In the News
RCN: Bring back State Enrolled Nurses? - The Royal College of Nursing has committed to play its part in supporting nurse education, following the publication of a report by the Willis Commission on Nursing Education. The report, Quality with Compassion: The Future of Nursing Education, was based on more than 6 months’ work and contains evidence from patients, academics, students & other experts.
Speaking on behalf of the RCN, Dr Carter committed said: ….. “Improvements will need to be made to the profession in the future, notably in the regulation of health care assistants and the need to make all student placements match the very best. However, the evidence in this report makes it very clear – the way to do this is to continue with nursing as an all-graduate profession".
The College supported the commission’s recommendations on the regulation of health care assistants, the closer involvement of the public & patients in nursing education, and the importance of continuing professional development in maintaining a workforce which is safe, qualified & adaptable for the needs of the future.
PC&PE: If 80% is avoidable, wouldn’t it pay to avoid most of it? - The Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published its Report: The management of adult diabetes services in the NHS. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "24,000 people die prematurely every year because their diabetes has not been managed effectively, and many more develop avoidable complications such as blindness and kidney disease.
The NHS spends at least £3.9bn a year on diabetes services and around 80% of that goes on treating avoidable complications. The number of people with diabetes is set to rise from 3.1m to 3.8m between now and 2020 and unless care improves significantly the NHS will face ever-increasing costs”.
TUC: Part of a ‘It should always pay to be in work’ policy? - The TUC has welcomed the announcement from the Living Wage Foundation and the Greater London Authority (GLA) that the guideline rate for the living wage is to rise, but warned that too few large employers are paying the new rate, despite having the resources to do so.
The TUC added that paying the living wage is in the interests of employers, as it improves staff motivation and productivity, and enhances corporate reputations.
MoD: A cut price Armed Forces, or facing financial reality? - Measures to overhaul Britain's Reserve Forces to create a ‘fully integrated Armed Forces’ were unveiled last week as part of a wide-ranging consultation published by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.
The consultation, 'Future Reserves 2020: Delivering the Nation's Security Together', proposes more training for reservists, a 'kitemark-type' award for supportive employers, and the idea of changing the Territorial Army's name to reflect their enhanced role.
Under the proposals employers will be given more certainty about the timing of possible mobilisations and more notice when they occur. The consultation will close on 18 January 2013.
AC: A never ending problem - A new report on local government fraud says that councils are targeting their investigative resources more efficiently & effectively, detecting more than 124,000 cases of fraud in 2011/12 totalling £179 million. But it urges them not to drop their guard, as new frauds are emerging in areas such as business rates, Right to Buy housing discounts and schools.
SOCA: Phillip Schofield please note - The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Child Exploitation & Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and the police & other relevant agencies, under the direction of Keith Bristow, Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA), are carrying out a review & potentially an investigation, into ‘new allegations of historic child sexual abuse at children’s homes in North Wales, as well as a review of historic investigations’.
If you have been a victim of child abuse or you have other relevant information to share you can report this to the NSPCC (see press release for details).
Thought paper: - Making Government ‘Digital By Default’ – Overcoming the Barriers to Public Sector Channel Shift - Making government services digital by default came a step closer to reality with last week's publication of the Government Digital Strategy and Digital Efficiency report by the Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude.
The Digital Strategy sets out how the Government can make up to £1.2 billion worth of savings by 2015 simply by making everyday transactions digital and developing online, web self-service delivery channels.
With government handling over a billion different transactions every year through 650 different services, the cost-saving potential of shifting to self-service channels is enormous.
Against this backdrop, a recent paper, ‘Overcoming the Barriers to Public Sector Channel Shift’ outlines the trends behind channel shift and takes a look at the key barriers to a smooth implementation, most notably the difficulties of integration and security.
Click here to download a free copy of the paper, along with a cutting edge web self-service case study.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a warning to the financial sector after a mix-up over the administration of 2 customers’ accounts led to tens of thousands of pounds, meant for an individual’s retirement fund, ending up in the wrong account. This is the first monetary penalty served by the ICO that doesn’t relate to a significant data loss.
Prudential has been served with a monetary penalty of £50,000 following the incident, which resulted in a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. The original error was caused when the records of both customers, who share the same first name, surname & DoB, were mistakenly merged in March 2007.
MoD: With less than 50 days to go until Christmas the Ministry of Defence is urging the public to consider Service charities as an alternative way of showing their support, rather than sending unsolicited parcels to personnel serving abroad.
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading is warning consumers who wish to access government services to check whether they are visiting the official government website or the website of a business charging for processing services.
Searching on the internet for government services (such as applying for an EHIC card) can bring up websites for businesses which offer to check, review & forward applications for a fee. Advertisements for these businesses may feature prominently in search results. Many government services can be accessed online and can usually be obtained directly from the government at little or no cost.
NHS Confed: The NHS Confederation, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and National Voices have recently come together to carry out a joint project on the reconfiguration of healthcare.
There is a growing consensus that ‘change is needed to take advantage of modern healthcare techniques, meet the needs of an older population, and enable the NHS to live within its means’. The organisations plan to jointly publish the final report at the NHS Confederation annual conference & exhibition in June 2013.
10DS: Microsoft has launched ‘Get On’, a new programme offering young people in the UK the skills and inspiration they need to succeed in getting that all important first job. It aims to help 300,000 16-24 year olds take meaningful steps toward work and the start of a career over the next 3 years, through a combination of education & training, apprenticeships and work experience.
NE: Natural England has teamed up with Butterfly Conservation and the farming community across the country to help save some of our most threatened butterflies. Farmland is an important habitat for butterflies and a new project The Farmland Butterfly Initiative (FBI), aims to support farmers in managing their land to help 7 of the country’s most endangered butterflies.
PCS: The PCS union has said that; ‘A halt to any further prison sell-offs and an independent review are urgently required’, as the government announces that 4 more prisons will be handed to private companies. Of the 8 institutions under consideration, Northumberland, and Moorland, Hatfield and Lindholme near Doncaster are to be privatised, while Coldingley, Durham and Onley will remain in the public sector.
The union remains concerned about the future of public prisons, as justice minister Chris Grayling has made clear further privatisation was likely and non-custodial functions could be outsourced.
TUC: TUC General Secretary Designate, Frances O'Grady, has commented on a Consumer Focus report Jobs, growth and warmer homes published last week, which says that the best way to boost growth & create jobs in the UK is to make the homes of low-income households more energy efficient.
The report claims that significant energy efficiency infrastructure investment paid for by recycled carbon taxes would generate up to 71,000 jobs and boost GDP by 0.2% by 2015. According to the report it would also create up to 130,000 jobs by 2027, lift up to 9 out of 10 households out of fuel poverty, and reduce energy bills in all 'fuel-poor' homes by at least £200 per year.
TfL: Transport for London (TfL) and London boroughs have awarded 4 new area-based joint highways contracts that could save up to £450m during the next 8 years, helping to drive through more than £2bn of investment in road infrastructure.
OFT: The OFT has referred the completed acquisition by Booker Group plc (Booker) of Makro Holding Limited (Makro) to the Competition Commission for further investigation due to concerns that it could reduce competition between cash and carry outlets.
WAG: The centenary of the birth of iconic Welsh poet Dylan Thomas will be celebrated with a year of events across Wales and the world, Business & Tourism Minister Edwina Hart has announced. ‘Dylan Thomas 100’ will be a year-long festival and line-up of events including theatre performances, visual arts, comedy, television, film and exhibitions, to be held across Wales & beyond, to celebrate the life & work of the poet, thanks to funding from the Welsh Government and other partners.
FSA: Asda is withdrawing one date code of its own brand Extra Special Syrup Sponge Puddings because soya is not mentioned on the packaging. If you are allergic or sensitive to soya, do not eat this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert..
Policy Statements and Initiatives
HMT: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has recently announced a boost for engineering skills while opening a state of the art Rolls Royce apprenticeships academy in Derby. The development of new vocational qualifications in engineering will strengthen the value of the qualifications, and encourage more schools to offer engineering courses.
The Royal Academy of Engineering – backed by the Department for Education – will work with employers to re-design the Principal Learning element of the Engineering Diploma into 4 rigorous qualifications, each equivalent to one GCSE. The new qualifications are likely to be included in the Key Stage 4 performance tables from 2016 and the reformed courses are likely to be available to students from September 2014.
ONS: The Office for National Statistics has recently announced that a new additional measure of consumer price inflation will be launched which includes owner occupiers’ housing (OOH) costs. The new index, which will initially be known as CPIH, will measure OOH costs using the rental equivalence method.
This method uses changes in rental prices to measure the costs of owning, living in & maintaining a property. CPIH will be introduced in March 2013 at the same time as the annual CPI/RPI basket of goods & services review.
WAG: The Welsh Government is taking a global lead on promoting the importance of children’s play and for the first time, legislating to place a duty on local authorities to assess the sufficiency of play & recreational opportunities for children in their areas.
Recently regulations & statutory guidance for play ‘sufficiency assessments’ have come into effect, setting out criteria for assessing play opportunities in each local authority area: audits of open spaces, play & recreation provision and other considerations including traffic, transport & community initiatives.
The assessments will be used to develop local authority action plans to improve play opportunities for all children across Wales. The deadline for the completion of assessments is 1 March 2013.
WAG: Environment Minister, John Griffiths, has announced a period of additional work as part of the consultation process into designating marine conservation zones (MCZ) in Wales. A cross-cutting ‘task & finish team’ with members from government agencies and the Welsh Government is being established to advise & make recommendations. The group will report to the Environment Minister by the end of April 2013.
CO: Making government services digital by default came a step closer to reality last week with the publication of the Government Digital Strategy and Digital Efficiency report. The publication of the Digital Strategy fulfils a commitment in June’s Civil Service Reform Plan. The Digital Strategy sets out how the Government can make up to £1.2bn worth of savings by 2015 simply by making everyday transactions digital.
The strategy also sets out plans to improve digital skills across the Civil Service, which have been lacking. All departments will now need to have a digital leader on their executive boards. The strategy also coincides with the publication of the latest figures on reducing the number of Government websites. Since June 2012, 27 more redundant websites have closed, with a reduction of 74 overall over the last year.
HO: Home Secretary's statement on historic allegations of child abuse in north Wales.
WAG: The Welsh Government supports the Mental Health First Aid (Wales) course, which is delivered by Mind Cymru. The programme began in 2007, and this month reached 10,000 participants. The course teaches people about mental health problems and gives them the skills they need to help people in crisis. It covers common mental health issues including alcohol, drugs & depression, crisis first aid for suicidal behaviour, first aid for anxiety & panic attacks, and other issues such as self-harm.
HMT: The Government has announced that it will appoint an interim advisory group to oversee the development of guidance on the new General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR). The GAAR is being introduced to deter & counter abusive tax avoidance, while providing certainty, retaining a tax regime that is attractive to businesses, and minimising costs for taxpayers & HMRC.
WAG: Environment Minister, John Griffiths has launched new planning policy aimed at ensuring the planning system supports the growth of the Welsh economy whilst also staying true to the principles of sustainable development.
WAG: The First Minister Carwyn Jones and Leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood have recently announced an agreement on the Welsh Government's Draft Budget 2013-14.
CO: The Cabinet Office has responded to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report ‘Implementing the transparency agenda’.
DfE: Education & Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss recently announced that calculators would be banned in maths tests for 11-year-olds from 2014. She warned that pupils were using calculators too much too soon at primary school – the current curriculum suggests introducing them at 7.
ScotGov: As set out in the Edinburgh Agreement, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has recently written to the Electoral Commission asking them to test the Scottish Government’s preferred question for the autumn 2014 referendum.
The Electoral Commission will now subject the proposed question ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’ to independent testing before advising on the results in a report to be published before the Referendum Bill is considered by the Scottish Parliament. The Parliament will then decide on the final wording of the question.
BIS: The ‘Civil Enforcement Remedies’ consultation will change the way authorities like Trading Standards enforce the law on behalf of consumers, giving them a range of new powers to use in civil courts that aim to:
* make sure businesses abide by consumer law and increase good practice
* reimburse consumers for money lost
* boost consumer confidence and empower them to exercise greater choice
Proposals include giving courts the option of making a business designate a point person who will look at how well a business complies with consumer law. Another option could include introducing a clear complaints-handling scheme so customers know exactly who to contact for help when they have a problem.
Other proposals will make it easier for consumers to find out which businesses they can trust and which they cannot. The consultation closes on 31 December 2012.
CLG: Councils would be free to pump as much as £22bn more of pension fund investments into infrastructure supporting the Government's ambitions to build more homes, roads or high speed railway under proposals announced by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles last week.
The proposals would potentially allow councils to double the amount they can legally invest from their pension funds directly into key infrastructure projects in a new & more efficient way that ensures long-term value for the taxpayer. Consultation closes on 18 December 2012.
WAG: The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on its draft Clean Air for Port Talbot short term action plan. Air quality has significantly improved in Wales though there is still room for improvement, particularly in Port Talbot. Historically, the town has a high level of pollution that is generally attributed to the industrial nature of the area. In addition, there are also emissions derived from road transport and nearby industrial sites.
The Welsh Government has produced a Clean Air for Port Talbot short term action plan to address measures that can be taken, in addition to everyday activities, where there is a risk of particulate matter limit values being exceeded. Comments received from the public and local interest groups during this consultation period will be used to develop a final plan. The consultation closes on 29 January 2013.
In 2013 a second public consultation on a revised plan will be carried out.
DWP: A call for evidence on the impact of 2 statutory constraints on the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), one of the pension schemes employers can choose for automatic enrolment, was published last week. The Government is seeking views & evidence on whether the annual contribution limit & transfer restrictions on NEST are influencing employers’ choice of automatic enrolment scheme in a way that was not intended. The call for evidence ends on 28 January 2013.
DfT: Stephen Hammond MP has issued a written statement announcing the publication of a consultation document which aims to examine whether the speed limit for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes on single carriageways, is set at the right level. The consultation will run until 1 February 2013.
DH: Proposed changes to the NHS Constitution will give patients stronger rights Health Minister Norman Lamb announced recently. Single sex accommodation will be included in the constitution for the first time, along with stronger rights for patients to be told about mistakes and a right to have complaints acknowledged within 3 working days.
The change is part of a wider consultation, launched recently, asking the public and the NHS how they think NHS Constitution can be strengthened. The proposed changes to the NHS Constitution would be the first major set of changes since it was introduced 3 years ago. The consultation will close on 28 January 2013.
TfL: Local residents & businesses are being invited to comment on proposals to extend the Northern line from Kennington to Battersea via Nine Elms. The proposed plans - which are subject to funding & permission from the Government - would include 2 new Tube stations at Battersea and Nine Elms.
2 previous consultations have showed that there is strong support for the 3km Northern line Tube link which would help regenerate Vauxhall & Nine Elms and support up to 25,000 jobs & 16,000 new homes. The Consultation will close on 16 December 2012.
MoD: Measures to overhaul Britain's Reserve Forces to create a ‘fully integrated Armed Forces’ were unveiled last week as part of a wide-ranging consultation published by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. The consultation will close on 18 January 2013 - See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
FCO: Guidelines for British nationals who intend to visit India for the England cricket tour in late 2012, early 2013.
Between now and 28 January 2013 the England Cricket team will play 4 test matches, two T20 games and 5 one-day internationals in India. If you are one of the large number of British fans planning to visit India to watch the games, see the full press release for some tips to help you enjoy a trouble-free trip.
DH: A new training programme supporting NHS staff to ethically procure goods & services has been launched. The FREE training programme is funded by the Department of Health, and developed in partnership with the BMA and the Ethical Trading Initiative.
The training is designed to support the Ethical Procurement for Health workbook launched in 2011. Together, they provide practical advice for healthcare buyers, helping them to identify poor labour standards and take action through the procurement process and engagement with suppliers.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has published a collection of essays entitled Comply or Explain: 20th Anniversary of the UK Corporate Governance Code to mark the 20th anniversary of the Cadbury Code, which introduced the UK’s ‘comply or explain’ approach to best practice in the organisation of corporate boardrooms and their relations with shareholders.
The FRC is responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance & reporting to foster investment. They set the UK Corporate Governance and Stewardship Codes as well as UK standards for accounting, auditing and actuarial work.
HEFCE: The projected performance for the higher education sector in England for the period to 2014-15 is sound overall, although this is heavily dependent on the sector achieving its student recruitment targets.
Recent information from UCAS & higher education institutions (HEIs) indicates that 2012-13 student demand is lower than forecast by the sector, and that some institutions are recruiting fewer students than expected. This suggests that enrolments will also be down, and increases the risk that financial performance for these institutions will be poorer than anticipated.
Higher Education Funding Council England do not yet know whether the reduction in enrolments is a one-off or permanent, and we will monitor this closely over the coming year.
DfE: New figures that show which of England’s bathing waters have met strict quality standards have been published by Defra. The figures show that 93% of England’s bathing waters met the minimum European water quality standard, with over 58% meeting the tighter guideline standard following one of the wettest summers on record. The original EU Bathing Water Directive will be replaced by the revised Directive in 2015.
A number of bathing water sites failed to meet the required standards. This is due to some waters in England remaining vulnerable to the effects of very heavy rainfall as pollution is washed from cities & rural areas into our rivers & streams.
AS: Re-offending is a continuing problem in Scotland. A range of bodies provide many services to reduce re-offending, but there is a mismatch between what is delivered and what is known to work.
Reconviction rates have remained relatively static over the past decade, and 30% of offenders are reconvicted within one year. In 2010/11, 9,500 people convicted (one in five of convicted offenders) had at least ten previous convictions.
The Audit Scotland report says Community Justice Authorities have struggled to achieve their role of improving joint working, due to the way they were set up and inflexible funding. It says the Scottish Government should review how offenders are managed in the community to ensure that: those working with offenders have clear and shared goals; there is clear accountability; and arrangements promote what is effective in reducing re-offending.
General Reports and Other Publications
PC&PE: In a recent report, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee says that some local authorities, under considerable pressure to quickly find cost savings, have drawn up plans without taking proper account of local needs for library services and the variety of options available to provide them, and are therefore in danger of failing in their statutory duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient' library service.
Other councils, however, have found innovative & cost-effective ways of continuing to supply - and in some cases improve - their library service.
PC&PE: The Department for Education must maintain sufficient focus on the critical children’s policy agenda to ensure this is given adequate resources and receives enough attention from senior officials and ministers, warn MPs.
The DfE should also consider appointing a non-executive Board member with expertise in children's policy issues, and must do more improve staff morale, says the Education Committee in a review of governance & leadership at the DfE.
PC&PE: The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has published a report highlighting areas of the Government's Apprenticeships programme that need reform. The publication of the report - Apprenticeships - is the culmination of an 11 month inquiry that involved visits to Sheffield & Northampton to hear directly from people involved in apprenticeship schemes as well as the more traditional Westminster-based evidence sessions.
NO: London Borough of Newham delayed almost 18 months in cancelling a temporary tenancy when a tenant moved into permanent council accommodation, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report, she says that the delay resulted in rent arrears of nearly £4,000 accumulating and, for this reason, the Council refused her an emergency housing transfer when the woman fled domestic violence a few years later.
The Ombudsman finds that the Council’s failure to cancel the temporary tenancy for nearly 18 months was maladministration. If it had acted promptly, the complainant’s rent arrears would have been at a much lower level, and the Ombudsman considers it likely that the complainant would have paid them off. Once the Council adjusted the arrears, its failure to reconsider her for a housing transfer was also maladministration.
ESRC: 'Social medicines' are beneficial to the health & wellbeing of individuals and the population. By combining social & biological information from UK Longitudinal studies (life-course studies) researchers have identified that the more ‘social medicines’ you have, the better your physical & mental health.
These include a stable family life, stress free childhood, alcohol free culture for young people, secure & rewarding employment, positive relationships with friends & neighbours, and a socially active old age.
TKF: The way the NHS currently pays hospitals for the work they do – including Payment by Results – should change to incentivise new models of care, concludes a report, Payment by Results: How can payment systems help to deliver better care?, published recently by The King’s Fund.
While recognising the positive impact that Payment by Results has had on the NHS in England, the report suggests that current payment systems may be obstructing changes in services required to meet current & future health care needs.
WWF: The risk of flooding & water shortage in 2013 has increased because the Government is too slow in changing the way we manage our water, environmental leaders warn.
The authors of the ‘Blueprint for Water’ report say that after 2 dry winters, it took Britain’s wettest ever summer to narrowly avert a serious drought. They warn that despite this summer’s flooding, another series of dry winters would put Britain right back under serious risk of drought.
NAO: A report published by the National Audit Office highlights the considerable challenge faced by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in taking forward the clean-up of Sellafield, the UK’s largest & most hazardous nuclear site.
To date the performance of some of the major projects at Sellafield has been poor. However, the Authority is taking appropriate steps with Sellafield Limited to improve this. It is too early to judge whether the Authority’s appointment of Nuclear Management Partners Limited as the ‘parent body’ of Sellafield Limited is delivering value for money.
PC&PE: The Liaison Committee has published a report reviewing the role, resources and tasks of the committees appointed by the House of Commons to scrutinise the Government.
Drawing on reports from committees, evidence from outside observers & academic research, the report concludes that 2 years after the general election and the Wright reforms, the evidence is ‘broadly encouraging’ – although committees face some obstacles and there is room for improvement.
PC&PE: The child protection system is not meeting the needs of older children and must be reviewed urgently according to a report from the Education Committee. In a report that recognises the recent positive developments in the child protection system in England, the Education Committee calls for changes to ensure that all children are treated as children and that their interests are put first.
The Committee's report examines 3 key themes: neglect, older children and thresholds for intervention, taking children into care and adoption.
IfG: For over 3 years the Institute for Government has documented how the departmental cuts programmes have been tackled in government departments and identifies essential recommendations to help them prepare for the prospect of further reductions.
54,000 staff have been cut from the Civil Service in 18 months, more than was achieved over 4 years in the 1980s. Cuts have been described by civil servants as “salami slicing…with some great big chunks”, but further savings will instead require radical new ways of working across Whitehall silos. The report highlights departments’ experiences of leading change, positive & negative experiences and identifies where it has been more challenging & why.
NAO: The National Audit Office has found that ‘while the first private company to be awarded a franchise to run an NHS hospital has made early improvements in some clinical areas, a number of financial challenges remain’.
Circle is the first private company to assume the management functions of an NHS Trust. Last week’s report examines how the NHS East of England Strategic Health Authority designed, initiated & managed the project to franchise Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, and highlights early lessons that can be learnt from the procurement process and creation of the franchise agreement.
Monitor; Initial findings published from Monitor’s Fair Playing Field review show the commissioning of patient services has been the most common concern raised so far by respondents. Providers of all types are concerned that commissioners are not tendering as much as they could, making it difficult for new providers to enter the market and develop new services.
Providers are also worried about poor commissioning procedures which favour incumbent providers at the expense of potential new bidders, according to a discussion paper issued by Monitor half way through the review.
CBI: A new CBI report, Playing Our Strongest Hand: Maximising the UK’s Industrial Opportunities, sets out a joined-up approach to industrial strategy, providing indicative sector-specific action plans to make the most of the substantial opportunities for growth in key sectors.
Legislation / Legal
LGA: Residents & local authorities could be left powerless to have a say on where mobile phone masts are sited under new Government proposals to deregulate planning laws.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England & Wales, is warning that a clause in the Growth & Infrastructure Bill aimed at increasing access to broadband, could have ‘alarming implications’ and create an unintended ‘phone mast free-for-all’.
HO: Unscrupulous metal thieves who steal from war memorials will soon face tough new penalties, Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne warned last week. New powers will stop cash being paid for metal and give the police stronger powers to target rogue traders. These changes will take effect on the 3 December 2012.
In addition, the Scrap Metal Dealer's Bill (which wastabled by Richard Ottaway MP) is expected to receive parliamentary approval in the New Year.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Cebr: A distinctly worse Eurozone outlook is likely, according to the latest global forecasts by Cebr, the economics consultancy. The think tank now forecasts that the Eurozone recession will continue through 2013 and only marginal growth is likely for 2014.
Although UK growth is likely to be held back by the weakness in its Continental trading partners, UK GDP growth for 2013 & 2014 is likely to be faster in each year than in any of the major European economies.
EU News: The European Commission has decided to add another 120 MHz to the radio spectrum portfolio for 4G technologies, such as LTE (Long Term Evolution), around the 2 GHz band. This band is currently solely used for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) wireless communications, known as 3G networks.
The Decision makes it mandatory for Member States to open the relevant spectrum by 30 June 2014 at the latest, and lays down harmonised technical conditions to allow coexistence between different technologies. On this basis the EU will enjoy up to twice the amount of spectrum for high speed wireless broadband as in the United States, namely around 1000 MHz.
CLG: Business entrepreneurs emerging from West Midlands universities will continue to be able to access vital support to get a new business venture off the ground, with the announcement of an additional £4m investment to support the programme over the next 3 years.
Following on from the success of the SPEED WM programme, phase 2 called SPEED Plus will provide 600 graduates and students with the opportunity to access tailored advice & support focussed on how to get a business idea off the ground.
WWF: Sustainable marine industries, prosperous coastal communities and a healthy marine environment for generations to come can be achieved for the Celtic Sea and other marine areas if new recommendations are followed, says a new report from the PISCES Group.
The report, co-funded by the European Commission and WWF-UK is the result of a unique 3 year collaboration between the marine sectors of England, Wales, France and Ireland that share the Celtic Sea.
EU News: The European Commission has launched an anti-subsidy (‘countervailing duty’) investigation into imports of solar panels and their key components (i.e. solar cells and solar wafers) originating in China. An anti-dumping investigation concerning the same product was initiated on 6 September 2012 and is on-going (see MEMO 12/647).
CH: Britain's somewhat single-minded concern for discipline & restraint has not allowed it to draw full political benefit from the EU budget, either on its targets or on its control, writes James Spence in the November issue of Chatham House’s International Affairs. Rather than showing a consistent interest in promoting certain policy sectors, Britain has historically argued primarily for constraint & restraint, argues Spence.
Elsewhere, Julie Smith, a senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge, says that over the past 4 decades the effect of EU membership on Britain's political parties has been one of 'division and fragmentation'. 'Incapable of shaping the agenda as effectively... the parties have rendered the EU even less attractive to a sceptical public and the press.'
The role played by the media in shaping opinion on European matters is examined in an article by international relations scholar Oliver Daddow. He alights on the 'Murdoch effect', a phenomenon which, by convincing politicians they should fear both the EU and the press, has altered the terms of the debate across the political spectrum.
EU News: In a strategic Communication adopted recently, the Commission examines how the implementation & development of the common visa policy could help growth in the EU by facilitating travel opportunities for third country nationals willing to visit the EU.
EU News: The European Commission took an important step last week towards long-term climate objectives by presenting a proposal to significantly reduce emissions of fluorinated gases (F-gases).
Emissions of F-gases, which have a warming effect up to 23,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, have risen by 60% since 1990, while all other greenhouse gases have been reduced. The proposed Regulation aims to reduce F-gas emissions by two-thirds of today's levels by 2030.
It also bans the use of F-gases in some new equipment, such as household fridges, where viable more climate-friendly alternatives are readily available.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has submitted proposals to the EU that include plans for Europe’s largest marine area of nature conservation in waters west of Scotland. The designation of Hatton Bank as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), located approximately 500 km west of Lewis, would cover an area of 15,694 square kilometres – more than 10 times the size of Fife.
Hatton Bank would form part of a package of five new SACs in offshore waters to the west & north of Scotland. The new sites would collectively cover an area larger than the entire Highlands region and contribute to the Marine Protected Areas network, an EU requirement under the Habitats Directive.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DWP: Over £1m has now been awarded as part of a programme to help bolster small grassroots disability organisations, the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey announces last week. The programme is now set to be extended to Northern Ireland so that other organisations can benefit from the £3m fund which was launched last summer.
The Disabled Peoples User Led Organisations (DPULO) programme is making a significant difference to grassroots organisations and their local communities through awards from the Facilitation Fund to organisations such as the Communication for Blind and Disabled People. Any organisations wishing to bid for money for specific projects and help shape the future provision for disabled people can do so by visiting the website.
BHF: A new map showing death rates from heart & circulatory disease among older people has highlighted a growing gap between our richest & poorest communities. BHF's Hearty Lives programme is helping to tackle inequalities across the UK through local partnership working & tailored projects for those who need them the most.
VSO: A new health policy protecting the rights of community caregivers will help tens of thousands of women caring for people with HIV, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Prime Minister Ms Thokozani Khupe said at a conference hosted by VSO last week in Pretoria, South Africa.
The Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe plans to implement the policy from the beginning of 2013 by training carers, providing them with health kits and recognising their right to remuneration. They will also be working with NGOs & community organisations to mobilise men to care for the sick, reducing the burden on women.
VSO Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa (VSO RAISA) has called for this policy since 2010. The organisation is campaigning across southern Africa and hopes that similar policies could be introduced in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. A conference on 21 November 2012 will bring together the health ministers & parliamentarians from the 6 countries to encourage them to develop similar policies to Zimbabwe.
BIG: A global children’s charity has received close to £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to protect girls at risk of forced marriage & female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone. Plan UK is among 6 projects sharing over £2.6m funding from Big Lottery Fund’s International Communities programme, which supports projects tackling the causes of poverty and deprivation and the impact they have on people’s lives.
Business and Other Briefings
GPS: All planned Government Procurement Service (GPS) ICT procurements have been paused pending the outcome of an internal review to ensure they are aligned with strategy & achieving the best results for buyers & suppliers. The review is currently underway and expected to be completed by the end of November 2012.
ScotGov: Planning consent has been granted for a wind farm which will bring £30m in to the Highland economy and generate £500,000 a year for local communities, including scholarships to send local young people into further education.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has approved the Beinneun wind farm, near Invergarry, Highlands. The 85 megawatt wind farm will have 25 turbines and generate up to the equivalent of the energy needs of 40,000 homes. The wind farm will bring 90 jobs to the area during the 2 years of construction and employ 3 people directly and 3 indirectly.
DECC: Innovators with novel ideas to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy have been invited to get their ideas off the drawing board and into turbines out at sea with the launch of 2 competitions.
As highlighted in the Offshore Wind Technology Innovation Needs Assessment (TINA) published by the Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG) in February 2012, offshore wind has tremendous potential to reduce the UK’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, helping cut carbon and meet the UK’s renewables targets. Innovation is key to improving efficiency & cutting costs, but further investment is needed in this area.
Up to £7m is available under the 3rd round of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) component technologies development & demonstration scheme. DECC and TSB expect to help fund between 5 and 10 projects, depending on the volume and quality of the applications received and the deadline for applications to DECC is noon on 16 January 2013. Potential applicants are encouraged to attend the briefing event on 13 November 2012 before submitting an application.
DECC: Energy Minister John Hayes has given Chevron North Sea Ltd consent to drill the deepwater Cambo-5 well, West of the Shetland Isles.. Chevron is to drill the well as substitute operator on behalf of the block licence operator, Hess Limited, and the Cambo co-venturers. The Cambo-5 well, in Block 204/5a, is 136 kilometres west of the Shetland Isles in a water depth of approximately 1,090 metres.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has subjected Chevron’s applications, including the environmental impact assessment and emergency response plan, to detailed & extensive scrutiny, and the Health & Safety Executive has undertaken a thorough examination of the well design & drilling plan, with no objections to the proposals.
OS: More NHS organisations than ever before are using innovative mapping technologies to help improve local health services. From reducing obesity in Birmingham to plotting hotspots of low immunisation take up in Essex, Ordnance Survey’s intelligent geographic information is being used in a wide range of settings to inform healthcare decision-making.
Accessing digital maps has never been easier thanks to the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) – a centrally funded licensing agreement between Government & Ordnance Survey which allows geographic data to be widely available, free at the point of use and shared between all public sector organisations across England & Wales. A record 2,500 public sector organisations have now registered for the PSMA.
LGA: The Local Government Association have responded to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report into libraries. The LGA launched a report called 'Local Solutions for future local libraries' at its annual conference this year. It aims to act as a guide for councils which can't afford to keep library services going in their current form, but want to avoid simply closing doors.
It stresses the importance of listening to communities, involving staff, finding alternative funding and combining services, and lists dozens of local case studies of innovation. Download the publication here:
As part of their work supporting councils, the LGA and ACE are running a FREE libraries leadership seminar for members on 12 December 2012.
IoE: The first London Festival of Education will take place at the Institute of Education on Saturday, 17 November 2012
At no other education event this year will you be able to enjoy so rich or varied a range of speakers, debates, experiences & ideas. You can move from listening to world-leading thinkers to looking at stunning films by secondary pupils, from debating the drivers of quality teaching to joining the ukulele sessions, from a behaviour management clinic to exploring the Raspberry Pi.
ACE: Organisations across the country are being invited to take part in the UK's biggest climate change campaign, Climate Week, which takes place from 4-10 March 2013.
Climate Week is a national campaign to inspire a new wave of action on climate change. By showcasing real, practical ways to combat climate change, the campaign aims to renew our ambition to create a more sustainable, low-carbon future.
You can get involved by organising events to tie in with the week, as well as putting your current activities forward for awards. The Climate Week Awards recognise the most inspirational and impressive actions taking place in every sector of society.
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