In the News
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EU News: The next war may not be as physical, but the consequences could be financially ‘bloody’ - Hundreds of cyber security experts from across the EU have been testing their readiness to combat cyber-attacks in a day-long simulation across Europe. In Cyber Europe 2012, 400 experts from major financial institutions, telecoms companies, internet service providers and local & national governments across Europe faced more than 1,200 separate cyber incidents (including more than 30,000 emails) during a simulated distributed denial of service (DDoS) campaign.
The exercise tested how they would respond & co-operate in the event of sustained attacks against the public websites & computer systems of major European banks. If real, such an attack would cause massive disruption for millions of citizens & businesses across Europe, and millions of euros of damage to the EU economy. In the next decade World Economic Forum experts estimate a 10% risk of a major Critical Information Infrastructure incident causing €200bn in economic damage.
DUK: The consequences of obesity include much more than just heart problems - The number of people with diabetes in Britain is expected to rise by 700,000 by the end of the decade, according to a new analysis by Diabetes UK. The analysis, based on data from the Yorkshire & Humber Public Health Observatory, shows that 4.4m people in England, Scotland & Wales are projected to have the condition by 2020.
This would be an increase of almost a fifth, and the equivalent of adding almost the combined populations of Liverpool and Newcastle to the current total. The vast majority of the extra 700,000 cases would be Type 2 diabetes, which can often be prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes and losing weight. Incidence of Type 1 diabetes, which is not linked to lifestyle, is also rising but scientists do not know for sure why this is the case.
DUK has warned that the cost of providing healthcare for the extra 700,000 people would put great financial pressure on the NHS, which is already spending 10% of its entire budget on treating the condition. There would also be a great human cost, as those people developing the condition would be at increased risk of amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke, and ultimately of early death.
HPA: Best not to leave everything just to ‘God’ - The Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) want to remind people travelling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to seek health advice before making the journey to help ensure a healthy trip.
Dr Jane Jones, a travel-associated infection expert at the HPA, said: "As this year’s Hajj is now less than a month away, it is really important that pilgrims seek medical advice and make sure they comply with Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health entry requirements for Hajj, which includes a valid certificate of vaccination against meningococcal meningitis (ACW135Y). Vaccinations should be completed at least two weeks prior to departure to ensure their effectiveness”.
MoD: Above & beyond - A total of 106 members of the Armed Forces have received honours & awards in the latest Operational Honours List.
MoD: They still ‘Don’t like it up them’, especially from soldiers prepared to charge into enemy fire - A soldier who led a bayonet charge over 80m of open ground through enemy fire has been awarded the Military Cross. The gallant & tactical move by Corporal Sean Jones of 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (1 PWRR) reversed a potentially dire situation when his patrol came under attack in a carefully planned ambush in October last year.
DfE: This should cause a reaction among chemical students - New teacher training scholarships in chemistry led by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) have been announced recently. Around 130 scholarships worth £20,000 each will be available. Any graduate with a 2.1 or first class degree will be eligible to apply for a scholarship on a chemistry Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course.
Working with experts in teaching practice, the RSC will award scholarships to candidates with exceptional subject knowledge, enthusiasm for the study of chemistry, and outstanding potential to teach. The RSC’s relationship with the scholars will continue into their teaching careers to develop a cadre of outstanding chemistry teachers who are part of a community of chemists across schools, universities and industry.
VSO: Helping them to help themselves - Accenture and VSO last week announced that Umaro Kargo, a shoemaker from Makeni, Sierra Leone, is the winner of the Making Markets Work for the Poor: Entrepreneurship Award. The award, which honours an individual or group which demonstrates outstanding entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity, provides Mr. Kargo with $2,000 worth of in-kind support for business development training from VSO partners to help him build his business by accessing influential markets within West Africa.
Aligned with Accenture’s global corporate citizenship initiative Skills to Succeed – which by 2015 will equip 250,000 people around the world the skills to get a job or build a business – the award seeks to recognize & celebrate examples of how markets can work to help lift people out of poverty.
DH: Ensuring we can cope despite the ‘health freeze’ - Emergency planning officers & emergency planning liaison officers are advised of the launch of the national capabilities survey 2012 on the 5 November 2012.
The purpose of the survey details how it fits into other cross government preparedness programmes and how it relates to the Civil Contingencies Act. The survey applies to both category 1 & 2 health responders.
UKOC: Customer feedback is always useful - UK Online Centres are always trying to improve the UK online centres network for both partners & users, but they need your input to make it happen. The online Partners survey will help to let them know what you think and how the network could work better for you & your learners. The survey will only take a few minutes to complete and all of your responses are completely anonymous.
STFC: Reward for illustrating that Physics is ‘exciting’ - To celebrate the work of science journalists and their importance in promoting contemporary scientific ideas & discoveries last week saw the launch of a new prize for physics journalism. The prize offers the opportunity of an expenses paid trip to Japan, to visit world-leading facilities carrying out research at the frontiers of physics. The prize is sponsored jointly by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Entries close 17:00 on Friday 4 January 2013.
EU News: How will Spain (let alone the UK) find the extra money? - To enable the EU to pay incoming bills, the European Commission's budget proposal for payments must be reinstated, to restore funds cut by the Council, said Parliament's Budgets Committee in its position, voted Thursday, on the EU's 2013 budget. MEPs also reversed other cuts proposed by the Council in investments to stimulate growth & jobs.
Press release & linksForthcoming Event: Gartner Data Center Summit 2012 | 27 – 28 November | London, UK - Accelerate Innovation. Drive Transformation. Achieve Operational Excellence - Delivering a wealth of unbiased analysis, Gartner Data Center Summit is the place to take the measure of today’s hottest infrastructure and operations (I&O) trends and technologies while validating your planning and direction.
The 2012 Agenda is designed to help IT leaders deliver operational excellence and smart infrastructure investment in today’s rapidly evolving environment. Discover how to get the most from critical initiatives such as consolidation, virtualization, big data, disaster recovery, infrastructure convergence, cost optimization and cloud computing.
Drawing from our latest research, our team of analysts deliver on your data center needs with a powerful five-track agenda:
A - Data Center Cost Optimization, Governance and Sustainability
B - Data Center Technology Modernization and Selection
C - Establishing the Right Priorities for Data Center Facilities, Service Quality and Business Continuity
D - Cloud, Virtualization and Other Transformational Data Center Trends
E - IT Operational Perfection: Achieving and Maintaining Process Excellence
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
TUC: Government plans to increase the minimum wage by 1.8% for adult workers and freeze the rate for young workers will result in the lowest paid suffering a real terms pay cut, the TUC said last week. The TUC said that with inflation running at 2.9% (RPI), around 940,000 people, two-thirds of whom are women, would see a further squeeze on their living standards, with young people being hit the hardest.
TNA: Discovery, The National Archives new catalogue is now the primary way to search their collections. They have now added more browse functionality to Discovery, which means that users can browse their collection by hierarchy or by reference, as requested by many of their users. For a more detailed explanation of using Discovery to browse their collection, read their FAQs.
MoD; An elite group of men (who ‘paved the way for success on D-Day’) have been honoured with an imposing monument on Hayling Island in Hampshire. The ceremony gave tribute to veterans of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP), who carried out top-secret missions in the run-up to the Normandy invasion.
TfL: Free travel on Transport for London (TfL) services for all Londoners when they reach 60 years old will be restored when the 60+ London Oyster photocard scheme goes live, from 1 November 2012.
The new scheme fulfils the Mayor Boris Johnson's pledge to bridge the gap for older Londoners since the age of eligibility for the London Council's Freedom Pass was raised by the Government.
FDA: Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude's announcement that permanent secretaries have "blocked agreed government policy" risks opening up a rift between the civil service & politicians, the FDA said last week.
IoE: The Institute of Education (IOE) and University College London (UCL) have agreed to enter into a formal strategic partnership to ‘assess the potential for a step-change in the institutions' contributions to education and social science, in London, nationally and globally’.
CLG: The Government has stepped in to save one of Britain's most famous vistas - the world heritage site at Ironbridge Gorge - by committing a £12m 'keystone' to conserve & protect it. Described by writer Charles Hulbert in1837 as "the most extraordinary district in the world", Ironbridge Gorge in Telford & Wrekin, regarded as the birthplace of the industrial revolution and a symbol of Great British ingenuity, is under threat from landslides & slippage which could damage and even destroy the historic site & tourist industry it supports.
Defra: A ban on imports of ash trees to combat the threat of the tree disease Chalara fraxinea could be in place as early as November 2012.
The disease causes leaf loss and has already killed trees in England, Scotland and parts of mainland Europe. The infected trees in the UK had come from nurseries in Europe or had been in contact with imported ash trees. A ban would also mean trees from infected areas would not be able to be moved to other locations.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has commissioned HM Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Authorities to conduct an Inquiry into progress made by Highlands and Islands Fire & Rescue Service in addressing recommendations made by the Accounts Commission. The Inquiry, by Steven Torrie, has been ordered by the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham, under Section 44 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.
A Best Value report, published by the Accounts Commission in March 2012, listed a number of serious concerns and highlighted an urgent need for Highlands and Islands Fire & Rescue Service to establish an effective & sustainable service model which reflects the needs of the area.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: Housing Minister Mark Prisk recently confirmed nearly £1bn to bring sub-standard council homes up to scratch - while at the same time offering a boost to local businesses up & down the country. The Minister said that the funding, to be allocated to 41 councils over the next 2 years - would bring over 86,000 homes up to a decent living standard.
And with reports in some areas that every £1 spent on Decent Homes improvements creates £1.46 in local spend through orders to tradesmen & suppliers in the area, he said the cash would also help ‘kick-start the economy, supporting local tradesmen and creating new jobs.
APCC: The Association of Police Authorities has issued a statement in response to the National Police Air Service replacing localised police helicopter operations in England & Wales.
WAG: One year on from the introduction of Wales’ 5p bag charge, Environment Minister, John Griffiths has said he can see no reason why the charge wouldn’t work just as well in other parts of the UK. Since the charge was introduced in October 2011, carrier bag use in Wales has reduced by as much as 96% in some retail sectors, and a recent survey of attitudes indicated that the charge is now supported by around 70% of people in Wales.
The charge has also resulted in more money for charities and not for profit organisations as the Welsh Government has called on retailers to pass proceeds from the 5p charge onto environmental or good causes.
SFA: ‘Healthy FE & Skills recognition’is a new programme to promote health and well being amongst learners and staff in organisations across England. Supported by the Learning & Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and Skills Funding Agency, the programme gives providers opportunity to undertake a self-review and develop a 2-year action plan that they will work towards to improve health & wellbeing.
There are 20 organisations that have recently been awarded Healthy FE and Skills status. The total number of learning and skills providers who have gained recognition since 2009 is now 77.
ScotGov: Parents will benefit from easier & better access to information & support thanks to Scotland’s first national parenting strategy which was launched last week. The commitment to improve family support is one of over 80 commitments, and is backed by £18m from the Government’s Early Years Change Fund announced recently by the First Minister for local authorities to develop community based family support programmes.
WAG: The Welsh Government will expand the Flying Start programme to double the number of children benefiting (from 18,000 to 36,000) through support for families, health visiting & childcare places, by 2015.
Flying Start is a programme for families with children up to 4 years old, which is targeted at Wales’ most deprived communities. The programme encompasses free childcare, parenting support, intensive health visitor support and support for early language development.
BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced a new partnership with UK bank Metro Bank to ‘help boost the growth prospects for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)’. Metro Bank will support up to £100m of lending for eligible businesses in London & the South East that are signed up to GrowthAccelerator, a Government-backed coaching service available to businesses with genuine potential for rapid & sustainable growth. a Government-backed coaching service available to businesses with genuine potential for rapid & sustainable growth.
BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable launched a £60m pot of Regional Growth Fund investment & bank finance at the Community Development Finance Association’s (CDFA) annual conference. The CDFA will receive £30m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which has been matched with £30m from the Co-operative Bank and Unity Trust Bank, to provide lending to small, micro & social enterprises.
The funding is expected to create or safeguard over 8,000 jobs over 6 years across the country and meet some of the growing demand from small businesses for access to finance & drive investment in often fragmented communities.
WAG: Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, is encouraging teachers to sign up to training sessions offered by the Welsh Government’s Financial Education Unit (WFEU). Established in 2008, the WFEU offers the training, information & educational resources that teachers need to deliver effective financial education to pupils in primary and secondary schools.
WAG: The Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s commitment to supporting Welsh students in Higher Education. No full time undergraduate student ordinarily resident in Wales will pay higher fees in real terms during the lifetime of the next Assembly than if they had been students in 2010/11.
Ofgem: Ofgem has recently launched a consultation on its Consumer Vulnerability Strategy which seeks to bring the energy industry & consumer groups together to help protect consumers. This proposed new strategy builds on Ofgem’s longstanding Social Action Strategy and ties in with the ongoing Retail Market Review, which aims to make the energy market simpler for all consumers. Consultation closes on 3 December 2012.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently published a consultation about the fees that it will be charging to registered providers in 2013/14. This year’s consultation includes proposals for the fees for primary medical services (including NHS general practice) when they register with the CQC next April and some changes to the current fees for other providers of health and care services.
CQC is also seeking views on the future direction for fees. In line with Government policy, CQC plans to reach full cost recovery from providers by 2015/16. It also plans to move towards a model in which fee charges will better reflect activity – higher charges for those services which require more interventions, and lower charges which ‘incentivise’ quality services. Consultation closes on 21 December 2012.
EU News: Complaints are often aired about the red tape created by European law. However, there is a definite lack of concrete proposals to reduce this burden. This consultation process for SMEs and their representative organisations, will help to identify the top 10 EU legislative acts considered most burdensome by micro-companies and SMEs. Consultation closes on 21 December 2012.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority has proposed a number of changes to the Listing Rules that aim to enhance the effectiveness of the Listing Regime. The Listing Rules set out the requirements for companies listed in the UK and are the responsibility of the United Kingdom Listing Authority (UKLA), operating under the FSA. Consultation closes on 2 January 2013.
CLG: Since its designation as a new town in 1967 Milton Keynes has been subject to central Government involvement either through the establishment of Development Corporations or, more recently, through the Milton Keynes Partnership Committee.
But under new plans published for consultation last week, those planning functions currently undertaken by the Homes and Communities Agency would be transferred to Milton Keynes Council. This would allow Milton Keynes Council the opportunity to plan development more strategically in their area and also allow local residents a greater say in how that land is developed. The consultation closes on Monday 29 October 2012.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has issued a consultation on the proposed update of the guidance to auditors on the audit of financial instruments; an update to Practice Note 23 (Revised). The proposed update reflects both the clarified International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) (UK and Ireland) and updated guidance issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) in its International Auditing Practice Note (IAPN) 1000, Special Considerations in Auditing Financial Instruments.
The FRC has supplemented IAPN 1000 with guidance that is currently set out in Practice Note 23 (Revised) that is still believed relevant and with a small amount of new guidance in relation to matters not covered in either IAPN 1000 or Practice Note 23 (Revised). The consultation closes on 4 January 2013.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has recently issued an Exposure Draft of limited scope amendments to the proposed accounting standard draft FRS 102. The FRC anticipates finalising the draft FRS in early 2013 and for it to be effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015.
The FRC also hopes to finalise its draft FRSs 100 & 101 later this year, enabling subsidiaries and parent entities to take advantage of the reduced disclosure framework for 31 December 2012 year ends.
In view of the limited scope of these amendments the FRC is inviting comments over a 60 day period, ending on 3 December 2012.
WAG: The Welsh Government has outlined plans that would make it easier & quicker for businesses, schools, colleges & hospitals to make improvements to their premises. The plans, which are set out in a new consultation, are part of the Welsh Government’s work to support economic recovery. They propose extending permitted development rights for sectors that are key to economic recovery, and would affect shops, offices, factories, educational institutions and hospitals.
The consultation is not just about relaxing restrictions. It outlines greater regulation of new hard surfaces in industrial & warehouse developments, proposing the use of permeable materials in order to reduce flood risk. It also proposes greater restrictions on permitted development rights in World Heritage sites. The consultation closes on 11 January 2013.
BIS: Businesses seeking to bring down the cost of their electricity bills are encouraged to contribute to a new Government consultation launched this week over its proposed £250m Energy Intensive Industries Package (EIIP).
The £m pound package aims to reduce the impact of energy & climate change policies on the cost of electricity for energy intensive industries. Industry & other interested parties are encouraged to comment on the proposals. Consultation closes on 21 December 2012.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
SC: The Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines which includes Update 9 (the update on the Victim Surcharge) are now available to download.
Monitor: On 1 October 2012, changes to the way the cap on the private patient income of NHS foundation trusts is enforced came into operation as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Monitor has written to the chairs and chief executives of each of the 144 foundation trusts in England outlining how these new arrangements will affect them.
RoSPA: A new online Resource Profiler has been launched to help support the practical safety & risk education work of the LASER Alliance, its members and those involved in producing resources. The LASER Alliance, which is hosted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and sponsored by the Gas Safety Trust, brings together a range of UK-based organisations and individuals that believe in children & young people “learning about safety by experiencing risk” (from where the acronym “LASER” is drawn).
The interactive profiler is designed to be of maximum benefit to those working on the development stages of child safety education resources. It helps to identify the resources’ strengths and shares effective practice to promote risk competence. The profiler can also be used to ascertain resources that may need to be developed in the future, as well as assessing which resources may compliment those already in place or which are about to be purchased.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a brand new careers education resource for primary school children in England: Equal Choices, Equal Chances. Developed by the Commission, together with a panel of education & careers experts, and tested in primary schools, the FREE toolkit for Key Stage 2 teachers helps to challenge any stereotypical ideas which pupils may already have started to form around the world of work.
MO: The Met Office supports the Department for Education through the provision of multi-media resources, information & lesson plans relating to meteorology for both teachers & pupils from Key Stages 1 through to 4.
To enhance MO resources they have now produced a new series of weather videos & experiments. The videos range from how to measure rainfall to simple experiments which create clouds, explain friction and demonstrate weather fronts. The Met Office will also be hosting a series of FREE video conferences for schools & colleges in England from November 2012 to March 2013.
HPA: The Health Protection Agency commissioned National Poisons Information Service has reported a 5.7% increase in online enquiries in the year to April 1, 2012. Figures published in the NPIS annual report, reveal that the service received 578,253 online enquiries last year.
UKOC: UK Online Centres have announced the launch of their Annual Review for 2011/12, an online microsite that celebrates some of UK online centres’ incredible achievements.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council, the UK's independent regulator responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting to foster investment, yesterday publishes its Annual Report for 2011/12.
General Reports and Other Publications
IISS: The latest Strategic Comment from the International Institute for Strategic Studies comments on Japan's decision to purchase & nationalise 3 islands in the East China Sea, which has caused protests to erupt in more than 100 Chinese cities.
NHS Confed: Mike Farrar of the NHS Confederation has commented on the Reform report 'Takeover'. Hesays a redesign of the way services are provided, not just mergers & takeovers, is needed to address the problems of financially troubled trusts.
APCC: The Association of Police Authorities has issued a statement in response to the publication of HMIC’s report into Police Authorities’ preparedness for the transition to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) this November.
Demos: New polling released by the think tank Demos shows the majority of people believe the government should start controlling how welfare recipients spend their money. This survey forms part of a wider piece of research supported by MasterCard, exploring the role that prepaid cards might play in the delivery of direct payments and benefits. It comes at a crucial time as the Government prepares to launch a new ‘Universal Credit’ in autumn 2013 that will replace existing income-based benefits and tax credits.
The results also build upon the findings of the recent British Social Attitudes Survey, which found the percentage of people who believe governments have a responsibility to the unemployed to have enough to live on has plummeted from 85% of voters in 2001 to just 59% in 2011.
PX: A new report, Welfare Reform 2.0, by Policy Exchange says politicians need to be more honest about how successful JobCentre Plus is at reducing the number of people claiming benefits. While they talk of 75% of all benefit claimants moving off JSA within 6 months, in fact, less than half of claimants will enter paid employment of over 16 hours. 30% of claimants leaving JSA are back on benefits again within 8 months.
It also suggests that we should expect more of those claiming benefits. The public’s attitude towards welfare has toughened over the past few years. A poll for Policy Exchange found that 21% of the public thought that claimants should lose all of their benefits regardless of the hardship it would cause if they failed to comply with their jobseekers agreement.
JRF: A new report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation outlines how York and other cities can become truly dementia-friendly communities. It follows the launch earlier this year of the Prime Minister's Dementia Challenge.
The York Dementia Without Walls project looked at what is needed to make the city 'dementia friendly' - meaning a good place to live for people with dementia and their carers. The practical ideas in the report were shaped by local people affected by dementia. The most difficult things for people with dementia are everyday activities that most take for granted, such as withdrawing money at the bank, paying bills, shopping and using public transport.
NO: Leicestershire County Council’s assessment of the safety of school walking routes was flawed, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report, she says, “I believe the Council’s decisions were the result of a fundamentally flawed decision-making process, and this was maladministration.”
The Council only considered the width of the roads, crossing points and existence of pavements. It did not consider street lighting or the condition of one of the routes at different times of the year; nor did it consider most of the factors as set out in the Department for Education & Skills’ (DfES) Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance. It also failed to consider the complainants’ representations.
ESRC: According to latest research, social scientists with PhDs working in central government make valuable contributions to policy, and report that holding a PhD can enhance their credibility with senior officials. It also shows that they are more likely to have climbed the career ladder and progressed into leadership roles.
Ofgem: Analysis by Ofgem published for the Department of Energy and Climate Change as required by the Energy Act (2011) forecasts a reduction in electricity generation margins over the next 4 years.
The report shows that electricity margins, the amount of spare generation capacity on the system, could fall from 14% to 4% in 2015/16. Coal fired-generation is likely to close earlier than expected under EU environmental legislation and the risk of a shortfall in electricity is highest in 2015/16.
DFID: A DFID spokesperson has responded to Oxfam's report on land grabbing in poor nations.
HEFCE: A new report published by the Higher Education Funding Council England looks at how the chances of young people entering higher education (HE) vary according to where they live. ‘POLAR3: Young participation rates in higher education’ outlines the latest version of the participation of local areas (POLAR) measure, which classifies small areas from across the UK according to their rates of participation by young people in higher education (HE).
NHS Confed: Commenting on the report 'Ward rounds in medicine', NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: "This report provides a number of useful recommendations for how we can overcome the barriers that prevent staff working collectively on some wards. We should listen to what staff say and their ideas about how services can best work”.
Legislation / Legal
OFT: The OFT has recently referred the UK's private motor insurance market to the Competition Commission for further investigation amid concerns that the market is not working well for motorists.
DfT: Aviation Minister, Simon Burns, has announced new rules to better protect holidaymakers from losing out if their travel company fails have come into force. Anyone who books an ATOL-protected holiday or flight will immediately get an ATOL Certificate confirming the details of the booking and their level of protection. It is designed to make clear to UK holidaymakers in a simple, straightforward way how their holiday is financially protected.
Press release & links
HO: Couples tying the knot will be given greater freedom of choice, as outdated time restrictions on ceremonies are removed, as from last week. People wanting to get married or register a civil partnership will be able to do so any time of the day or night under the Protection of Freedoms Act. Couples were previously restricted to between 8am & 6pm.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that it is set to issue two monetary penalties totalling well over £250,000 to 2 illegal marketers who have been responsible for distributing millions of spam texts.
The ICO has written to both individuals to confirm that the ICO intends to issue both of them with a monetary penalty for breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which regulate electronic marketing. The recipients have 28 days to respond and prove that they were complying with the law otherwise final penalty notices will be issued.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has welcomed the ban on age discrimination in services which came into force last week in England, Wales & Scotland. Evidence gathered by the Commission shows older people suffer discrimination due to their age, their treatment being based on stereotypes around their age, rather than as individuals.
This includes not receiving support to allow them to take part in local community activities; support which was available to younger people. In another case, an 84-year-old man waiting for an urgent operation claimed he was told that he'd been put at the bottom of a 6-month waiting list and that any cancellations would go to a younger person.
The 2010 Equality Act, makes it unlawful for any organisation providing a private or public service to discriminate against, harass or victimise an adult because of their age, and covers younger as well as older adults.
HO: From last week, migrants who have overstayed their leave by more than 28 days and then apply for further leave in the UK will be automatically refused.
Previous rules allowed people who had come to the UK on a work or study route to make further applications to stay, even if their original leave had long since expired. As a result migrants could apply to stay in the country more than a year after their leave had expired, without any penalty.
OFT: Changes to the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regulations mean that UK-based estate agents who assist clients to buy or sell overseas property must register as soon as possible (those that fail to do so may be subject to a fine or face prosecution) and comply with the regulations from 1 October 2012..
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has introduced a Bill before the Scottish Parliament that will underpin the sustainable development of the fish farming and freshwater fishing sectors. The Aquaculture & Fisheries (Scotland) Bill will ensure that farmed & wild fisheries continue to be managed effectively, maximising their combined contribution to supporting sustainable economic growth with due regard to the wider marine environment.
WAG: A Bill to simplify & localise procedures for making & enforcing Welsh local authority Byelaws is within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales, the Welsh Government’s Counsel General, Theodore Huckle QC will argue before the UK’s highest court next week.
The Bill seeks to empower local authorities in Wales to take ownership of local laws by simplifying & localising procedures for making, confirming and enforcing local authority byelaws, removes the function of the Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State to confirm byelaws. The aim, in addition, is to reduce the bureaucracy and length of time it currently takes to make & confirm byelaws - partly due to the requirement for confirmation by the Welsh Ministers.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
News: Stronger controls on drug precursors used in
heroin & methamphetamine production have been proposed by the
Commission recently. Drug precursors are legal chemicals contained in a
wide range of products, including pharmaceuticals, perfumes and plastics, but
which can also be illegally diverted to produce narcotics.
The 2 proposals adopted recently
seek to close loopholes in current legislation on drug precursors that
could be exploited by illegal drug producers. They reinforce the controls
on specific chemicals, both within the Single Market and at the EU borders
through Customs. In doing so, the proposed new rules can contribute to
early stage prevention of illicit drug manufacturing, which is an important
pillar of the EU drug strategy.
DECC: Recently the UK, along with
Germany and the Commission, announced the provisional
dates for the first phase III and aviation auctions, which are due to take place later this year.
News: Every year thousands of unaccompanied minors
travel to Europe seeking a new life. The majority has fled from wars,
conflicts or other difficult living conditions and some have even lost family
members along the way.
Recently in a report on the situation of
unaccompanied minors in the EU, the Commission calls for improved efforts at
both national and European level to respond effectively and in full respect of
the rights of the child to this complex trans-national challenge.
The Commission recently adopted a
mid-term report on the implementation of the Action Plan on unaccompanied
minors (2010-2014) – IP/10/534. The report takes stock of the
progress made and identifies the areas which require more attention and
targeted action during the next two years.
News: Flavouring substances in food will
become even safer & more transparent thanks to 2 pieces of legislation
adopted last week by the European Commission. Only those
flavouring substances featuring on the approved lists will be permitted for use
by the food industry.
* The first Regulation
provides for a new EU wide list of flavouring substances which can be used in
food and will apply from 22 April
* All flavouring substances not in the list
will be prohibited after a phasing out period of 18
* The second Regulation
concerns transitional measures for other flavourings such as flavourings made
from non-food sources and will apply from 22
News: Complaints are often aired about the red tape
created by European law. However, there is a definite lack of
concrete proposals to reduce this burden. This consultation process for
SMEs and their representative organisations, will help to identify the
top 10 EU legislative acts considered most burdensome by
micro-companies and SMEs. Consultation closes on 21 December 2012..
News: Parliament will push for democracy,
accountability & legitimacy in negotiations on the
economic and monetary union roadmap with the
Commission and Council. MEPs argue that the power
transfers to EU level necessary for a real EMU should be accompanied by
stronger democratic legitimacy. The negotiating mandate also prioritises
growth and suggests that much can be achieved within the current
News: Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and
Commissioner for Humanitarian aid, International Cooperation and Crisis
Response, Kristalina Georgieva, have proposed a new policy to help
vulnerable communities across the world build resilience to future
The new Communication, "The EU
Approach to Resilience: Learning from Food Security Crises" draws
lessons from the experience of responding to recent food crises and outlines
the measures with which the European Union will help vulnerable populations
reduce the impact of future crises and disasters.
News: 14 projects have been shortlisted for the
2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Over
402 projects competed in this year’s national competitions for a chance
to enter. The winners for each of the 5 categories will be announced at
the first ever SME Assembly in Cyprus on 15
Entries include (for the UK):
Promoting & raising desire for enterprise among
hard-to-reach groups - Outset is designed to show the
unemployed that self-employment & enterprise is a realistic alternative to
News: The standards of safety of nuclear power
plants in Europe are generally high but further improvements in
the safety features of almost all European nuclear power plants are
recommended. Nevertheless national safety authorities
came to the conclusion that no closure of Nuclear Power Plants was
This is the main message of the
European Commission communication on results of the nuclear
stress tests, which established that not all safety standards promoted
by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and not all
international best practices are applied in all Member States. The
Commission will follow closely the implementation of the recommendations and
will at the same time propose legislative measures to further
enhance nuclear safety in Europe.
News: The European Food Safety Authority has
concluded that a recent paper raising concerns about the potential toxicity
of genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 and of a herbicide containing
glyphosate is of insufficient scientific quality to be considered
as valid for risk assessment.
News: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the
Single Market. The completion of the Single Market is a
continuous exercise and is a central element of the European growth agenda to
address the current economic crisis.
This is why the European
Commission has adopted Single Market Act II,
putting forward 12 key actions for rapid adoption by the EU
institutions. These actions are concentrated on 4 main drivers for
growth, employment & confidence: a) integrated networks,
b) cross border mobility of citizens and businesses, c) the digital
economy, and d) actions that reinforce cohesion and consumer
Charity and Voluntary Sector
VSO: Dr Tom Bashford, 32, from London, recently won the Patient Safety Award from the Association of Anaesthetists of GB and Ireland, for his work promoting safe surgery while working as a VSO volunteer doctor in Ethiopia. He spoke recently of a ‘moral obligation’ to support developing countries with UK-trained medical professionals.
His role entailed sharing simple, life-saving skills & practices with the hospital team: setting up a High Dependency Unit; introducing the globally-recognised WHO Safe Surgery Checklist; and training staff to use life-saving equipment which had been donated but they did not know how to use. He left behind a team who had the skills to keep patients alive through surgery and crucially, who could train the next staff intake to do the same.
BHF: October is one of the busiest months of the year to move house, so why not donate your unwanted & reusable household goods to one of the British Heart Foundation’s Furniture & Electrical Stores, which operate a FREE collection service for your unwanted household goods, which can even be booked online.
HL: Recently, the Homelessness Transition Fund launched a new fund to help homelessness charities respond to pressures caused by rising demand at a time of cuts to funding. Under Future Ready, voluntary sector organisations that work with homeless people can apply for grants from £5,000 - £25,000 to help them respond to the challenges they face.
With homelessness numbers at their highest since 2008 and 6 out of every 10 projects having had their budgets cut in 2011, Future Ready aims to help organisations prepare for further changes to the commissioning and funding of services.
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: A new small claims track has been introduced to the Patents County Court (PCC), which will speed up the court process and make it cheaper & easier, particularly for SMEs, to protect their intellectual property (IP) rights.
The small claims track will provide copyright, trade mark and unregistered design holders the option of pursuing basic IP disputes through an informal hearing, without legal representation. This is expected to reduce significantly the cost of pursuing IP infringement cases. Claims allocated to the small claims track will be subject to cost restrictions of £5,000 or less to ensure they are proportionate to what is at stake.
FRC: The Financial reporting Council has, following consultation, recently issued revised International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) (UK and Ireland). The revised standards are effective for audits of financial statements for periods commencing on or after 1 October 2012.
GPS: The Agile Route to Market is now live providing customers with a route to market for sub OJEU / low value communications work (approximate aggregated value up to £100k over 4 years). It provides easy access for suppliers, including small agencies and sole traders, reducing the cost & time burden on suppliers when competing for government business.
BIS: The National Minimum Wage (NMW) rose in accordance with the recommendations set out by the Low Pay Commission in its 2012 report, on Monday 1 October 2012.
DECC: Businesses will still be able to get support for small scale renewable technologies under the Government’s Renewables Obligation (RO), Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker confirmed recently.
ScotGov: An American automotive company has established a new manufacturing & engineering centre of excellence in Glasgow, supporting approximately 80 jobs in Scotstoun. The announcement by AAM Europe of the expansion of their Albion Automotive site – supported by Scottish Enterprise – follows a meeting between First Minister Alex Salmond and key representatives from their parent company last week in Chicago.
HEFCE: The funding of £1.4m from Higher Education Funding Council England for Harper Adams University College will support the National Centre for Precision Farming. The centre will facilitate teaching & applied research activity in advanced agricultural engineering to enable precision farming techniques which contribute to the UK’s efforts towards global food security.
This is the first funding award to be made from HEFCE’s new Catalyst Fund which has been operational since 1 August 2012. The fund supports HEFCE's priority aims & objectives through investment in innovative & exceptional projects with universities & colleges. which has been operational since 1 August 2012.
DECC: Consent was given last week by the Government for the construction of a 60MW energy from waste generating station in Cheshire. The proposed development at Lostock, Northwich, will generate enough power to supply 80,000 homes and create a total of 500 jobs during the construction period and a further 50 permanent operating posts.
DECC: Investors that are interested in converting coal plants to renewable biomass facilities, and those that co-fire a high proportion of biomass with coal, have been given a boost under new plans set out by Energy Minister John Hayes.
The Government has introduced a voluntary reporting process under the Renewables Obligation for these generators. This will minimise regulatory burdens on generators and enable Government to better estimate how much financial support these schemes will need.
STFC: A PhD student co-funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council has won a prestigious award for demonstrating that a technique developed originally at STFC’s Central Laser Facility could take away the need for a needle biopsy in breast cancer diagnosis.
Marleen Kerssens, also funded by the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has shown that SORS (spatially offset Raman spectroscopy), a method using a laser to see inside objects without making an incision, is viable for detecting if abnormalities found through mammograms are malignant or benign.
Currently a needle biopsy is the only way to confirm this. Marleen received the Coblentz Society Student Award, an international prize to recognise young scientists in the area of vibrational spectroscopy, at a conference in Kansas City, USA recently.
WO: Secretary of State for Wales David Jones has welcomed the announcement that Turkish steel company HDM Steel Pipe will set up a new manufacturing facility in Cardiff. .
STFC: The ESA BIC Harwell is proud to announce that they have achieved the landmark of our first alumni in the programme, company G2way Limited. The company joined ESA BIC Harwell in July 2011 with their LLEO (Low Level Earth Observation) project, using electrically powered micro unmanned aerial vehicles carrying cameras to evaluate farmers' crops in the field. These are then able to advise farmers on the best use of fertilizers and pesticides to optimize yields.
DECC: Over 40 organisations have joined forces to set out a long-term vision for the deployment of offshore wind in the northern seas and the economic opportunities this presents. These included world-leading manufacturers, cutting-edge developers, supply-chain firms, researchers and industry-bodies.
The new network – called norstec – was first announced by the Prime Minister at the Clean Energy Ministerial in April 2012 and brought together around 20 companies. Last week, with its ranks more than doubled and numbers continuing to grow, the network held its first full meeting in London centred around this vision and the role that norstec can play in maximising the potential of the northern seas’ abundant resources.
STFC: The UK Space Agency and Science & Technology Facilities Council invite you to The ESA Technology Transfer Network SpaceTech2012 event, the premier UK event linking the unique world of space research with successful commercial business development, which will be hosted at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Oxford on 5 - 6 November 2012.
STFC: The opportunity to touch a meteorite, meet a space scientist or take part in an astronaut training programme is just a taste of what’s on offer to members of the public as the UK celebrates World Space Week (4-10 October 2012). .
8 leading UK Science & Discovery Centres are running space-related events with schools & families in their area, in celebration of the week. They are funded as part of a joint venture between the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
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