013 and organisations of all sizes & types are invited to enter using a new online process.
The RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards scheme, which is the largest & longest-running occupational health & safety awards programme in the UK, has a fully online entry process for the first time.  All entrants must register for the awards by 3 December 2012.
DCMSWho says there is no funding for culture? - Public libraries are being encouraged to apply for Arts Council England grants to support projects with cultural organisations.  ACE wants the fund to inspire ambitious & innovative partnerships that will encourage library users and those living locally to get involved with arts and cultural activities. 

The Grants for the arts Libraries fund, which will invest £6m of National Lottery money, opened for applications last week and will run until March 2015.

Information Security Management - Latest White Paper Urges Cultural Shift to Mitigate Data Loss, Security Breach and Non-Compliance - Based on PWC’s survey of 600 leading European organisations, a recent study highlights an urgent need for a change in employee behaviour and a cultural shift among senior executives if organisations are to mitigate risks including data loss, non-compliance and security breach.
The report also highlights areas where mid-sized organisations are exposed to risk and provides recommendations for them to be better prepared. The Information Risk Maturity Index highlights a set of measures that, if put in place and frequently monitored, will help protect the digital and paper information held by an organisation.
The full PWC report is now available along with related public sector case studies highlighting improved security and compliance and addressing challenges such as:

*   The sheer complexity of managing hundreds of thousands of files
*   Records stored in many disparate locations and facilities of varying quality
*   Assuring the security and integrity of sensitive documents
*   Meeting government-imposed access targets

Click here
 to receive the report and recent case studies.

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

General News

STFC: A mobile physics lab for young people, run by the Institute of Physics and sponsored by the Science & Technology Facilities Council, has begun a second tour of North West England.  The 'Lab in a Lorry’ is designed to inspire the next generation of scientists & engineers, offering 11-14 year olds the opportunity to explore science through specially created interactive experiments.  
By the close of this second STFC-supported tour, Lab in a Lorry will have reached 10,000 students across the region, from the south of Cheshire to the north of Cumbria, all of whom will be introduced to key concepts in physics.
MonitorMonitor is taking regulatory action at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as it has found the Trust in significant breach of 2 terms of its authorisation:
* Condition 2: the general duty to exercise its functions effectively, efficiently & economically 
* Condition 5:  its governance duty
FDA: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander's announcement that the Government is boosting HMRC's Affluence Unit by 100 staff to crack down on tax avoidance by wealthy individuals does not go far enough, the Association of Revenue and Customs (ARC) said last week.  (ARC - the union representing senior HMRC staff - is also a part of the FDA).
ARC President Gareth Hills said: "ARC welcomes measures to tackle avoidance and close the tax gap, but this latest announcement does not go far enough.  We have told the Government that it needs to invest more in HMRC.  We have told it that senior professionals bring in 30 times their cost.  And we have shown how an investment of £260m in HMRC would recoup £6bn in tax currently lost.  It's time for the Government to listen to us.  It's time to be bold and properly invest in HMRC."
CIPD: The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has announced plans to make its HR Profession Map, which sets out global standards for the HR profession, freely available to the entire HR community.
TfL: A Transport for London campaign to encourage drivers to switch off their engines when stationary to reduce unnecessary emissions has been launched in London.  It comes as new advice is being offered to schools to help cut 'school-run' pollution.
TNADo you have a question related to the records The National Archives hold?  Are you stuck with your research and need quick & easy advice on the next steps to finding the information you need?  Are you just starting out and need help on how to begin using TNA records?
For these answers & more you can now chat online to their research advisers between 13:00 & 15:00 Tuesday to Friday.  Click on the 'live chat' button on TNA ‘contact us’ page during this time to begin your session.
GPS: The Government Procurement Service’s Multifunctional Device framework developed in conjunction with YPO and ESPO, with the support of DfE, provides an ideal solution for your photocopier & printer needs.  It is EU compliant, with industry recognised leasing agreements and specific contractual terms & conditions to protect the commercial interests of the buyer.
TfLYoung Londoners are being reminded to apply for their 16+ Zip Oyster photocard to get free or discounted travel on public transport as soon as possible..
UniteBlood transfusion test results will be hit by strike action over the threatened closure of the blood testing centre at Colindale in north London.  The strike is set for Wednesday, 10 October until Friday, 12 October..
The situation has taken a new twist by the fact the blood centre at Filton, near Bristol, which is meant to take up the slack when Colindale closes, has been shut for a week because of the recent heavy rain. Unite said that the closure of Filton has doubled the work at Colindale and by 300% at the Manchester blood test centre – and reinforces the case that Colindale should not close.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the first steps in creating a Government-backed business bank, including new Government funding of £1bn.   It will aim to attract private sector funding so that when fully operational, it could support up to £10bn of new & additional business lending.

The Government will build a single institution that will address long-standing, structural gaps in the supply of finance (identified in Tim Breedon’s report on non-bank finance). It will bring together in one place Government finance support for SMEs.  It will also control the Government’s interests in a new wholesale funding mechanism which will be developed to unlock institutional investment to benefit small businesses.
DfE: England’s most disadvantaged pupils are to benefit from extra cash next year when the Pupil Premium rises to £900 per pupil – around 50% higher than last year. Schools receive extra cash through the premium for every child registered as eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the past 6 years and children in care who have been looked after for 6 months.
HMT: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has made a number of announcements about action the Government is taking to tackle tax avoidance.   
DH: £1.5m has been identified to support the potential roll-out of personal health budgets to help individuals choose the most appropriate care for them. Personal health budgets give patients real control & choice, by ensuring that care is tailored to meet their health & care needs.

A pilot programme involving over 60 PCTs is currently underway across the country to understand how these budgets can benefit those who need them most, what they could be spent on and how best they should be implemented. The evaluation of the pilots is due in the autumn.
DCMS: The best ways of making electronic books available through public libraries in England will be examined, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced.  A panel will consider issues such as the benefits of e-lending, current levels & expected future demand, and possible consequences for libraries, publishers and the public.
ScotGov: A new £10m fund aims to deliver hundreds of eco-friendly homes and bring down heating bills. The announcement of the Greener Homes Innovation Scheme follows last week's 2013-14 budget which directed investment into construction, skills and the green economy.
The scheme is specifically for affordable homes that employ modern, environmentally friendly methods of off-site construction. Walls, floors, pipes, kitchen and roof are assembled in a factory then transported, as a unit, to the building site, ensuring a faster construction process, reduced waste and less disruption to the environment.  

Applications for the scheme are invited from Councils, Housing Associations, Builders and Developers by 20 December 2012.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government’s £1.25bn will see the construction of 67 new schools built for over 46,000 pupils, in every part of Scotland, by March 2018.
An extra 12 schools will be built under the third & final phase of Scotland’s Schools for the Future, after £80m was brought forward in last week’s budget, providing top quality classrooms for an additional 26,000 pupils.
DECC: The Government is backing a campaign by industry & consumer groups urging householders to stock up on heating oil now
Buying oil as soon as possible before the onset of severe weather can mean a cost saving when demand is low and also means householders are guaranteed fuel during the coldest months. Householders are also being advised to shop around for the best deal by the Buy Oil Early campaign, which is being run by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer Focus, and FPS (the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers).
WAG: A new national programme to drive up numeracy standards in Wales’ schools has been published by Education Minister, Leighton Andrews. The National Numeracy Programme (NNP) sets out the actions that will be taken by the Welsh Government and its partners to improve numeracy standards over the next 5 years.
FCO: Statement of the delegation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in exercise of the right of reply to the remarks made by the Prime Minister of Spain in the general debate on 25 September 2012.
WAGPregnant women will be offered whooping cough vaccinations to protect their newborn babies following a rise in cases & deaths amongst young infants, Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Ruth Hussey has announced. 

The programme aims to boost the short-term immunity passed on by pregnant women to protect their newborn babies – who normally cannot be vaccinated until they are 2 months old and is due to begin in October 2012.


WAG: The Welsh Government has opened a consultation on how it can maintain high welfare standards for animals that are slaughtered in Wales for human consumption.  The consultation is a response to an EU Regulation that will set minimum European standards for the treatment of animals at the time of their killing. The consultation closes on 5 November 2012..

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Ofsted: Ofsted has launched Learner View, a website enabling learners to rate their further education & skills provider.  Learners’ views are vital to Ofsted during an inspection and this new website enables them to give their views all year round.  It not only gives valuable information to Ofsted but will also be of interest to other learners & providers who will be able to access this feedback in real-time.
Each learner’s response on Learner View will be confidential.  Ofsted will not tell colleges or skills providers the names of any of the learners who have completed the survey.
EU News: The European Medicines Agency has recommended approval of NexoBrid (concentrate of proteolytic enzymes enriched in bromelain), an orphan-designated medicine, for removal of eschar in adult patients with deep partial- and/or full-thickness thermal burn.  

Eschar is the dried-out, thick, leathery, black necrotic tissue that covers severe burn wounds. Its removal is essential to initiate the wound healing process and prevent further complications such as infections in burn victims.
EU News:   The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended the authorisation of the first medicine specifically for the symptomatic treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the European Union (EU).
The Agency is recommending that Constella (linaclotide) be authorised for adults with moderate to severe IBS with constipation (IBS-C), a common subtype of the disease.  Linaclotide is a new, synthetic 14-amino-acid peptide, which works by increasing the secretion of fluid in the intestine and accelerating the movement of material through the gut.  It is taken by mouth once a day at least 30 minutes before a meal.
DfTNew frameworks setting out the competences expected of lorry, bus & coach drivers have been published by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) defining the skills, knowledge and understanding required to drive these vehicles safely & responsibly.
NICE: Health & social care professionals in England can now download for FREE the NICE British National Formulary for children (BNFC) app available for smart phones & tablets. The BNFC app presents essential practical information to help prescribe, monitor, supply, and administer medicines for childhood disorders.
Covering neonates to adolescents, the BNFC app includes key clinical and pharmaceutical information, organised by the familiar BNF Classification. The app deals with the drug management of childhood conditions more extensively then the BNF and includes greater detail on the unlicensed use of medicines, and specialist neonatal & paediatric interventions.
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published procedural rules on how it will deal with appeals against certain decisions made by Ofgem & Ofcom.
WWF: WWF has unveiled a new guide to responsible investing in 10 major commodities sectors. The 2050 Criteria: Guide to Responsible Investment in Agricultural, Forest, and Seafood Commodities comes amid accelerating global interest, & controversy, around the financing of food & agricultural commodities.
The 2050 Criteria is designed as a field guide for mainstream investors, in particular banks, investors, and financial analysts, to help navigate this complexity and identify responsible companies & projects in the agricultural, forest and seafood industries.
NICE: NICE has produced a quality standard on antenatal care to help improve the care that women receive during their pregnancy. While the majority of women in the UK have pregnancies without complications, problems during pregnancy do occur. Miscarriage, fetal growth restriction & preterm birth are common, and rates of stillbirth have changed very little in recent years.
Furthermore, research shows that there still work to be done to ensure government pledges on maternity care are being met. A recent surveyfrom the Royal College of Midwivesfound that 47% of respondents would have liked to have spent more time with their midwife during pregnancy.
NICESmokeless tobacco products used by some people in South Asian communities are associated with serious health risks such as oral cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to latest NICE guidance. Many members of the South Asian community use smokeless tobacco products to freshen the breath or to aid digestion. These products, which include paan or gutkha, are typically served as a mixture which is chewed and consists of betel leaf combined with areca nut, tobacco and spices. 
OfstedOfsted has published - How colleges improve - a report commissioned by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) & Ofsted to highlight how colleges canbuild on best practice and ensure the education & training they are providing is at least good or outstanding’.
Successful colleges shared the same characteristics centred on strong governance & management as well as a clear vision and direction.  The determination & drive of senior leadership teams in making sure their visions, values & culture were embedded in the ethos of their colleges, were evident in those that were outstanding or improving quickly.
HMICHer Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has published a study - ‘Taking Time for Crime’ - looking at how frontline police officers are supported & enabled to prevent crime in the field.  It was conducted in collaboration with 6 forces which represent the breadth & depth of the policing challenge. The study is intended to inform discussion about the development of policing into the future.
CIPD: A tool for those with responsibilities for people management within SMEs has been launched by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). In recognition of the crucial role good people management has to play in driving long-term performance in SMEs, the tool will help users put people management and HR strategies into practice within their organisation.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidelines to businesses to underline that companies remain responsible for how personal data is looked after, even if they pass it to cloud network providers – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.

Annual Reports

IoE: The effects of Reading Recovery last straight through to the end of primary school, a national monitoring report has revealed.  Reading Recovery is designed to lift the children who struggle most in Year 1 from very low literacy to age-expected levels.

These children are selected for the programme because they would not otherwise be expected to reach level 3 (the level needed to read a red top newspaper) by age 11. However, the 2011-12 report shows that eleven-year-old children who had received Reading Recovery at age six have overturned that expectation and have matched their classmates' progress for the following six years.
ScotGov: Scotland’s Chief Statistician has announced the publication of the Scottish Health Survey 2011.  This is the seventh report in the Scottish Health Survey series which began in 1995.  It comprises separate volumes for adults & children and Health Board level results are published alongside the annual report for the first time since 2003.  
TKFNHS performance is continuing to hold up well, but there is concern that quality of care may suffer as financial pressures bite from next year, according to the latest quarterly monitoring report on NHS performance published by The King’s Fund.

A survey of 45 NHS finance directors undertaken for the report found that a majority are confident of delivering average cost improvement targets for this year of just under 5%.  However, 2013 is seen as a potential turning point, with savings becoming more difficult to deliver and most directors sceptical that the NHS will be able to meet its target of finding £20bn in productivity improvements by 2015.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has published a report of the findings of the Financial Reporting Review Panel (FRRP) in relation to its review of reports & accounts in the year to 31 March 2012.
ScotGov: Scotland’s Chief Statistician has published Rural Scotland Key Facts 2012.  The publication brings together previously published statistics on a range of key policy areas, providing comparisons between remote rural areas, accessible rural areas and the rest of Scotland. The statistics provide a valuable evidence base on issues affecting rural Scotland and a tool to inform the mainstreaming of rural policies.
DfE: National, regional & local authority results for the Year 1 phonics reading check & Key Stage 1 results were published last week.
ScotGov: Scotland’s Chief Statistician recently published 3 reports in relation to Pesticide Usage in Scotland.   These included: Protected Edible Crops 2011, Outdoor Vegetable Crops 2011 and Rodenticides on Arable Farms 2000-2010.

General Reports and Other Publications

PC&PE: MPs on the Commons Science & Technology Committee have warned that a decision to discontinue the census would have a negative impact on the Government's social science analysis, as well as social science research in the UK, and that alternative systems for collecting population data may not prove to be any cheaper.
PC&PE: The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee is has published a Report on Olympics security. The Committee concludes that the blame for G4S's failure to come up with the required venue security staff rests firmly & solely with the company itself.
A combination of flawed management information and poor communication with applicants & staff mean that G4S senior management had no idea how badly wrong their operation was going until it was too late to retrieve it.  G4S continued to give false reassurances, based on poor-quality data, to LOCOG, the Home Office and other partners involved in the operation until a very late stage in the process.
CBI: A new CBI report on public services reform identifies how to maintain high quality public services and achieve £22.6bn or more of taxpayer savings by further opening up public service delivery to independent providers.
NHS Confed: The NHS Confederation has issued a stark warning to the Government about the £2bn gap in long-term social care funding, saying that a failure to resolve the issue will have a severe impact on patients. Publishing a report called Papering over the cracks, the NHS Confederation analyses the demographic & financial trends in social care, assesses the impact on the NHS, and proposes a way forward.
ESRC: If approached in the right way, citizens are willing to change their behaviour and do more to help themselves & others, according to research funded by the Economic & Social Research Council.  The project, carried out jointly at the universities of Manchester & Southampton, experimented with different intervention techniques which encourage citizen participation and explored people’s motivations for community involvement.
The researchers focused on comparing the effectiveness of 'nudge' techniques, where people are offered incentives to change their behaviour, and 'think' techniques, which takes a planned approach where people are given information, the opportunity to discuss & debate a subject, and then opportunity to act.  Overall, they found that, while the nudge interventions yielded better results, these were not always sustained in the long term.
Civitas: A new book, Boxing Clever, describes how the London Boxing Academy Community Project (LBACP), in partnership with Westminster social policy think-tank Civitas, combined boxing, close personal relationships, respect for rules & high aspirations to re-engage teenagers in education.
The aim of the LBACP was to make use of the strong relationships that boxing coaches have traditionally held with wayward young men.  It was an alternative education project in Tottenham, North London, where the summer riots of 2011 began. 

The LBACP specialised in working with 14-16 year old boys with aggression problems, many of whom were already known to the criminal justice system.  The project encouraged the students 'to take control of and better their own lives using education'.
IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies examines how Russia's approach towards the crisis in has attracted much criticism in Western and some Arab capitals. 

However, statements that is simply 'protecting its ally' or 'protecting its arms market' are unwarranted.  Its stance on Syria is informed by a number of considerations and interests, at both an international and a regional level, as well as in itself.
PX: New research shows that the majority of people support tagging criminals.  72% of the public support tagging prisoners out on parole until the end of their sentence, while 64% support the use of ankle tags for those serving a community sentence.

The report, Future of Corrections, by think tank Policy Exchange says that the current system of tagging is in desperate need of reform.  A more effective use of tagging, where police & probation officers are directly involved in keeping track of offenders and recommending to prison governors & the courts which criminals should be tagged, could save hundreds of £ms of taxpayer money and help the Coalition achieve its goal of stabilising the prison population by 2015.
NOPlymouth City Council’s delay in fulfilling a settlement remedy it had agreed with the Local Government Ombudsman demonstrated “a lack of appropriate commitment to customer service”, said Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
In her report, she says “I can agree remedial action with a council during an investigation to enable complainants to receive a remedy more quickly.  This demonstrates a willingness by a council to make amends. It relies on councils providing accurate and well-researched information.” But in this case, the remedy was not fulfilled, and information provided was inaccurate.
TPA: Patients want to be more involved in their care but feel GPs are currently not delivering good communication or shared decision making, according to a snapshot of opinion published by The Patients Association.

Patients too often feel disempowered & disengaged from their care, report feeling patronised by their clinicians and want to be more involved in planning their care, more involved in decisions about their treatment and better supported to manage their conditions independently
IoE: A blog from the Institute of Education claims that the ‘EBacc is a throwback’.   It has been compared to O level, but its lineage is older.  Its closer cousins are O level’s pre-1951 predecessors, the School Certificate and Matriculation.
Unlike O levels, the School Certificate required passes in a range of subjects ­– drawn from the broad areas of English studies, languages, and mathematics/science.  For Matriculation, which was a condition of university entrance, a higher level of pass was necessary across a range of School Certificate subjects, including Latin. Press release & links
NO: Residents of a newly-constructed housing estate complained that the District & County Councils failed to secure completion & adoption of the road serving their homes.  The construction of the road has still not been completed and residents wishing to sell their homes have faced significant difficulty.
Although the Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin, only upheld part of the complaint, the 2 Councils involved have nevertheless now agreed to take action with a view to securing the completion of the necessary works and adoption of the road outside the complainants’ homes.  The Ombudsman says this provides a satisfactory settlement of the complaint.
PC&PE: The Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its report - 'Preventing fraud in contracted employment programmes'.

Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: A legal loophole whereby life prisoners could become eligible for parole earlier than those serving sentences of a fixed length has been closed after a new Act designed to improve the justice system came into force last week.
The Criminal Cases (Punishment and Review) (Scotland) Act resolves a technical anomaly which arose following the Appeal Court's judgement in the case of Petch and Foye v. HMA, which meant that prisoners given a discretionary life sentence or Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) could apply to become eligible for parole earlier than those serving sentences of a fixed length.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: A proposal to amend rules on honey to clarify the true nature of pollen following a European Court of Justice preliminary ruling was adopted recently by the European Commission.  In line with international WTO standards, the proposal defines pollen as a natural constituent of honey and not as an ingredient.
EU News: For the first time the European Parliament was represented at the UN General Assembly opening this week in New York.  
EU News: Almost a third of Europe's city dwellers are exposed to excessive concentrations of airborne particulate matter (PM).  Particulate matter is one of the most important pollutants in terms of harm to human health as it penetrates sensitive parts of the respiratory system.  
The EU has made progress over the past decades to reduce the air pollutants which cause acidification, but a new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that many parts of Europe have persistent problems with outdoor concentrations of PM and ground level ozone.
EU News: On 18 September 2012, the EESC adopted an opinion on the cost of non-Europe, an issue which has resurfaced on the European agenda not only because it is important in mapping a way out of the financial crisis, but also because it is crucial to the success of the Europe 2020 strategy and the next Multi-annual Financial Framework.  It is a useful perspective from which to take forward the debate on pursuing European integration at a time of rising anti-European sentiment among citizens, growing populism & extremism.
EU News: The European Commission has presented a strategy to unlock the full potential of the cultural & creative sectors in the EU to boost jobs and growth.  The creative & cultural sectors face major challenges stemming from the digital shift & globalisation, as well as from a high fragmentation of markets along cultural and linguistic lines.  Access to finance remains a major difficulty.
EU News: The European Commission has decided to refer the UK to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for its tax legislation on cross-border loss relief.  The Commission considers that the UK has failed to properly implement the ECJ's previous ‘Marks & Spencer’ ruling (Case C-446/03) on this matter.
EU News: The European Commission's new strategy for ‘Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe’ outlines actions to deliver a net gain of 2.5m new European jobs, and an annual boost of EUR 160bn to EU GDP (around 1%), by 2020.
The strategy is designed to speed up & increase the use of cloud computing across the economy and the announcement follows the Commission's 2012 proposal to update the Data Protection rules and comes ahead of a European Strategy for Cyber Security to be proposed in the coming months.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

AUKAge UK is backing the Which? 'Price it right' campaign which is intended to make it easier to compare prices in the supermarket.   The unit price is the price of a food in a consistent measure, such as per litre or Kg. At the moment, it's harder than it should be for shoppers to make informed choices because this information isn't always available.
DUK: Many paediatric diabetes units in England are struggling to secure the extra funding made available in April 2012 by a new Best Practice Tariff, despite meeting its mandatory standards, NHS Diabetes have warned. In a letter to paediatric diabetes service providers last week, NHS Diabetes Director Anna Morton asked for a formal progress update on the new Tariff.  
The letter comes as many paediatric diabetes teams report commissioning groups are looking for loopholes not to have to pay the Tariff while others claim they do not have the necessary funding available.
The ‘Best Practice Tariff for Paediatric Diabetes’ sets out 13 areas of care that must be met for teams to qualify for greater financing.  Local services unable to achieve these standards will be supported to improve.  However, they face having their funding withdrawn if they are still unable to reach the required level by April 2013.
COPlaces are being announced all over England & Northern Ireland for young people to take part in National Citizen Service (NCS), starting in the October half-term holiday.
Previously, NCS has only run in the summer holidays, but following the success of this year’s programme the Government is looking for ways to offer it all year round for every 16- and 17-year-old. For the first time, NCS will also take place in Northern Ireland for 15- and 16 -year-olds.
UKOCDo you use online tools to help you achieve your community projects?  Are there any websites you just couldn’t get by without?
UK online centres is about to launch a brand new website, Community How To, which aims to make life easier for community groups by showing how digital tools can get the job done.  They are offering £100 to centres which share their experiences of digital tools with them so they can share them with others and help make life easier for everyone.
BIG: The new £3.4m Getting Ahead programme aims to engage, prepare & motivate care leavers and young offenders between the ages of 16 & 18 who are not in education, employment or training into undertaking a 6 month paid supported work placement.  The aim is to enhance their chances of progressing into sustainable employment or further learning or training by increasing their employability skills.
AUKAge UK's radio station, The Wireless, will be bringing its mix of music, news & chat to millions of homes across the UK, as it launches on DAB Radio.   It is now available on DAB radio across London & Yorkshire, and even if you don't listen there, you can still listen via the Age UK website.

Business and Other Briefings

BIS: £13m of funding has been awarded by the Government to help 10,000 more British firms export.  The funds will go to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to help more companies make contacts and sell to overseas markets. Up to £9m will go directly towards boosting trade opportunities for SMEs.

Industry News

STFC: The ability for medical researchers to discover & develop innovative healthcare solutions to better diagnose & fight fatal diseases and to improve neo-natal care has been boosted by a new agreement to work together that has been signed by two of the UK’s leading laboratories.
The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford and the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington (NPL) have agreed to develop closer business & research links to collaborate on commercial offerings for the healthcare industry.

Forthcoming Event

HEFCE: The Religious Literacy Leadership Programme, a Higher Education Funding Council England-funded project, is delivering 2 FREE workshops in:
* London - 7 November
* Birmingham - 8 November 2012
While there is a widespread public awareness of religion there is a limited public vocabulary for the constructive exploration of issues & opportunities that religion & belief can raise. These workshops for leaders, managers & academics will explore developing effective responses to religion & belief in higher education settings.
UKOCThe Digital evolution, local action conference (delivered by Online Centres Foundation - which runs the national network of UK online centres) takes place at the BT Centre in London on 27 November 2012.
It aims to give grassroots delegates a view of the high-level policy areas affecting them, uncover the barriers they face when engaging with new online tools, and send them away with new ideas to put to use back home.  

Delegates will get to take part in interactive workshops and hear from the experts about how technology can be used to deliver projects, improve services, build communities and organise local action.  

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