In the News
MoD: Some good news for the armed forces - The MOD has launched a new Defence Discount Service, as part of the Armed Forces Covenant, in recognition of service in the Armed Forces.
Other recent announcements include:
* The Government is changing the rules so that fines from banks & other financial services firms no longer go to the industry. It has recently announced that £35m of fines imposed for attempted LIBOR manipulation and other unacceptable behaviour will be used to support Britain’s Armed Forces community
* The MOD has announced that the Government is extending the scheme which provides financial support for the children of Armed Forces personnel
* The Government is showing its commitment to Armed Forces personnel by giving extra financial support to Reserves and injured Service personnel
* The Defence Secretary has announced that, from December 2012, civil servants in central government departments who volunteer as reservists will receive a minimum of 10 days' special paid leave per year to conduct their military training
* Partnering for Talent (PfT) is a joint initiative between the MOD, the Department for Work and Pensions, and private enterprise. The pilot scheme started in September 2012 and aims to identify business benefits for employers who support reservists
* Outstanding photography from Afghanistan & Army life has been celebrated at the annual Army Photographic Competition
Ofsted: Do we care enough to ensure they get a ‘good’ education as well? - The gap between the educational achievement of children in care and their peers continues to widen. An Ofsted report published last week ‘explores the impact virtual schools have on tackling the educational progress of these children’.
Virtual schools are established by many local authorities and work with looked after children across their catchment as if they were in one school, liaising with the schools they attend, tracking the progress they make and supporting them to achieve as well as possible.
OFT: Before you started shopping on-line for Christmas - The Office of Fair Trading has written to 62 of the top online retailers ahead of the busy Christmas period after a sweep of 156 websites found signs that many may not be fully complying with consumer protection law.
The sweep looked for potential breaches of the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) and other consumer protection laws and is part of the OFT's ongoing work to ensure that consumers can shop confidently online.
Key areas of concern that the OFT has raised with retailers include:
* 33% of sites that provided information on cancellation appeared to impose unreasonable restrictions on customers' rights to a refund
* 60% provided a web contact form rather than an email contact address, as required by the E-Commerce Regulations. 2% provided no electronic contact details at all.
To support compliance with the regulations the OFT has created a web-based guidance tool for businesses, the Distance Selling Hub, which includes tips to resolve the key issues identified in the sweep. Top tips include being clear & open about cancellation rights and providing a full refund plus a refund of delivery charges when things go wrong.
The OFT has also produced a short video to help consumers understand their rights (Buying online: know your consumer rights) when they are shopping online.
EU News: If all the EU countries ‘invested’ the same % of their GDP annually as the UK they might have a case, but most don’t & won’t - EU defence ministers should give higher priority to pooling & sharing member states' military resources in times of tighter national budgets, said Security and Defence subcommittee MEPs on last week. They also called for better coordination with NATO and more flexible use of EU battle groups.
Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK) pointed out that despite good technical cooperation between NATO and the EU, "the political collaboration scarcely exists." He wondered whether a merger between EADS and British Aerospace could not do "more in an afternoon to bring about the integration of military industries than years of work by the EDA."
UKOC: Learning to use a computer can be fun - With Get online week on the horizon there’s now a whole new way to try out some keyboard skills and have some fun at the same time!
Just your type is an easy way for learners to get some practice at the keyboard, looking at some of the more unusual keys as well as taking in the more obvious ones. It's a great way to do something a bit different during the campaign week
: Isle of Man Government Online Services Driving Down Cost Whilst Improving Efficiency and Customer Focus - The Isle of Man Government’s Online Payments Service processed £15 million in its first full year of operation. Current figures show that take up of the Government Online Payment services continues to be strong, as of the end of September 2011 almost 150,000 payment transactions were handled securely with the total payment figures since launch approaching £200 million.
Online Payments is an integral part of the Isle of Man Government’s Online Services programme, which, in just two years, has delivered a ‘shared’ set of services that provides the full spectrum of infrastructure and business services to support Government interaction with citizens and businesses. These shared services are used by many diverse Government agencies, driving down the cost and driving up efficiency and customer focus.
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
CQC: The Care Quality Commission is to carry out an urgent inspection into breast cancer screening, pathology & clinical governance at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The announcement comes as the trust announces that it is to recall 79 women with regard to test results relating to breast tissue biopsies.
Monitor has also announced that it is taking regulatory action to ensure that the Trust has strong leadership, is delivering high quality services for local patients and is financially viable. The Trust was found in significant breach of its terms of authorisation on 21 September 2012.
HPA: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is aware of a laboratory confirmed case of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in a UK traveller who has recently returned from Afghanistan. The patient has been transferred from Glasgow, Scotland to the high security infectious diseases unit at the Royal Free hospital in London using specialist air transport.
CCHF is a serious viral disease which infects a range of domestic & wild animals. Humans are usually infected directly from the blood or body fluids of infected animals or via tick bites. The disease is endemic in many countries in Africa, parts of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
HA: The Highways Agency is to deliver 57 vital road improvements to ‘boost the economy, reduce congestion & improve safety’. The £170m investment is part of a £217m programme to remove bottlenecks and keep traffic moving on England’s motorways & major A roads. The economic benefit is estimated at around £3bn.
LR: Land Registry will reduce fees for all their commercial services that supply a title register or a title plan from 22 October 2012..
HPA: The Health Protection Agency is aware the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a drug alert to healthcare professionals advising them that the manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur MSD has recalled 16 batches of their typhoid vaccine, Typhim Vi.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is advising people that eating lead-shot game on a frequent basis can expose them to potentially harmful levels of lead. The FSA’s advice is that frequent consumers of lead-shot game should eat less of this type of meat.
PCS: Low-paid staff who work for Capita at the Criminal Records Bureau in Liverpool have voted 9 to 1 to strike over pay. In a ballot, 91% voted for a strike & other forms of industrial action on an 82% turnout. As well as now considering strike action, other industrial action could include a refusal to do overtime or any work outside the strict terms of contracts, and a general withdrawal of goodwill and co-operation.
The Home Office recently announced that Capita had lost the CRB contract to Tata Consultancy Services and work is expected to transfer to the new contractor in mid-2013. The union will be seeking an assurance from Tata that jobs will remain in Liverpool, and will be ensuring that all agreed terms & conditions for staff are transferred across.
EH: Using the latest 3D laser scanning technology, an English Heritage analysis of Stonehenge has found new evidence of the importance of the 2 solstices to its creators, including that of the midwinter sunset.
TfL: A short film showcasing how disadvantaged young Londoners have turned their lives around through cycling is now available to watch online. The Barclays-backed Cycle into Work programme offers to send young people on courses to build & maintain bicycles, helping them learn key skills and boost their chances of finding employment.
TfL: Commuters could be in with a chance of winning a range of top prizes if they can find the 75 Underground stations hidden in visual clues in a poster. The 'Look for Longer' competition, devised by the outdoor media owner CBS Outdoor, encourages lateral thinking and tests passengers' knowledge of the Capital as they travel around the Tube network.
FSA: Big Bamboo Jamaican Irish Moss Vanilla Flavoured Drink with a 'best before' end date of February 2014, has been withdrawn by Wanis, because it contains milk that is not mentioned on the label. Anyone with an allergy to or an intolerance of milk should not consume the drink. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
FSA: Myprotein has recalled its own-brand Free Range Liquid Egg Whites with a 'best before' date of 8 February 2013, because salmonella has been detected in a batch of the product. The Food Standards Agency has issued a product recall information notice. .
STFC: A new high-tech instrument with 24 robotic arms has crossed the Atlantic from Edinburgh to a mountain top in Chile to address in more detail than ever before, some of the key questions surrounding the beginnings of the Universe, stars and galaxies.
DCMS: Funding agreed for Bomber Command Memorial dedication ceremony; Culture Secretary Maria Miller has announced a £600,000 package to close remaining funding gap. Philanthropist John Caudwell has pledged £200,000, while DCMS is to contribute a further £400,000 to the cost of the Green Park memorial’s dedication ceremony, which took place in June this year.
TNA: You can now find out more about what life was like in 1930s Britain by exploring a new resource on The National Archives Education website. Thirties Britain: The depressed decade? is a collection of 45 pivotal documents relating to the decade, with an introduction by historian, broadcaster & author, Juliet Gardiner.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Scotland is set to benefit from nearly 15,000 new jobs, over the next 15 years, thanks to investment in broadband infrastructure, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week. The jobs will be created across the economy in areas such as e-commerce, engineering, social media, tourism, laser technologies, cyber security and research & development.
The job figures were published last week in the first annual progress report of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy - Scotland’s Digital Future. The Scottish Government is investing nearly a quarter of a billion pounds to deliver improved broadband access for people across Scotland. This includes a £120m broadband boost specifically for the Highlands & Islands and £5m to assist community groups in rural areas gain access to broadband networks.
WAG: The Deputy Minister for Agriculture has asked the people of rural Wales for their views on delivering the new Rural Development Plan. The RDP represents an investment of £841m into rural Wales - the new programme will operate for 7 years starting in 2014, and will support the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of rural areas.
ScotGov: A new national campaign encouraging people across Scotland to help combat the environmental & financial impact of food waste was launched last week. 20% of the food & drink we buy ends up being thrown away. This is the equivalent of an average Scottish household having another mouth to feed and avoidable food waste costs the average Scottish household £430 a year. Two-thirds of the food & drink we waste could be used.
ScotGov: More than £1.8m to support the Scottish Government’s autism strategy (launched in November 2011) has been announced by Public Health Minister Michael Matheson.
DH: Spitting may be considered an unpleasant habit – but in terms of healthy teeth it can make a world of difference to your smile. Dentists across the country are advising patients to think about their dental hygiene habits as part of a renewed focus on better oral health. Small changes like spitting instead of rinsing after brushing your teeth can help them to absorb fluoride from the toothpaste and protect your mouth from disease.
Giving simple tips to help patients prevent dental problems before they appear is a major part of the plan to modernise NHS dentistry. Recently the Government has announced it will extend its dental pilot scheme which is working to provide the evidence needed to develop the new dental contract.
WAG: Education Minister Leighton Andrews has published a new plan which outlines the roles & responsibilities of everyone involved in improving standards of education of our young people. In the Minister’s Teaching Makes a Difference speech in 2011, Leighton Andrews outlined a 20 point plan of actions to drive up standards & performance in education in Wales. Implementation of some of the reforms is well underway and already having an impact.
CO: The Cabinet Office is leading a radical overhaul of the arrangements that allow civil servants to undertake trade union work during work hours, the Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced recently. This ‘will ensure taxpayer money is only spent on appropriate and accountable trade union work that represents value for money’. The reforms announced recently will ensure that civil servants who are trade union representatives spend at least 50% of their working hours delivering their Civil Service role.
A new benchmark to ensure value for money – a guide figure for the proportion of the paybill spent on facility time is being introduced. This will be 0.1% of each department’s paybill in the first year. This will include all facility time, time for H&S representatives and time for Union Learning representatives.
10 DS: The Deputy PM recently backed the expansion of a programme to ‘significantly reduce the chances of disadvantaged young people from becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training)’. ThinkForward intervenes early to give struggling students the skills, characteristics and contacts they’ll need to make a successful move from education into work.
Developed by the Private Equity Foundation, ThinkForward now intends to build on a successful pilot and reduce the number of NEET young people in the Shoreditch area of London, which has a child poverty rate of 75%, by 50% by 2016.
WAG: The Wales Animal Health and Welfare Strategy (AHWS) Steering Group has agreed their animal disease priorities for Wales for 2012/13. The disease priority list is used by the group to develop & implement proposals for tackling animal disease & welfare issues in Wales. The diseases are split by; Beef, Dairy & Sheep.
DfE: The Government has announced a new flagship scheme to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I and give thousands of schoolchildren the opportunity to visit the Great War battlefields.
Pupils & teachers from every maintained secondary school in England will have the chance to go on a tour of the great battlefields – such as the Somme, Verdun and Fromelles – and take part in remembrance ceremonies on the western front.
World War I study is already compulsory for children aged 11 to 14. This project – part of the Centenary Education Programme – will allow pupils to learn at first hand about the sacrifices made by the troops and the personal stories of those involved in the war effort. The project will cost £5.3m, from 2013 to 2019.
ONS: Jil Matheson, the National Statistician, has opened a public consultation inviting views on a range of options for the way the Retail Prices Index (RPI) is calculated. The consultation closes on 30 November 2012.
EU News: Citizens, businesses & other stakeholders are being asked for their opinion on certain reduced VAT rates, in a public consultation launched by the Commission last week. They are also asked to consider what a change in EU rules in this area might imply.
The consultation is part of the wider work being done to fundamentally reform the EU VAT system, in order to make it simpler, more efficient and more robust. Consultation closes on 3 January 2013.
WAG: A consultation has been launched into a new scheme which aims to support looked-after children as they move into adulthood and independent living.
The proposed scheme – ‘When I Am Ready’ - will offer eligible children the opportunity to stay with their foster carers beyond the age of 18. This recognises that not all young adults are ready to move to living on their own, especially if they are vulnerable or have complex health, learning or other needs. Consultation closes on 4 January 2013.
DECC: National Grid Electricity Transmission (National Grid) has launched a call for evidence to inform the first Electricity Market Reform (EMR) delivery plan. It will inform the analysis that the System Operator (National Grid) will provide to Government in 2013 to inform the first electricity market reform (EMR) delivery plan. The call for evidence will close on Monday 3 December 2012.
IPCC: The Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched a consultation into the way that deaths following police contact are investigated. This is the first stage of a wide-ranging review into the way that the IPCC deals with such cases and the powers and resources it needs to do so.
The review will look at all kinds of deaths following police contact, including deaths in police custody, road traffic fatalities, fatal shootings, apparent suicides and other deaths following police contact. It will focus on cases which raise issues under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the state’s duty to protect life. The consultation closes on the 11 January 2013.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has announced a supplementary consultation for its leniency review on a further policy option of not requiring legal professional privilege (LPP) waivers as a condition of leniency in cartel cases, even if there is a related criminal cartel investigation.
It also proposes the use of independent counsel to advise the OFT on the merits of LPP claims made by a leniency applicant in some situations. Consultation closes on 14 November 2012.
CO: The Cabinet Office has published an ‘issues and questions’ paper as part of the Triennial Review of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. It is being led by an independent external reviewer, Peter Riddell, Director of the Institute for Government.
Peter Riddell is keen to consult widely as part of the review and for all those with an interest in the work of the Committee to have a chance to comment on the issues & questions outlined in the paper. Responses do not need to address all of the questions.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
Audit Scotland: An Accounts Commission report published recently says ‘gathering, analysing & acting on performance information is essential to improve services and the quality of people’s lives. But no single council has all the elements of a comprehensive performance and improvement framework in place’.
Managing performance: are you getting it right? offers practical pointers & support to help councillors & officials. It says effective management of performance is everyone’s business – from the chief executive down.
In well-run councils, it is embedded throughout the organisation as part of the day job and not seen as a burden. A key element is getting the culture right with councillors & officials sharing a common purpose & vision and setting clear priorities.
SFA: The Skills Funding Agency has published a suite of information materials to help providers in their conversations with learners & employers. These include a learner FAQs & factsheet and FAQs for providers to use in conversations with employers. They are available on the Student Loans Company's practitioner website.
The SFA is sending to providers their 24+Advanced Learning Loans Facility & Loans Bursary indicative allocations for the 2013/14 academic year and has published a first draft of the funding rules addition for 24+ Advanced Learning Loans and supportive frequently asked questions.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is urging keepers of all breeding herds to think about their Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) testing before putting calves into the sales this autumn. As part of the Scottish BVD eradication scheme all breeding herds must be screened for BVD by 1 February 2013.
Testing youngstock is the most efficient method for most herds and keepers are being asked to consider which BVD testing method is best for their herd before it’s too late. A guidance booklet was sent to all farmers in February and is available online – farmers who didn’t receive it or would like another copy can call 0300 244 9823.
ICO: A series of reports published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has highlighted the ‘positive approaches many private sector companies are adopting to look after people’s data’.
However concerns remain about data protection compliance within the local government sector and the NHS. The findings are included in 4 reports which summarise the outcomes of over 60 ICO audits carried out in the private, NHS, local and central government sectors.
NICE: New guidance from NICE provides GPs and other healthcare professionals with advice on the use of glucocorticosteroids for the remission & management of people with Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that mainly affects the gastrointestinal tract.
Around 115,000 people currently have the condition in the UK, with between 3,000 & 6,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The disease affects slightly more women than men and can start at any age, though it usually starts between the ages of 15 & 30. In new guidelines, NICE provides recommendations on a number of new drugs that have been licensed for the condition over the past decade.
SC: The Sentencing Council has launched a short animated film for victims & witnesses of crime explaining how sentencing works & the types of sentence offenders can get. As well as being available to view online, it will also be used by Victim Support’s Witness Service volunteers at courts when they are helping victims & witnesses.
WAG: The Welsh Government has published templates to help organisations in the private, public & third sectors act on climate change. The 3 documents highlight what organisations can gain from addressing the challenges of climate change. Each provides advice on producing business cases and includes case studies of organisations that are already seeing the long-term financial and environmental benefits of taking action.
DfE: Twice as many students now taking key academic subjects thanks to the EBacc. The figures which came out recently revealed how the introduction of the English Baccalaureate has led to a huge increase in the proportion of young people studying the core academic subjects so highly valued by universities & employers.
IFS: Spending by Welsh unitary authorities (UAs) is set to be 8.0% lower per person this year than in 2009-10 in real terms according to a new report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. Despite this significant cut the majority of the cuts implied by Government spending plans are still to come.
HPA: The Health Protection Agency’s first weekly flu report for the forthcoming 2012/13 season was published last week and shows current flu activity is low across the UK at the start of the season. Full weekly publications will run until May 2013.
NHS Confed: A new report on mental health services across England maps out how NHS funding is spent across the country, including how much is spent on services provided by statutory & non-statutory organisations.
The report, Review of the Provider Market for Mental Health Services, has been produced jointly by the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network (MHN) and Mental Health Strategies. It shows that 77% of the £7.19bn NHS investment in adult & older people’s mental health services in 2010-11 was used to commission services from statutory providers.
CIPD: The average level of employee absence has fallen compared with last year from 7.7 days to 6.8 per employee per year, according to this year’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) / Simplyhealth Absence Management survey.
However, the fall in absence levels coincides with almost a third of employers reporting an increase in the number of people going into work ill.
General Reports and Other Publications
IISS: Amid suggestions that some states were skilfully manipulating currencies not merely for economic gain, but also as 'a form of asymmetric warfare', the Third International Institute for Strategic Studies Geo-economics Conference sought to examine whether nations could indeed deploy currency mechanisms to amass & exercise power.
NO: Southampton City Council wrongly charged an elderly woman’s family ‘top-up’ fees for her residential care, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
In her report she says that, in line with Government guidance: “because no accommodation was available at the Council’s ‘usual rate’, the Council should have paid to accommodate the woman elsewhere and should not have sought additional fees beyond the assessed contribution.”
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published a report into the governance of the University of the Highlands & Islands. This sets out a proposed structure for the management of the university.
CSJ: According to a new report from a leading think-tank critical of the Government’s failure to do more to tackle family breakdown; Families headed by married couples will be in a minority by 2050.
The report from the Centre for Social Justice concedes that there have been some ‘promising’ moves by Ministers to promote family stability, such as the publication of their Social Justice Strategy and the release of public money to provide relationship support.
But overall the CSJ is deeply dismayed by the lack of progress since the Coalition was formed in 2010, warning that official efforts to promote stable families are ‘dwarfed by the scale and cost of family breakdown’.
CH: If the oil & gas industry is to evolve & prosper it must undergo a transformation as radical and profound as that of the 1970s, says a new report from Chatham House. What Next for the Oil and Gas Industry? examines how long-term changes in the business environment, technological developments, climate change mitigation policies and the new geopolitics of oil are forcing seismic change upon the industry.
The report finds that the threat of 'oil running out' - for years regarded as the second big turning point facing the industry - is no longer an imminent prospect, with 'peak oil' increasingly looking like a misleading notion.
On the contrary, it is demand that is nearing a plateau, at least in developed countries. And with reserves of oil & gas having more than doubled since 1980, the problem is not finite resources, but rather the rate at which these very large resources can be converted into reserves.
Ofsted: A report published recently by Ofsted highlights the benefits & pitfalls of partnership working in music education. The report, Music in schools: sound partnerships, was commissioned by the Department for Education in November 2011 as part of the National Plan for Music Education.
PC&PE: The Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published its Report - Financial viability of the social housing sector: introducing the Affordable Homes Programme.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: “We welcome the 80,000 homes due to be built under the Affordable Homes Programme, but have serious concerns about the impact of financing the scheme partly through higher rents on the Housing Benefit bill and on affordability for tenants.
Socitm: Public service managers should be thinking hard about implications of 4G now that 3G has made mobile internet use routine. In 4G mobile telephony: coming to a town near you? Socitm Insight sets out the challenges & opportunities and provides advice about what local public service organisations need to do about them.
ESRC: In the developing world social movements led by urban, rural and often indigenous people who are opposed to projects they regard as inappropriate & exploitative can be very effective. Research jointly supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department of International Development (DFID) suggests that in Peru and other developing nations, it is possible for social movements to drive real change.
NHS Confed: NHS commissioners should use a 'dual carriageway' approach to roll out personal health budgets (PHBs), ensuring they complement arrangements already used in social care, according to a new publication by the NHS Confederation.
Joint personal budgets: a new solution to the problem of integrated care? introduces the idea of joint personal budgets for health & social care. The paper details a ‘dual carriageway’ approach to budgets which has been piloted in a number of areas throughout England.
This approach has allowed people to have a single assessment of their health & social care needs, and one budget to manage their care. It aims to provide a seamless integrated health & care package without the need for a formal pooling of budgets or structural system integration across the NHS and local authorities.
Legislation / Legal
DCMS: Hundreds of live music venues will be exempt from licensing laws as part of the Live Music Act 2012 that came into force last week. Live un-amplified music performed in any location, and live amplified music in on-licensed premises & workplaces for audiences of up to 200 people will no longer need a specific licence between 08:00 and 23:00hrs.
MoJ: 48 flexible court pilots that will speed up cases and help modernise criminal justice services across England & Wales have been unveiled by Justice Minister Damian Green.
Flexible courts will include:
* Courts to sit outside traditional working hours and on weekends
* Increased use of video-link technology including prison to court links where suspects can appear in court from prison and from police stations to the court for first hearings
CLG: Councils would be given greater freedom to stop unauthorised traveller sites being set up and prevent long, drawn-out stalemates like Dale Farm, under proposals announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. They would allow councils greater freedom to choose when to use 'Temporary Stop Notices' in relation to caravans which are used as main residences and are in breach of planning control.
Press release & links
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: EU member states will have to share specific information on fraud cases involving EU funds on their territory with the EU Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), under an agreement between the European Parliament, Council and Commission, approved by the Budgetary Control Committee last week.
DECC: Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Edward Davey, has welcomed the launch of the 'A world you like. With a climate you like', the European campaign to promote climate action.
EU News: Offshore oil & gas firms would have to submit major hazard reports & emergency response plans before getting a licence to drill under a draft law approved by the Energy Committee last week. Licences would be granted only if the firm could prove it has enough cash to remedy any environmental damage caused. The draft will now be negotiated with the Council.
EU News: EU-wide coordination of national budgetary & economic policies must become more political, democratic, and include more stakeholders, says an Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee opinion evaluating the economic coordination done in 2012. The opinion also calls on national parliaments to play a greater role in this coordination and urges the European Commission to check that countries put its recommendations into effect.
EU News: Anni Podimata (S&D, EL), the MEP spearheading Parliament's position on establishing a financial transaction tax, last week made a statement about the intention of 11 countries to press ahead with the FTT.
HPA: In 2 reports published in Eurosurveillance on 4 October 2012, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirms that since the first case of severe respiratory illness associated with a new type of coronavirus was reported on 22 September 2012, there have been no new cases reported in the UK. The patient being treated in the UK with confirmed coronavirus infection continues to receive intensive care treatment in a London hospital.
EU News: The final figures for the budget 2013, as amended by the Budgets Committee, are available. Last Wednesday the Budgets Committee confirmed the outcome of last week's 2013 budget votes in a draft resolution to be put to a plenary vote on 23 October 2012. .
EU News: Citizens, businesses & other stakeholders are being asked for their opinion on certain reduced VAT rates, in a public consultation launched by the Commission last week. They are also asked to consider what a change in EU rules in this area might imply – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
HL: Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of the umbrella body Homeless Link has responded to news reports of the Conservative Party conference recently putting forward a number of ideas for cutting the welfare bill by a further £10bn after the next Parliament - including limiting housing benefit for the under-25s.
AUK: 1 in 4 people now consider care for older people the most important issue that will sway their vote, behind only the NHS and the economy, according to new research from Age UK.
Half the population also said they were 'extremely' or 'very' concerned about how they or their family would be looked after when they got older. In fact, only 25% of people think that older people are looked after properly in England.
DUK: People with diabetes who develop foot ulcers are at more risk of dying prematurely than those without the complication, a new large-scale study has found. The researchers say the findings highlight the need for improved detection & management of those with diabetes and foot ulcers.
DUK: Diabetes UK is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Named Lectures at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference, the largest of its kind in the UK. The Named Lectures are a central feature of the conference and provide a platform to share information about recent developments in research & innovation in diabetes care. The elected lecturers will have access to the 3-day conference and will be awarded an honorarium, travel and accommodation costs.
CAB: Consumer Focus has found that many energy customers on Economy 7 or other ‘Time of Use’ tariffs, could be paying more than they need to for their energy. Citizens Advice can help these customers get a better deal through Big Energy Saving Week (22-27 October 2012).
ICO: A social care charity has been served a monetary penalty of £70,000 after highly sensitive information about the care of 4 young children was lost after being left outside a London home, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced last week.
BIG: Voluntary & community sector organisations in 15 areas of England have recently been given the backing of the BIG Lottery Fund to enable them to work together to improve & better coordinate services to tackle the needs of people with deeply entrenched multiple & complex problems.
CO: Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, has appointed Dame Mary Marsh to lead a review into leadership & skills in the voluntary sector. Dame Mary’s appointment follows the recent Cabinet Office publication of a paper outlining progress in making it easier to set-up and run charities and social enterprises. This includes efforts to enhance skills & capability within the sector; to improve access to resources, volunteers and support networks; and to simplify regulation and to cut red tape.
Business and Other Briefings
DECC: Entrepreneurs across the nation are being invited to bid for a share of £2m aimed at spurring on innovation in bioenergy. As set out in the Government’s 2012 bioenergy strategy, sustainably sourced bioenergy could contribute around 8-11% to the UK’s total primary energy demand by 2020.
The Government’s £2m scheme is aimed specifically at encouraging innovation in bioenergy production on wetlands. Wetland areas are currently maintained in several parts of Britain to provide a rich environment for wildlife such as wading birds, water voles & warblers and the harvested material from these sites can be used to produce energy. This new investment is aimed at inspiring innovation in harvesting & energy generation methods, using plants already being grown which would otherwise go to waste.
BIS: World leading science projects are receiving a £1bn joint industry, university & Government boost. The Government will add £200m of new money to the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UK RPIF), supporting long-term university capital projects.
The fund, which launched with a government investment of £100m at Budget 2012, was heavily oversubscribed and received an overwhelming number of high quality bids. This additional support will more than double the number of projects that will benefit.
To access the money, universities must match the funding by at least double from private companies or charities – taking the total investment, including universities’ own contributions, to at least £1bn.
ScotGov: A multi-million pound renewable energy investment fund (REIF) geared to stimulating greater levels of private finance into innovative green power and renewable district heating projects in Scotland, was opened for business by First Minister Alex Salmond last week.
Initial priorities for the REIF are wave & tidal energy, community-owned renewables and renewable district heating, as well as other projects with a focus on innovative renewable energy technologies.
Press release & links
WAG: Business Minister Edwina Hart has launched a new pilot SME Growth Fund specifically designed to support Wales based businesses in the Energy & Environment Sector. The £330,000 Energy & Environment SME Growth Fund will initially run for 2 years and provide up to a maximum of £50,000 funding for eligible projects.
The Fund, which will be accessible to all SMEs working across the Energy and Environment sector, will provide revenue support and will not duplicate the existing Wales SME Investment Fund. Businesses applying for the non repayable finance will need to provide a minimum of 50% match funding.
GPS: Estates Professional Services: Procurement Update: The OJEU notice for this procurement has been published and the framework has a planned go live date of February 2013.
SFA: Hot on the heels of Team GB’s success at London 2012 Olympics, the UK has shown its talent once again, this time winning 7 medals at a European skills competition. Squad UK, which is managed by the National Apprenticeship Service and consists of the UK’s most talented apprentices, employers and learners, competed at EuroSkills in Spa, Belgium, from 4 – 6 October. All Squad UK members are aged 18 – 25.
The EuroSkills Competition sees Europe’s most talented skilled young people come together to compete in their chosen skill with the aim of winning Gold, Silver & Bronze. Squad UK won medals across 5 skills: hairdressing, carpentry, window display, painting & decorating and stonemasonry.
WAG: A unique new centre in Wales to train young entrepreneurs of the future and help them launch their own companies was officially opened by Business Minister Edwina Hart recently. The Entrepreneurship Academy Wales is the first centre of its kind in Wales dedicated to enabling young people to start their own businesses.
Based at the Innovation Foundry in Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre, the Academy will not only provide students with the theoretical knowledge of running a business but also help them set up their own businesses and trade while studying. The Academy is open to further education students throughout Wales and offers BTEC3 qualifications in entrepreneurship & enterprise.
Defra: Rural Warwickshire will be transformed into a centre of enterprise that is expected to create more than 500 jobs & 120 start-up businesses, Environment Minister, David Heath announce on his Rural Roadshow to the county last week. Warwickshire is one of just 5 regions selected to deliver a Rural Growth Network.
Press release & links
DCMS: For the first time in its 100 year history, the Government Art Collection (GAC) is set to tour works from its Collection to regional galleries in the UK.
'Revealed: Government Art Collection' at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will bring together works from 5 displays that have previously taken place at the Whitechapel Gallery, London over the last 18 months.
* Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: 17 November 2012 until 24 February 2013
* Ulster Museum, Belfast: 15 March until 9 June 2013
ACE: A conference bringing together key thinkers & influencers from across the cultural sector to explore youth engagement is taking place at the Museum of London on 25 October 2012.
The conference will draw on learning from Stories of the world and its application to the wider cultural sector to extend the inspirational legacy of London 2012 and shape future delivery and engagement.
Socitm: Socitm launch new GIS & location practice area. Book now for this FREE launch event. Hidden Efficiencies in existing GIS assets and data means that further efficiency savings and service improvements can be made in most local authorities. London - from 10:00am to 1:00pm, Wednesday 24 October 2012
Socitm: With the announcement of the new format for Socitm's annual conference, now is the time to book your place to ensure that you are part of the discussion. With two steams covering strategy & delivery, which include lightning talks and master classes, there is something for everyone.
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