In the News
EHRC: In a period of reduced financial support, the least we can do is ensure that they can live without being harassed - Authorities need to take further steps to ensure that harassment of disabled people is taken more seriously and doesn't escalate into the situation Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca found themselves in 5 years ago, the Equality & Human Rights Commission said last week.
In 2011, the Commission carried out an inquiry into disability related harassment, which found that there was a ‘systemic failure by public authorities and transport operators to prevent disability related harassment’.
A follow-up report issued last week details the responses since then from government, authorities & transport operators. It shows that many are taking significant steps, making progress, individually & collectively, towards making a real difference. But the Commission's evidence shows that actions taken to prevent & tackle harassment are patchy with some authorities doing nothing or very little at all.
In its report 'Out in the Open: a manifesto for change', the Commission makes recommendations in 7 strategic areas which need to be addressed if disability harassment is to be reduced.
EU News: Will FTT revenues prove to be ‘Fairy Gold’ to match the ‘Head in the Sand’ EU contempt for the financial cuts of National Governments? - The 10 Member States that wish to apply an EU financial transaction tax (FTT) through enhanced cooperation should be allowed to do so, because all the legal conditions for such a move are met. This is the conclusion of the proposal for a Council Decision adopted by the Commission last week.
Once the minimum required number of Member States had signed up, the Commission immediately set about analysing these requests to ensure they met the conditions for enhanced cooperation laid down in the Treaties. It claims it did this with ‘full impartiality’, looking at the impact on participating & non-participating Member States, as well as on the EU as a whole.
DCMS: At least they played some ‘glorious games’ at the Olympics without any histrionics - The Football Association (FA) has unveiled a 5-year strategy to drive forward women’s football at every level in England.
The plan, entitled Game Changer, also aims to harness the momentum around London 2012 and the England Women’s team’s unbeaten qualification for Euro 2013.
DWP: Tough Love policy which matches the public mood? - Jobseekers who repeatedly refuse to play by the rules face losing benefits for a much longer period. The new rules are intended to send a clear message that ‘people receiving benefits have a responsibility to actively seek work in exchange for receiving Jobseekers Allowance’. But some people refuse to play by the rules and last year alone jobcentre advisors were forced to sanction 495,000 claimants, including 72,000 who refused an offer of employment.
Currently, those who fail to live up to their responsibilities can lose JSA for up to 3 months. From last week repeat offenders who refuse to accept jobs or voluntarily leave a job without good reason will see that increase to up to 3 years.
WAG: A foretaste of what might happen to Scotland’s Barnett Formula funding? - A joint statement outlining new commitments on funding in Wales has been published by the UK Government and the Welsh Government. Both Governments have established a common position on how English & Welsh funding per head has converged in the past and the likely trend in the future.
The 2 Governments have also agreed that, in principle, the Welsh Government should have access to capital borrowing powers on the condition an independent revenue stream, such as tax powers, is in place to support them – as currently being considered by the Silk Commission.
DH: One can’t but feel that this extra funding is but a drop in the ocean compared to future funding requirements - Dedicated funding to create care environments for people with dementia, which aid treatment by helping avoid confusion & keeping patients calm, has been announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Up to £50m will be available to NHS Trusts & local authorities working in partnership with social care providers to help tailor hospitals & care homes to the needs of those with dementia.
NICE: Do you have any 'nice' examples to share? - NICE is calling on organisations to enter its 2013 Shared Learning Awards. The awards recognise services & organisations that have put NICE guidance into practice through innovative & effective ways.
Submit an example to the shared learning database of using NICE guidance or quality standards to enter the NICE 2013 Shared Learning Award. Nominations for entry close on 31 January 2013.
ACE: With reduced funding around we need to recognise the efforts of unpaid supporters - Know of a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to an arts or culture project? Nominate them for the first-ever British Volunteer Awards. Millions of people volunteer in arts & culture in England on a regular basis. Their contribution is crucial and without them, many of our arts & culture organisations would not be able to survive.
If you know of a volunteer who has gone over & beyond what was expected, help get their efforts publicly recognised by nominating them for a BVA. Winners receive £500 (courtesy of Waitrose) to donate to the organisation with whom they volunteered and will be featured in the Sunday Telegraph. Applications close Today - Tuesday 30 October 2012.
Advisory Paper: Information Management: To Outsource or Not to Outsource? - ‘A Paperless NHS by 2015’, a highly ambitious commitment made on the 6th October by the NHS Commissioning Board, once again reflects the relentless drive for improvement and efficiencies in records management across all public services.
The key decision of whether to outsource information management must take into consideration all guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office regarding an organisation’s responsibilities in terms of data protection compliance and legal obligations, as highlighted by the recent £250,000 penalty imposed upon the Scottish Borders Council after it ‘failed to properly manage a company it had employed to digitise pension records’.
A recent advisory paper on the outsourcing of information management looks into key issues such as:
* Chain of Custody
Click Here to download this latest paper on outsourcing information management and find out how DEFRA have successfully outsourced 2 major projects, saving almost £1million and significant environmental benefits in the process.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
TfL: Commuters will be able to enjoy free WiFi at Tube stations for the rest of the year. Virgin Media, which launched WiFi on the Underground in June 2012, announced the extension following the service's busiest day, where it received more than 1m web visits in 24 hours. Originally intended to be free for the summer only, the popular service is now available at 72 Tube stations, including Waterloo, Victoria, King's Cross St. Pancras and Oxford Circus.
CAB: Over 6m children in Britain have parents who are worried they won’t be able to afford their next energy bill. And almost half of parents said they would cut back on their food shopping to pay for other household bills. This year Santa's purse strings have also tightened as1 in 2 parents say they'll spend less this Christmas.
So says Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland as they urged families & households across the country to save money on their fuel bills during Big Energy Saving Week: 22-27 October by checking they are on the best deal & cheapest way to pay, using less energy and keeping the heat in through insulation.
Citizens Advice are calling on people to 'check, switch & insulate' to make sure that they are making the biggest possible saving. They also warned people not to wait until plans from Ofgem or the Government to sort our energy bills are rolled out as they won’t help to cut their bills this winter.
Defra: Wildlife around the world now has even greater protection thanks to an agreement reached at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, India. Countries from across the globe agreed to double the resources allocated to halting the decline in animal & plant species globally by 2020.
FSA: Home Farm Speciality Foods is withdrawing various savoury sauce products because of inconsistent allergen information provided on the labels. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to celery, sulphites or wheat, do not eat these products. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert. .
FSA: Nisa Retail Ltd has recalled a batch of its own-brand Heritage Digestive Biscuits, because some of the packs might contain pieces of metal. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice. .
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) has launched its latest campaign to reduce the number of teen casualties. Posters across London, social media messages and an online game 'Stop.Think.Win' urge teens to look out for traffic when using the road. In the game, players must avoid traffic as they navigate themselves and lead a group of friends on a walk across a city.
NE: The Government has announced that, at the request of the NFU, it has postponed badger control operations in the pilot areas of West Somerset and West Gloucestershire to Summer 2013.
STFC: Scientists have developed a way to produce 3D breast cancer scans with a spatial resolution 2 to 3 times higher, but with a radiation dose 25 times lower, than current hospital scanners. The capacity for breast tissue to deal with radiation is one of the main obstacles for conventional CT (or computed tomography) scans. In addition current scans are 2D, rather than 3D.
TfL: In 2013 London Underground (LU), the world's first underground railway, will celebrate 150 years since the very first Tube journey took place between Paddington & Farringdon on the Metropolitan Railway. To mark this occasion, LU - working in partnership with London Transport Museum - will be organising a huge range of events & activities during the rest of this year and throughout 2013.
Monitor: Monitor has found Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in significant breach due to its persistent failure to meet its A&E 4 hour target and concerns about its Board governance & financial performance.
TfL: Electric vehicle owners who are members of Source London or Source East can now roam between the Capital and the east of England secure in the knowledge they will be able to charge their vehicles across both schemes. An agreement between electric vehicle charging the 2 networks means that members of both schemes will be able to use the other's charge points free of charge and have access to around 940 charge points.
OFT: The OFT has written to 29,500 state primary & secondary schools in the UK asking them to review their uniform policies as families could save tens of millions of pounds if schools removed restrictions. This follows an OFT survey of state schools across the UK which found that when uniform items can only be purchased from certain retailers or suppliers selected by the school or from the school shop, prices can be as much as £5 to £10 higher than if families were able to freely shop around.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is reminding organisations that sensitive personal information should be encrypted when being stored & sent electronically.
The news comes as Stoke-on-Trent City Council receives a monetary penalty of £120,000 following a serious breach of the Data Protection Act that led to sensitive information about a child protection legal case being emailed to the wrong person.
NHS Confed: Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, has called for more investment in primary healthcare & community services and urged a move away from dependence on hospital-based care.
NHS Confed: Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation has responded to a report on maternity care by the NHS Litigation Authority.
RoSPA: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has appointed a head of international operations to link up with organisations & government departments in the Arabian Gulf region and drive forward health & safety on the roads, at work & in the home. Key target areas will include occupational safety and road safety training with driver & fleet services for private companies, training enterprises and the government sector.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DECC: Hundreds of pounds of cash back will be available to householders in England & Wales who make energy saving home improvements under the Green Deal from 28 January 2013.
The Green Deal is the Government’s new initiative to transform the UK market for energy efficiency. It will let homes & businesses pay for energy efficiency improvements, like insulation, through expected savings on their energy bills. Households quick off the mark could get as much as £1,000 cash back.
DH: Doctors in the UK are to become the first in the world to have regular assessments to ’ensure that their training and expertise are up-to-date and that they are fit to carry out their roles’, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced recently. The General Medical Council will work with employers to implement & manage the system.
The skills involved in treating patients, who often have an increasing number of complex conditions, the different options for treatment, and the technology involved in modern medicine has increased dramatically in recent decades. There are now over 90,000 technologies in use across the NHS and thousands of new pieces of medical research are published on a frequent basis.
ScotGov: Plans to restore Scotland’s peatland landscape will be supported with £1.7m funding from the Scottish Government. Peatlands cover about 20% of Scotland and are of international importance. They are valuable to the economy, culture & environment, and are key habitats for much of our wildlife. This new funding, part of the Government’s Green Stimulus package announced in this year’s budget, will support the development of a Peatland Plan for Scotland.
WAG: An all age, cross-Governmental strategy for mental health & wellbeing in Wales has been launched. Together for Mental Health combines existing policy, consolidates progress to date and places the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 at the heart of the strategy. The 10-year strategy is supported by an initial 3 year delivery plan.
Press release & links
ScotGov: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has updated the Scottish Parliament on the ‘Edinburgh Agreement’ signed recently between the Scottish and UK Governments.
10 DS: An agreement with leading UK companies that will help tens of thousands of businesses secure increased levels of affordable finance was announced by the Prime Minister last week, in a move that will support job growth and help aspiring business get ahead.
The PM recently met with the leaders of some of the UK’s largest companies at Downing Street to discuss the important role they play in supporting their supply chains. As a result of the discussion, several companies have agreed to boost this support by actively evaluating the implementation of, or continuing to offer, Supply Chain Finance.
The PM also announced that the Government will look to, where it can, offer this to its own suppliers, starting with the first UK Government Supply Chain Finance scheme for community pharmacies in England, unlocking up to £800m of new credit for around 4,500 pharmacy businesses, many of which are SMEs.
CLG: Hundreds of towns across the country are being offered support that will help them revitalise their high streets. Following applications by local MPs, over 300 Town Teams have signed up to become Town Team Partners, and will benefit from a package of support, which includes help from the Government as well as advice & support from leading retail experts.
ScotGov: A major public awareness campaign has been launched encouraging everyone across Scotland to think ahead & get ready for all forms of severe weather – and not just in winter – that they can face in Scotland.
DH: The Government is calling for better care for people with long-term conditions under its proposed changes to the GP contract, which have been sent to the British Medical Association (BMA) for consideration.
The proposals put to the BMA include possible new quality improvement schemes for diagnosis & care of people with dementia, care for the most frail or seriously ill patients, patient access to online services, and support to help people with long term conditions better monitor their own health. If the Government are unable to reach agreement with the BMA it will move to a period of formal consultation.
WAG: Enabling the protection of Wales’ heritage whilst encouraging public access, enjoyment & participation is the main guiding principle behind the Welsh Government’s new Historic Environment Strategy. The strategy will set out the role of the historic environment in delivering tangible social, economic & environmental benefits for Welsh communities and will lay the foundations for the Heritage Bill,which is due to be introduced in 2014.
ScotGov: Farmers in Scotland have been reminded to maintain good biosecurity, source stock sensibly and seek veterinary advice if they have concerns about the health of their stock. The reminder follows results from surveillance from across GB (including Scotland) that indicates evidence of exposure to Schmallenberg virus in areas where it hasn’t previously been detected.
Press release & links
HO: The Home Office is seeking views on whether the way crime outcomes are recorded should be broadened to better reflect the work police officers do. If implemented, the new framework would recognise 'community resolutions' – where officers use local restorative approaches, such as painting over graffiti, to resolve low level crime.
The HO are also consulting on whether the new framework should show the reasons why certain crimes are not prosecuted. The consultation closes on 7 December 2012.
MoD: The MoD has launched a formal consultation on the 5-year review of 21 sets of access arrangements, set up in 2007, relating to Open Access on military land across the country. Walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other people who use military land have the opportunity to contribute to this consultation, which closes on 19 November 2012.
OFT: The OFT is consulting on how it proposes to use a new power, which will allow it to suspend consumer credit licences with immediate effect or from a date it specifies, in certain circumstances. The power will strengthen significantly the OFT's ability to protect consumers, allowing it quickly to put a stop to the licensable activities of businesses that otherwise would be able to operate until the end of an often lengthy appeals process.
The OFT will be able to use the power only where there is an urgent need to protect consumers from harm:
* The OFT consultation closes on 15 January 2013
* Final guidance will be published in February 2013
* The new power is expected to come into effect in Spring 2013
WAG: Regeneration is about transforming underperforming places and ensuring economic growth which is inclusive, sustainable & focused. The consultation document ‘Vibrant and Viable Places’ sets out proposals for new national outcomes & regional governance for partnership delivery of regeneration. The consultation closes on 14 January 2013.
An announcement about WAG’s new policy direction, including specific regeneration investment criteria, will be made early next year. This consultation will be supported by events across Wales including a Regeneration Summit on 15 November 2012.
Ofgem: Energy regulator Ofgem is consulting on major reforms to make the energy market fairer for small business customers. Although a review found that in general business consumers found it easier to engage in the energy market than households, Ofgem concluded that more protection was needed for smaller businesses.
Ofgem is proposing to widen the number of small businesses that benefit from its existing safeguards to ensure contract terms are clear. The rules currently apply to Britain’s smallest businesses - which typically employ 10 people or less. Extending the rules will mean an extra 150,000 businesses will be covered, protecting customers that typically spend up to £10,000 a year on each fuel. Consultation closes 21 December 20012.
CLG: The Government is asking for views on plans to make it a legal requirement for councils to open up every aspect of its business through the regular publication of a transparency inventory that will reveal data on pay, perks, spending, charities and now parking.
Overall council parking income totalled £1.27bn in 2010-11. Proposed amendments to The Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency will also introduce new transparency standards on parking charges.
A recent survey found that almost 70% of people intentionally avoided shopping areas with high parking prices. Two thirds said they would return to the high street if parking was more affordable. 20% felt there were not enough spaces available. It also found that 80% of people pay up to £150pm for parking. The consultation closes on 20 December 2012.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has launched a consultation on improving the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC), an activity-based costing approach used by UK higher education institutions (HEIs). The closing date for responses is 11 January 2013.
As part of the consultation process, HEFCE will hold 2 half-day consultation events:
London - 8 November
Birmingham - 16 November
ScotGov: Finance Secretary John Swinney has outlined the Scottish Government plans for a replacement tax relating to the disposal of waste to landfill including proposals for communities in Scotland to benefit more from Landfill tax than elsewhere in the UK.
The passage of the Scotland Act 2012 means that from April 2015 the Scottish Parliament will be empowered to introduce & manage taxes on the disposal of waste to landfill along with the purchase or leasing of land & buildings. Mr Swinney outlined ScotGov plans to make full use of these powers to introduce a replacement landfill tax which ‘would be embedded in Scots law, reflect Scottish values and Scottish circumstances’. The closing date for responses is 15 January 2013.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
MoD: The MoD is backing 'Get Safe Online Week' in a bid to encourage both civilian & Service personnel to guard their personal information when using social media channels.
A new document (see ‘Related Links’) has been released by the Department in support of the campaign, providing guidance for staff on communicating using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube so they don't do or say things that bring themselves and their Service into disrepute.
NICE: The social & emotional wellbeing of vulnerable children under 5 should be at the heart of early intervention programmes to ensure that they get the best start in life, says NICE.
This latest guidance will help to strengthen home visiting & early education services, and recommends that health professionals are alert to any factors that may pose a risk to a child's social & emotional wellbeing. Educational slide sets, costing support, and information resources for schools & maternity settings are available to help put this guidance into practice.
NICE: GPs and other healthcare professionals should routinely check the psychological & physical impact of psoriasis on people's lives when assessing the condition, according to latest guidance from NICE. Psoriasis is a condition characterised by red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published new rules that put common sense at the heart of the mortgage market and will prevent future borrowers ending up with a mortgage they cannot afford. The new rules, the outcome of the FSA’s Mortgage Market Review (MMR), will come into effect on 26 April 2014.
PC&PE: In a report published recently - FCO's Human Rights Work in 2011 - the Foreign Affairs Committee argues that Ministers should be bolder in acknowledging contradictions between the UK’s interests overseas and its human rights values.
It is inevitable that the UK will have strategic, commercial or security-related interests overseas which have the potential to conflict with its human rights work, says the Foreign Affairs Committee. The Government should not be trying to assert that the two can co-exist freely: it should instead be explaining publicly its judgments on how to balance them in particular cases.
CIPD: Ensuring benefits packages are engaging & motivating has become a greater concern for reward professionals than attracting & retaining staff. The latest Reward risk survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reveals that ‘attraction & retention of key employees’ has fallen out of the top 10 list of concerns for the first time since the survey began in 2010, while ‘increasing pensions costs’ has crept in to the top 10 for the first time.
APA: The Association of Police Authorities has issued a statement in response to the publication of the latest IPCC figures on police complaints in England & Wales.
General Reports and Other Publications
ASI: A report released by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) calls on the government to take radical steps to kick-start employment in SMEs. The UK’s economic growth prospects depend on SMEs creating jobs to deliver a recovery. SMEs account for 99% of private sector firms, and should be exempted from much of the onerous regulatory & tax burdens that currently stifle their success.
Gimmicks such as ‘shares for rights’ and a government-funded business bank will not address the real barriers to SME growth and will only advantage a small percentage of small businesses. In order to restore confidence in the British economy and reduce the burden of regulation on small businesses, the report’s author proposes a set of policies the coalition government should implement immediately.
UNICEF UK: Research commissioned by UNICEF UK reveals that low breastfeeding rates in the UK are costing the NHS £ms. The report takes an in-depth look at how raising breastfeeding rates would save money through reducing illness.
TWF: With the Coalition reaching the halfway point for its Spending Review, and in the wake of the West Coast Main Line fiasco, an in-depth analysis published by The Work Foundation warns that ‘the government is largely flying blind on the damage public sector workforce cuts could be doing to the labour market, despite making cuts at a faster rate than either the Thatcher or Major governments’.
The report also raises concerns about the impact on public sector skills, with recent events at Department for Transport raising the possibility that cutbacks could be leaving key areas with a shortage of essential skills & experience.
NO: There were flaws in the way Suffolk County Council decided to cancel subscriptions to an audio book service for some blind & visually impaired adults, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) complained on behalf of 7 blind or visually impaired adults about the Council’s decision to stop paying for them to have RNIB’s Talking Books service. Talking Books is an audio books service provided by the RNIB on an annual subscription (currently £82), designed to meet the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired.
NO: Kent County Council delayed in investigating how an elderly man came to be seriously injured during an altercation with another resident of his care home. The man died in hospital a few days later.
In her report, Local Government Ombudsman Anne Seex says that “the Council’s three failures to investigate the incident caused the man’s daughter significant injustice. She had to wait for more than a year for an answer to whether her father’s death could have been prevented. This has caused her significant distress.”
NO: The Latymer School wrongly refused to admit a boy to its sixth form finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. The Latymer School, in the London Borough of Enfield, selects pupils based on their academic ability and has an onsite sixth form for pupils wishing to pursue post-16 education. It refused to admit a boy – already at the School – to its sixth form because of an incident of poor behaviour in the previous school year that resulted in a temporary exclusion. The School says admission to its sixth form is dependent on good behaviour.
The Government’s Code is explicit that schools cannot refuse an application on the grounds of it prejudicing efficient education unless the school is oversubscribed or, in the case of sixth forms, if the pupil has not achieved the necessary GCSE results.
NO: City of York Council moved a homeless family into a house that was overcrowded from the moment they moved in, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report, she says “This has caused the family a serious injustice. They have been forced to live in overcrowded conditions for over two years and the two daughters, now aged 11 and 12, have had to share a bedroom barely big enough for two single beds.”
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee has published its 14th Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Major Projects Authority, HM Treasury and an expert witness from the private sector, examined how the new central assurance scheme was progressing.
Civitas: A combination of radical cuts in energy costs, red tape & taxes allied with targeted state support for manufacturing and German-style savings & enterprise banks should be at the heart of a bold new industrial policy, according to a major new report from an independent think-tank Civitas.
Demos: A new report by the think-tank Demos reveals the full extent of the hardship experienced across Scotland, estimating that 24,000 families face severe disadvantage. Glasgow is the worst area affected, with over 1 in 10 families facing severe disadvantage – 3 times the national average.
PC&PE: The Treasury Committee has recently published a report – ‘The FSA’s report into the failure of RBS’ - concluding that the FSA should and could have intervened in RBS’s takeover of ABN AMRO. The report identifies issues arising from the FSA’s own report into the failure of RBS that may merit further legislative or regulatory change. The report also considers the value of the reporting process for understanding the causes of RBS’s failure and for ensuring that appropriate lessons have been learnt.
iea: The Treasury is losing as much as £1.2bn every year to the illegal alcohol industry. A new report, Drinking in the Shadow Economy, demonstrates how illicit alcohol consumption is becoming a permanent and growing problem due to excessive taxation.
The report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, claims that ‘failing to deal with counterfeit and smuggled alcohol threatens not only public cash, but public health and public order. Counterfeit alcohol can contain potentially life threatening levels of dangerous chemicals, whilst alcohol smuggling is linked to other illegal activities such as drug dealing, violence and money-laundering.
PC&PE: The Environmental Audit Committee has recently published the report of its inquiry into Wildlife Crime. Wildlife legislation has become so complex that prosecutions fail and even specialist enforcement professionals struggle to implement it effectively. The lack of sentencing guidelines on wildlife offences means that some offenders are being neither punished nor deterred in the courts.
ESRC: People on low incomes who find it impossible to secure affordable loans can now access finance more readily following a successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project jointly funded by Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Following the 2-year KTP collaborative project, lending by East Lancashire Moneyline (IPS) Ltd (a ‘not for profit’ Industrial & Provident Society that provides access to credit, savings & advice, primarily to low income individuals) is set to increase by 50% from 2011 to 2012. Total lending by ELM to people on low incomes will top £10m this year.
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) has responded to the final report of the independent review panel, ‘Professionalism in Further Education’, published recently.
BIS: Computer-based trading can have beneficial effects on liquidity, transaction costs and the efficiency of market prices, according to a new comprehensive report on computer trading. The study found no direct evidence that computer-based high frequency trading (HFT) has increased volatility in financial markets, nor evidence to suggest it has led to an increase in market abuse.
The new 2-year Foresight study, The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets – An International Perspective, aims to shed new light on technological advances which enable computer algorithms - rather than humans - to drive high-speed stock trades, and which have transformed market structures in recent years, attracting controversy in the process.
WWF: With DECC and Treasury apparently divided over energy policy, a new paper published recently and funded by WWF-UK, highlights the importance of targeting policies to promote emerging clean energy solutions and cautions against simplistic solutions to policy.
NAO: The National Audit Office has published a report identifying issues & risks which may arise as the Department for Transport devolves more control over funding & delivery of transport services to local bodies. The Department has recently announced proposals to devolve funding for major transport schemes to new local transport bodies and is also consulting on devolving bus funding and some responsibilities for rail services to local authorities.
The spending watchdog is calling on the Department to clarify its approach as it implements these changes and moves into the new ways of working. This includes being clearer on who is accountable for local transport funding and how they will be held to account.
Ofsted: The Ensuring quality in apprenticeships report by Ofsted looks at apprenticeships in more detail and assesses the quality of subcontractors providing services for colleges & training providers. In 2011 the Skills Funding Agency introduced a policy of minimum contract values.
This meant smaller providers had 2 main choices - to form a consortium or set up as a subcontractor for larger providers. In many cases smaller, often good providers have been penalised by the loss of funding they can use to support apprentices because their lead contractors took too high a fee for very little work, often equating to the loss of frontline members of staff.
Cebr: Think tank Cebr forecasts show that employee earnings growth will be incredibly weak for years to come. The forecasts are released as part of the economics consultancy’s quarterly UK Prospects report. Although employment reached a record high recently, this has been almost entirely driven by part-time job creation. The number of full-time employees in the economy is still nearly 700,000 lower than during the previous peak in employment.
With so much slack in the labour market, average gross earnings will grow at a snail’s pace over the next 5 years. Average gross earnings (including bonuses) are expected to grow by just 2.2% next year, following on from dismal 1.5% growth in 2012. Even in 2017 growth of just 3.0% is predicted.
IPPR: The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that the UK economy emerged from recession during the third quarter of 2012. Real GDP increased by 1.0% – its fastest for 5 years and well above expectations. However, IPPR analysis cautions against taking too rosy a view of the economic situation, as 2 special factors need to be taken into account.
Underlying growth in the third quarter was, therefore, about 0.3% – a welcome improvement but still below the economy’s potential growth rate. Looking at the longer-term picture, GDP is unchanged in the last year, and has grown by only 0.6% in the last 2 years.
PC&PE: The International Development Committee has published its report: Afghanistan - Development progress and prospects after 2014. In it the MPs urge the Government to use UK Aid to improve the lives of Afghan women. The report also calls for DFID to focus less on creating a viable state and more on delivering effective development.
The Chairman of the IDC, the Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, said: ….. "The treatment of women in Afghanistan after troops pull-out in 2014 will be the litmus test of whether we have succeeded in improving the lives of ordinary Afghans over the last ten years.”
PC&PE: In a report published recently, the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee says that Scottish Separation creates the prospect of unilateral nuclear disarmament being imposedupon the Royal Navy and UK government for an indeterminate period, and says that the UK & Scottish government must fully detail the consequences of the removal of Trident as part of the whole secession agreement as soon as is practical.
No vote on separation should go ahead without the Scottish people fully understanding the consequences of separation for defence and the UK's entire nuclear deterrent, which is based & serviced in Scotland. While nuclear weapons in Scotland could be disarmed within days & removed within months, the construction of facilities elsewhere could take upwards of 20 years.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has published the outcomes of its consultation on the future direction of quality assurance in higher education.
Legislation / Legal
MoJ: A new measure announced last week will help prosecutors combat corporate offending including fraud, money laundering & bribery - which cost the UK £bns each year. The measure - a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) - can be made between a prosecutor and an organisation to defer prosecution for alleged economic wrongdoing as long as stringent conditions are met.
If they agree to enter into a DPA, organisations will publicly face up to their wrongdoing and may be required to:
* Make amends to victims
* Pay substantial financial penalties
* Reform their practices to prevent such conduct occurring again
HO: Police prosecution powers are being extended - In a move to cut inefficiency and save time & taxpayers' money, the police will be able to take a raft of new offences through the courts without consulting the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – stripping out duplication & bringing swifter justice for victims.
Police-led prosecutions can now cover over half of all cases heard in Magistrates' Courts. Under the new measures, officers will be able to prosecute criminal damage cases under the value of £5,000, some alcohol & public order offences and driving without due care & attention. The changes will be tested in 9 police force areas to find the best way of working before they are introduced across the country.
DfT: The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Stephen Hammond) has issued a statement regarding some details of the HGV Road User Levy Bill.
ScotGov: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has welcomed the Scottish Civil Justice Council & Criminal Legal Assistance Bill passing Stage 1 of its journey through the Scottish Parliament.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: A new international portal was launched in Brussels recently, which will allow authorities across the world to exchange information about unsafe products that have been taken off the market. The ‘Global Recalls Portal’ is a project developed jointly by the EU & OECD countries including the US, Australia and Canada.
With an expected 3,000 product recall notices per year, consumers, businesses & authorities will have access to a remarkable pool of information on recalled products, enriched on a regular basis by the EU (through RAPEX, the EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products), US, Canadian and Australian authorities.
EU News: The deadline for submitting entries to become European Green Capital 2015 is now closed and Bristol (UK) is among those cities which have entered the competition.
An international Expert Panel will now perform a technical assessment of each entry on the basis of 12 indicators covering climate change & energy performance, sustainable local transport, air quality & noise levels, green urban areas & sustainable land use, promotion of nature & biodiversity, waste management, water consumption & waste water treatment, eco-innovation & sustainable employment, as well as the environmental management practice of the local authority.
EU News: The Council has adopted new rules aimed at equipping the EU budget with simpler financial rules while securing sound treatment of European taxpayers' money. In order to enter into force the new rules have to be published in the Official Journal of the EU. They will become applicable on 1 January 2013..
EU News: In his State of the Union address on 12 September, President Barroso set out an ambitious vision for the EU. The overarching task remains to return the EU to sustainable growth. This is the number one task, and it requires new thinking and targeted action in a limited number of key policy areas. The Commission Work Programme 2013 (CWP), which was adopted recently, sets out how the Commission will work to this end for the next year & beyond.
Defra: The Government has secured another major step towards fundamental reform of the broken Common Fisheries Policy following agreement on the future of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. This agreement will allow funding to be used to support measures such as paying for more selective catching gear that will contribute to eliminating discards, or to fund innovative research projects to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the fishing industry.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed fishing opportunities for 2013 for certain fish stocks in the Atlantic & the North Sea. This proposal sets levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort for stocks managed exclusively by the EU. In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 16 stocks (including certain stocks of cod, Norway lobster, and sole), and reduce them for 47 stocks.
EU News: Recently, the European Commission decided to refer the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for its regime concerning the taxation of transfers of assets abroad. UK legislation provides for a difference in treatment between domestic & cross-border transactions.
The Commission is of the opinion that this restriction is disproportionate, in the sense that it goes beyond what is reasonably necessary in order to prevent abuse or tax avoidance. The referral to the Court of Justice is the last step in the infringement procedure.
EU News: Recently, the European Commission decided to refer the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) for its tax regime concerning the attribution of gains to members of non-resident companies. Under UK legislation, a parent company in the UK is taxed for the capital gains of its subsidiaries in other Member States, while no similar taxation exists when subsidiaries are located in the UK.
The Commission is of the opinion that this restriction is disproportionate, in the sense that it goes beyond what is reasonably necessary in order to prevent abuse or tax avoidance. The referral to the Court of Justice is the last step in the infringement procedure.
WAG: Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, has officially launched an EU-backed initiative helping small businesses in Wales & Ireland to exploit social media to boost their growth and drive forward their competitiveness.
The ACT project (Advanced Communication Technologies) will assist SMEs across West Wales & South East Ireland to understand social media and take advantage of opportunities it can offer for online business growth.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
CO: Vital frontline advice services across England will receive a multi-million pound support package as the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) launches the Advice Services Transition Fund. The Cabinet Office is supporting BIG’s programme by contributing half of the funding.
Alongside the launch of the £65m fund, the Government is publishing a review the not-for-profit social welfare advice sector in England. It shows that the Government has a role to play in supporting the sector to adapt to the new funding realities, but advice providers will also need to take the initiative and change the way they work.
BIG: Last week, at a national event to inspire new thinking about the future of the UK’s public parks under threat, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and BIG Lottery Fund (BIG) announced they will invest £100m for public parks over the next 3 years.
The new-look Parks for People programme aims to get local people more involved in the management of their parks and, for the first time, will provide funding to conserve historic cemeteries and offer help & advice about long term park maintenance.
ACE: Know of a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to an arts or culture project? Nominate them for the first-ever British Volunteer Awards – See ‘In the News’ section for more information. Applications close Tuesday 30 October 2012.
Business and Other Briefings
HEFCE: An online service has been launched to help employers check graduates’ qualifications & recognised degree-awarding bodies. The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) can be used to check that a UK higher education provider existed and was approved by the UK Government at any given date going back to 1990.
Every UK university & college is listed in the database to provide a check on degree awarding status. In response to a query, HEDD provides contact details to direct the user to the appropriate university or college records office. The service is also particularly useful for employers and postgraduate course providers who want to verify degree results, and can be used by graduates to request transcripts and replacement certificates.
GPS: The Government Procurement Service has launched their new monthly round-up of the latest news about our frameworks & procurements, designed to improve the frequency of communications.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL), Business in the Community, British Cycling and the key Cycle to Work Scheme providers have launched a national initiative to help more employers promote cycling in the workplace.
The new Businesscycle website will act as a 'one stop shop' to help the business community & employers create a positive environment to support continued growth in cycling for work journeys.
WAG: A £200,000 fund to kick start the development of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Wales has been announced. The fund has been announced as part of the Government’s response to the Business Rates Review commissioned by the Business Minister and carried out by Prof. Brian Morgan.
Supporting the development of BIDs is also a key aspiration in Vibrant and Viable Places, the Welsh Government’s New Regeneration Framework, which was published for consultation by the Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister earlier last week (see Consultations section).
This Brief explains a change to the way in which we calculate the vehicle restoration fee following seizure for misuse of rebated and other non-road fuels.
STFC: A business incubation scheme launched recently will allow UK-based entrepreneurs & small businesses to take ideas from some of the world’s most innovative technologies developed at CERN, and translate them into marketable services & products.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) have announced a first call for proposals to enable small high-tech businesses to bridge the gap between basic science & industry, and create profitable UK companies.
Defra: Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is leading a trade delegation to Paris to boost British food & drink sales in France. Since 2000, UK food exports to France have doubled from £1.1bn to £2.2bn, including 4 times the sales of cheese such as stilton & cheddar, and triple the sales of whisky & beer.
Food & farming is worth £89bn to the UK economy and employs 3.5m people. In January 2012, Defra launched the Farming, Food and Drink Exports Action Plan to help more food & drink companies venture into overseas markets.
BIS: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has launched its annual Fast Forward competition, to encourage universities & public sector research establishments to collaborate with businesses & local communities on innovative projects that benefit UK society and can help grow the economy.
Now in its third year, Fast Forward has so far provided £1.25m in prizes to 23 winning projects in diverse areas, ranging from the creative industries to medical research and social enterprises. The total prize fund available for this year’s competition is £750,000, which will be awarded to around a dozen projects in individual awards of between £10,000 & £100,000.
ESRC: Researchers at the Centre for Spatial Analysis and Policy, University of Leeds, and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London, have been developing a range of high-technology ways to see & think about the modern city.
An exhibition in Leeds which forms part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science 2012 explains how cities are becoming 'smart' and demonstrates how tools, such as online mapping & modelling, are transforming the urban experience:
Smart Cities: Bridging Physical and Digital
9 & 10 November 2012
ESRC: A recent report by Positive Money ('Banking vs Democracy: The Democratic Deficit in Banking') into the UK's banking system has highlighted that the banks have more spending power than the Government.
But, unlike the Government, the banking system is not accountable to voters and its power is concentrated in the hands of a few people. 5 banks, with branches on most high streets, hold 85% of the UK's money and they have less than 80 board members - individuals whose decisions have the power to shape the economy.
Positive Money will be hosting a debate as part of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science:
Where does money come from?
8 November 2012, 17.30 - 21.00
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