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

In the News

NHS Confed:  We need to find better alternatives to just doling out pills - Paddy Cooney, interim director of the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network says improving care of people with schizophrenia will require greater joint working within the NHS and a change in attitude, in response to the report from the Schizophrenia Commission.

He commented:  "There is plenty of good work going on in the NHS to improve the care that people with schizophrenia receive.  This report highlights many examples of these.  But we still hear too many unacceptable stories about people not receiving the right care in the right settings, or of people's physical health not being properly looked after.

Improving the health and care of people with schizophrenia will require real progress in the kinds of treatments and therapies we provide, and greater joint working to improve the access service users have to wider NHS services.  Most importantly, it will require a change in attitude to the way the NHS, and society as a whole, views people living with this condition.

The Commission reiterates that the most successful interventions occur when people play an active role in shaping their own care plans to achieve the outcomes important to them, and where carers are closely involved”.
Press release & links ~ MIND: Understanding schizophrenia ~ NHS Choices: Symptoms of schizophrenia ~ Rethink ~ RC Psych ~ NICE: Core interventions in the treatment & management of schizophrenia in primary & secondary care (update) ~ 10,000 people in Wales trained as Mental Health First Aiders ~ Life does get under your skin ~ NHS Confederation - Mental Health Network comments on use of police custody facilities as places of safety ~ Together for Mental Health - first strategy of its kind for Wales ~ CIPD - Fall in absence levels could be masking deeper problems in the workplace ~ NHS Confederation - First map of Mental Health market provides comprehensive survey of current provider landscape ~ CQC publishes the views of more than 15,000 people using community mental health services ~ NHS Confederation - Government launches new suicide prevention strategy ~ BIG support for those who hear voices and for diverse communities in Wales ~ IPCC to investigate death of man following arrest in Leicester ~ ScotGov: New mental health strategy ~ National framework to improve mental health and wellbeing published ~ Employers urged to take 3 steps to improve mental health ~ Employers urged to offer flexible working to support mental health needs ~ Improve your knowledge of guidance on common mental health problems ~ NHS Confederation - Mental health leaders need to up their game in tackling homelessness ~ DH: We should answer their calls for help ~ DH: Being flexible could keep the costs down (4th item) ~ MoD: The latest round of redundancies won’t exactly boost morale (4th item) ~ MOD's veterans' Medical Assessment Programme moved and renamed

EU News
Perhaps less testosterone in boardrooms would lead to more equitable pay levels? -  Last week the European Commission took action ‘to break the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from top positions in Europe’s biggest companies’.  

The Commission has proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of SMEs.

Currently, boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively.  Despite an intense public debate and some voluntary initiatives, only an incremental average increase of the number of women on boards of just 0.6 percentage points per year has been recorded since 2003.

Press release & links ~ Business Secretary’s statement on EC’s proposed directive on improving gender balance on Europe’s corporate boards ~ CBI comments on EC proposals for improving gender diversity in boardrooms ~ Women and Equalities Minister sets out plans to remove barriers to the workplace ~ Defence organisations top workplace equality lists ~ EU News:  One notes that most ‘top bankers’ are male, which illustrates the point being made rather nicely ~ 30% Club campaign for diversity ~ BIS: Women on Boards ~ Simpler company reporting to focus on transparency and gender balance ~ Women on boards: code of conduct one year on ~ Women on Boards: One-Year-On ~ Women on Boards: Vice-President Viviane Reding meets with leaders of Europe's business schools and industry ~ Campaign for more women on boards hits major milestone ~ UK stands up for British business ~ Headhunters & chairmen encouraged to do more to increase female non-execs on FTSE boards ~ Progress in gender equality leads to economic growth, says European Commission report ~ European Commission weighs options to break the ‛glass ceiling’ for women on company boards ~ Cameron wrong on boardroom quotas

Good to see that this ICT project is being trialled with pathfinders rather than immediately being implemented nationally - Across the country 100,000 people are set to benefit from new health technologies, Jeremy Hunt said last week, as he set out his vision for improving the lives of people with long-term conditions

This followed publication of the NHS Mandate last week where he announced that significant progress will be made towards 3m people being able to benefit from telehealth by 2017.

Jeremy Hunt confirmed that 7 ‘pathfinders’ – NHS & local authority organisations including clinical commissioning groups – are to agree contracts with industry suppliers that will mean 100,000 people being able to benefit from telehealth next year

Research funded by the Department of Health showed that using telehealth could result in a 20% reduction in emergency admissions, a 15% reduction in A&E visits and a 45% reduction in mortality.  Leading technology companies will be supplying the NHS with the technologies & services at no upfront cost.
TUCThis is more about ‘Government Control’ than ‘Regulating for common benefit’ - Proposals to place the internet under the control of a UN technical body could restrict political freedoms and harm civil society, the TUC has warned. 

The TUC has joined a global campaign - co-ordinated by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) - against plans to regulate the internet that are being put forward by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and due to be discussed in Dubai in December 2012.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow launched Stop the Net Grab (and a petition) at a press conference in London, alongside Paul Twomey, the ex-head of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the body which co-ordinates the allocation of internet addresses worldwide.

The ITU is a UN body, set up initially to regulate telegrams, and later telephones & faxes.  A coalition of countries including China, Russia and Iran is now seeking to give the ITU (and ultimately individual governments), the power to control internet use, regulating not just the network infrastructure, but the internet uses people and organisations are allowed to make.
TNA:  Better access to historical documents might help us to learn from our past mistakes - The National Archives want to hear your views on their online services.  Your feedback will help them improve their website.  The survey is entirely anonymous and should only take 5 minutes to complete.
COTime to start ‘re-tuning’ your favourite government links - Just one month after the successful launch of GOV.UK, the next phase in establishing a single domain for all government services & information has begun with the first 2 departmental websites moving their corporate & policy information to GOV.UK.

The home pages of the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities & Local Government and of 3 associated agencies & bodies – the Driving Standards Agency, the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC), and the Planning Inspectorate – are now available on GOV.UK.

During the next 18 months, hundreds more government websites are set to follow.  Over time, this move, alongside the savings from closing the DirectGov and Business Link sites, is expected to save the taxpayer at least £50m annually.

Case Study: - Transformation & Channel Shift Programme Delivers £300k Savings for Harrow Council - With £300k savings in the last twelve months and an anticipated £1m over three years, Harrow Council’s “Customer Access” Transformation Programme proves channel shift really works, a fact that was recently recognised by the accolade of ‘Best Transformation Through IT’ at the 2012 MJ Awards.


A recent case study details the channel shift philosophy that is at the heart of Harrow’s on-going Transformation Programme. In addition to substantial and demonstrable savings, highlights include:

  • 90% of calls answered in under 30 seconds  
  • 62% of all contacts now come through the council website
  • Average cost per enquiry reduced by 65%
  • 72% reduction in Housing Benefit enquiries  

Click here to receive the full case study find out more about Harrow council’s on-going plans to drive down avoidable contact, improve service delivery and reduce costs.

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

General News

FSAHarrods is recalling Rose Prince mincemeat & mince pies because the products contain various allergens which are not listed on the label. If you are allergic to or intolerant of wheat (gluten), nuts, milk or eggs, do not eat these products. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert..
FSAHarrods is recalling certain date codes of Leonidas Fresh Belgian Chocolates because the products contain allergens that are not declared in the ingredients list.   If you are allergic to or have an intolerance of wheat (gluten), nuts, milk or egg, do not eat this product. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
MoD; The Army has brought in bestselling novelist & former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier Andy McNab to kick-start a new scheme designed to help soldiers to develop their literacy & numeracy skills.  This comes as recent Government figures show that 15% of the working age population in England are at or below the literacy level expected of an 11-year-old.

The scheme, which is known as the 'Six Book Challenge', will be trialled in the North of England, Germany and Cyprus.  If successful, it will be opened up to the wider Army.
TNA: The latest version of Discovery, The National Archives’ new catalogue, is now available so you can search their collections more easily.
ScotGov: A new course to train more lip-reading tutors and provide wider access to crucial communication support for people with a hearing loss has begun. 14 students are among the first wave of lip-reading tutors who will complete a 9 month course run by the Scottish Course to Train Tutors of Lip-reading. It is estimated that 850,000 people in Scotland are affected by some degree of hearing loss.
EHWar Memorials Online brings together for the first time information on the UK’s war memorials held by the leading experts, providing a snapshot of war memorials across the country.  It will also provide an unprecedented opportunity for the public to upload images of war memorials and log concerns for the conservation of these important community and historical sources for future generations.
MoD: The Medical Assessment Programme (MAP) - a veteran's mental health service - is moving from London to the Department of Community Mental Health Chilwell, in Nottingham, and has been renamed the Veterans & Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP).
WAGCredit Union members across North Wales can now bank securely online thanks to a new website launched by North Wales Credit Union. The website, created with £7,000 in funding support from the Welsh Government’s Communities 2.0 digital inclusion project, offers round the clock access for Credit Union current account customers who wish to manage their money online.
OFT: Consumers should not feel obliged to buy products or services just because they invited a doorstep trader into their home, the OFT has urged as part of its doorstep selling campaign. The renewed campaign, which coincides with National Consumer Week, is reminding people that high pressure sales tactics can be illegal and that they do not need to sign or buy anything on the spot
ACEArts Council England has opened a commissioned grant application for one organisation to deliver a small grants scheme for early to mid-career musicians in the contemporary popular sector.   They are aware that changes to the recording industry, particularly following the development of digital technology, mean that investment in talent development is more limited than it once was.
They are therefore investing £500,000 from April 2013 until March 2015 to pilot this scheme, which will provide support to the most distinctive emerging artists to develop their potential in the commercial music industry.
MoD4 new Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) tankers, which will be bought as part of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) programme, will be called the Tide Class.   The 37,000-tonne ships will come into service from 2016 to replace the RFA's single-hulled tankers, and will maintain the Royal Navy's dedicated bulk fuel replenishment at sea capabilities.
ACEArts Council England has announced the 22 projects that will share approximately £55,000 to test automatic library membership for children & young people. It is hoped these projects will lead to an increase in children, young people & families using their local libraries and stimulate more reading for pleasure.
TfL: Londoners can now check on Crossrail's tunnelling & construction progress using a new, online mapping tool. The 'near you' tool overlays the rail line's route & construction sites onto a map of the city.  Viewers can zoom in to see where the tunnelling machines are, which sections are complete, and which areas are next.
MoD: With the centenary of the First World War just 18 months away, the RAF Museum is asking members of the public what objects from its archives they would like to see on display to explain the role of aviation in this momentous event.
HOFind out which candidates have been elected as the first police & crime commissioners across the 41 police force areas where elections took place.
DH: The first Mandate between the Government & the NHS Commissioning Board, setting out the ambitions for the health service for the next 2 years, has been published. The Mandate reaffirms the Government’s commitment to an NHS that remains comprehensive & universal – available to all, based on clinical need and not ability to pay – and that is able to meet patients’ needs and expectations now and in the future.
The NHS Mandate is structured around 5 key areas where the Government expects the NHS Commissioning Board to make improvements:
* preventing people from dying prematurely
* enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions
* helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
* ensuring that people have a positive experience of care
* treating & caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DfE: Michael Gove has called on more people to adopt children.  The call comes as it has emerged that more than 4,200 children are ready for adoption but have not yet been able to move in with a family – a figure that has grown by 650 in each of the last two years.

The Secretary of State, who was adopted when he was 4 months old, said he wants other children to have the same early settled experience of a secure & loving home.  The Government is introducing a new shorter 2-stage process for prospective adopters; and has introduced changes aimed at ensuring swifter use of the adoption register by councils, and scorecards that show the difference in delay for children in different councils.
The Government has also announced that First4Adoption, a consortium of Coram, Coram Children’s Legal Centre and Adoption UK, has won the contract for the National Gateway for Adoption.  From next year this will for the first time provide a first point of contact for anyone who is interested in adoption, through a telephone helpline and a website.
CO: A deal enabling the Department for International Development (DFID) to vacate offices on Palace Street, next to Buckingham Palace, and move to a freehold block owned by the government will save tax payers £62.5m. The Government Property Unit – part of the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group – worked with DFID to secure an early exit from a lease on the 160,000 sq. ft. office at 1 Palace Street.  
Since May 2010 the government has reduced the running cost of its estate by over £350m, exiting over 1,070 buildings across the country.  Just last month the iconic Admiralty Arch was leased raising £60m and saving the running costs for what was a vacant building.
DH: Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter has called for veterans to come forward and get services to help improve their physical & mental health.  The Department of Health has £5m available to spend on new prosthetics centres for veterans in 2013.  The money is part of a £22m package to support veterans’ physical & mental health from 2010 to 2015.To get the funding, veterans should contact their local GP or NHS disablement service.
So far this year, 32 veterans applied to get high specification prosthetic equipment, such as computer controlled knee units & specialist feet. The DH has committed to funding clinically appropriate prosthetics for any veteran in England who has lost a limb in the service of their country. There are currently an estimated 1,335 veteran amputees in UK and the majority live in England.
WAG: A new mortgage guarantee scheme to help people take the first step onto or to move up the property ladder will be rolled out in the Spring of 2013 the Welsh Government has announced.
Rather than funding being made directly available to buyers, the Welsh Government and house builders will act as guarantors so that buyers can secure high loan to value mortgages that would not otherwise be available to them.  Buyers will contribute a 5% deposit.
No.10: As part of the Government’s determination to keep up momentum on education reform and drive up standards, the Prime Minister has announced that Government will turn around 400 more of the weakest primary schools.
Speaking ahead of a special Cabinet meeting at one of England’s leading academies, the Prime Minister said that, by the end of next year,‘400 more struggling primary schools would be paired up with sponsors to convert them into Academies’.
DECC: A transformation in the way energy is used across the UK economy could help boost growth & jobs, and investing in energy efficiency could save up to 22 power stations-worth of energy by 2020, according to the Government’s Energy Efficiency Strategy published last week.
The new Strategy is aimed at changing the way energy is used in sectors such as housing, transport & manufacturing over the coming decades.  It also includes immediate action to kick start a revolution in UK energy efficiency, including:
* £39m to fund 5 centres examining business & household energy demand
* An energy efficiency labelling trial with John Lewis
* A drive on financing energy efficiency for business & the public sector
BISReforms that will allow both parents to share up to a year’s leave to look after their new-born children, were announced by Deputy PM, Nick Clegg last week.  Under the new system of flexible parental leave, parents will be able to choose how they share care of their child in the first year after birth.  Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave.  However, working parents will be able to opt to share the leave.
Press release & links
ScotGovChildren with complex additional support needs will have access to high quality services delivered where possible in their community. This is one of the main recommendations in the Doran review, published last week, to provide the best opportunities for children in Scotland with complex additional support needs.
PC&PE: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published a report on the Justice and Security Bill, following its earlier Report on the Green Paper in April 2012.   The Committee welcomes some of the significant changes which have been made to the Green Paper proposals.  

However, it considers that the proposals in the Bill extending closed material procedures into civil proceedings still constitute a radical departure from the UK's constitutional tradition of open justice & fairness; and concludes that the Government has not yet supplied evidence justifying the need for such a serious departure from the fundamental principles of open justice and fairness. 
PC&PESerious questions remain unanswered about the Agreement reached between the UK and Scottish Governments on the holding of a referendum on Scottish independence says the House of Lords Constitution Committee in a report published last week.  

The Agreement provides for power to hold a referendum on Scottish independence to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.  It proposes that this be done through a ministerial order under section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998; such a process would not require an Act of Parliament, and so limits the ability of MPs & peers to control the terms of the referendum.
The Committee finds that neither the UK nor the Scottish Parliaments were given the opportunity to contribute directly to the Agreement negotiations.   It questions whether a section 30 order would be robust enough to protect the decision to hold a referendum from legal challenge.  Although such a challenge would be unlikely to succeed, it would delay the process and cause confusion.
ScotGov: A review is underway to assess the current systems for making new medicines available across NHS Scotland to ensure consistency of approach to their introduction, Health Secretary Alex Neil announced last week.
WAG: The first 12 Clusters of the Welsh Government’s new Communities First Programme have been announced by the Minister for Local Government & Communities, Carl Sargeant. They represent nearly a quarter of the programme and would receive just over £19m up to March 2015.
The aim of the new programme is to create a community focussed Tackling Poverty Programme that aims to support the most vulnerable people in our most deprived areas. Overall there will be 52 areas that are eligible for inclusion in the new programme.  Further announcements about other Clusters will follow over the coming weeks with the expectation that the new programme will be substantially in place early in 2013.
ScotGov:  With just over 1 month to go till the Year of Natural Scotland officially gets underway in 2013, Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing has been urging Scotland’s visitor attractions to get involved.
The Year of Natural Scotland is the next of the Scottish Government’s Focus Years showcasing some of its best known tourism assets as we progress towards our second Year of Homecoming Scotland in 2014.   The Year of Natural Scotland follows the Year of Food & Drink, the Year of Active Scotland and the Year of Creative Scotland.


OFT: The OFT has launched a call for information to explore the extent to which businesses are monitoring online shoppers and using the data to target them with personalised prices, and whether any action is necessary under the OFT's powers.
The OFT will  consider business & technological developments in the online shopping market, consumers' understanding of how their information is used and whether they are being treated unfairly in law as a result of any firms using this practice. The OFT will be gathering information over the next 6 months and would like to hear from interested parties.  It will publish its findings in Spring 2013.
FRC: Following consultation in May, the Financial Reporting Council has published a draft revision to actuarial standard TM1. If, following consultation, these proposals are adopted the FRC will review their implementation carefully to ensure providers are making justifiable assumptions. The closing date for responses to the consultation is 12 December 2012 .
DWP: A consultation has been launched by the Government, to call for a better measurement of child poverty that reflects the reality in the UK. The current measures focus on a family’s income and now the Government wants to look at how a wider measurement can be developed, to tackle the root causes of poverty including worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.
The previous Government’s target to halve child poverty by 2010 was not achieved.  And whilst the relative child poverty numbers fell in the last year, children were no better off in real terms as this decrease was due to a lowering of the median income level. Consultation closes on 15 February 2013.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

SFA: The Innovation Code, launched in April 2012 is working hard to ensure skills funding can benefit learners and those communities that need it most. Currently almost 140,000 employers use the further education system each year and by using the flexibility of the code the aim is that many more will get the right skills solution for them.
Kim Thorneywork, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency has announced the publishment of a revised guidance, in partnership with the Association of Colleges and the Association of Employers & Learning Providers.
NE: A library of real-life video case studies is now online on Natural England’s website, showing how Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) advice can help food producers across a wide range of farming sectors improve their local environment and cut their costs.
The free, specialist advice on offer from the CSF team in priority catchment areas in England covers a wide range of topics: from providing information on nutrient management planning & soil husbandry, to details of the latest developments in fertiliser spreader calibration and soil & water management.
The CSF Capital Grant Scheme, which is run by Natural England, offers up to 50% funding for carrying out practical works that boost the health of England’s precious streams, rivers, meres & mosses by improving water quality and reducing pollution from agricultural activity.  The CG Scheme will be available again next year with an application period of 1 March - 30 of April 2013.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has extended the scope of its technical actuarial standards (TASs) to include actuarial work on pension incentive exercises. The FRC’s move helps to address concerns that members of defined benefit schemes may be misled by financial incentives being offered into giving valuable pension benefits.

Annual Reports

ScotGov: A map showing where house fires took place across Scotland over the last year has been unveiled at the launch of an annual fire safety campaign. The ‘Scotland’s Hottest Postcodes’ map reveals that while the highest concentration of house fires in 2011-12 were centred around built-up areas such as Glasgow, Edinburgh & Dundee, house fires affect homes throughout Scotland.
To minimise the risk, every home should have working smoke alarms which are tested weekly to provide early warning of the onset of fire. Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) are a key prevention tool.  They take around 20 minutes and are FREE. They are delivered by F&RS personnel who help assess fire risks in their home, offer fire safety advice and where appropriate, install a free smoke alarm(s).
ONS: A study into disability in Great Britain has shown that even after a short period of one year, changes can be seen in whether or not people now have an impairment compared with a year ago.  Additionally, the study has shown that the barriers that people face in participating in society have changed just after a year.
The Life Opportunities Survey (LOS) is the first major survey in Great Britain to explore disability in terms of people’s experience of social participation.  Adults in the survey are defined as having an impairment if they experience moderate, severe or complete difficulty within at least one area of mental or physical functioning, and if certain activities, such as walking or reading a newspaper, are limited as a result.

General Reports and Other Publications

APCC: Simon Duckworth, Chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners' Transition Board has commented:  "Our research shows that listening to local communities tops the list of priorities for prospective Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). It's clear that all 192 PCC candidates have been listening carefully to the public and stand ready to tackle their concerns across a wide range of police and crime issues.
Potential PCCs' priorities & areas of interest: Their analysis of candidates' own websites and their addresses on has revealed some of the PCCs' most commonly-cited priorities.
IPPR North: The North risks falling further behind Scotland whether or not Scots vote for independence, according a new report from the IPPR North think tank.  It argues that the Northern economy is unable to dispatch a single ambassador to Westminster who can argue for more powers for the North, but that Scotland’s First Minister helps the Scottish economy ‘speak with one voice’.
The report shows that Scotland can already develop & resource a targeted industrial strategy and attract inward investors with generous support packages, but argues that the North of England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships pale in comparison.  The report argues both independence & further devolution to Scotland will put the North at risk of tax competition
WWF: Commenting on the publication of the International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2012 recently, WWF-UK said that Governments & businesses were ‘in denial’ over the growing threat of climate change.
DCMS: Construction for the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games gave the UK economy a £7.3bn boost, a report has revealed. The latest meta-evaluation of the impacts and legacy of the Games, produced by a consortium led by Grant Thornton and commissioned by DCMS, used available data up to June 2012.
The CompeteFor website, which listed Games-related contract opportunities for small businesses, also helped to generate growth with more than 140,000 businesses registered on the site by the end of 2010/11.
PC&PE: The Commonwealth is working for the UK and could have a bright future ahead of it, says a Foreign Affairs Committee report published last week.   However the report, which is the product of a wide-ranging inquiry, suggests that, if the organisation is to reach its potential and influence events, the Commonwealth Secretariat needs to "sharpen, strengthen & promote its diplomatic performance".  The Committee notes that recently the Commonwealth has appeared less active and less publicly visible.
PC&PE: In a report published last week, the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee says it is very worried about the decision to close 2 of Scotland’s Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres and says Government must do more to explain the rationale for the decision and how it will ensure that the same high standard of service is maintained, with fewer resources.
The Committee is ‘deeply concerned’ that despite an extensive Government consultation, those on the front line felt they had been excluded from the process.  The Committee is particularly concerned at the loss of local knowledge resulting from the closures, saying it seems that for a time at least that there will be a major gap in local knowledge among coastguards in the remaining four MRCCs.
ieaThe impact of fuel duty on the British economy is immense & destructive.  A new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs - Time to Excise Fuel Duty? - argues not only that fuel duty is unfair on motorists, but also that it puts British companies at a competitive disadvantage and acts as a disincentive to work, pushing up the welfare bill.  The report sets out a plan to fund reducing fuel duty, to the point that it can be halved and then eventually phased out.
HL: The latest ‘Housing Report’ published recently from the National Housing Federation, Shelter and The Chartered Institute of Housing says that overcrowding, homelessness, housing costs & affordability in the private rental market are all getting worse.
PC&PE: The Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published its Report: The Creation and Sale of Northern Rock plc

Legislation / Legal

CLG: A legal minefield that can pressure councils into handing out bumper pay-offs to chief executives they want to dismiss is to be scrapped. Slow & costly bureaucracy that requires councils to appoint an independent person, usually a Queen's Counsel, to review dismissal & disciplinary cases for Chief Executives is to be changed.  
Councils seeking to dismiss a chief executive for misconduct or poor performance often pay out inflated lump sums to avoid the cost of taking this bureaucratic route.  Mr Pickles intends to remove this expensive roadblock, which does not exist in other parts of Government or the private sector.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has welcomed a Court decision which confirms that public authorities should consider the needs of older & disabled people when planning their services.
BIS: New research, jointly commissioned by the Sutton Trust and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills from UCAS, and published recently, surveyed over 13,000 students to look at the reasons for the university choices made by young people who gained at least three Bs at A level.
The research follows a Sutton Trust report in 2004 that identified around 3,000 young people who gain the necessary A level grades to get into the 13 most selective universities which take 30,000 students each year, but don’t end up at these universities.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU news: Negotiations on next year's EU budget were suspended recently due to disagreement between Parliament & Council over possible solutions to counter the lack of remaining funds in the 2012 budget.  If there is no agreement within 21 days, trilateral talks continue and set the basis of a new draft budget for 2013 to be presented by the Commission.  This would need to be approved in Parliament’s Budgets Committee and plenary - as well as by the Council - before the end of 2012.
EU news: A new European law to improve rights for an estimated 75m crime victims across the European Union each year was published in the Official Journal – the EU's statute book – last week.  
CBI: The CBI is calling for political agreement on a new European energy and climate change package by 2014
 to guarantee the future of the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).  While the recession has caused the carbon price to drop, the real reason the EU ETS is not delivering is its short-term focus, with an emissions cap only until 2020.
EU News: The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has issued his report on the findings of some on-the-spot inspections conducted between 15 June and 18 July 2012 on the premises of thirteen Brussels-based EU institutions & bodies.
These thematic inspections were one of the measures announced in the Follow-up Report of February 2012, outlining the status of compliance of EU institutions and bodies with the 2010 EDPS Video-surveillance Guidelines (see EDPS website) (EDPS/05/12). The report, which is not published, contains recommendations for the 13 bodies on how to improve the way in which information about video-surveillance is provided to the general public.
EU News: The European Commission has agreed with international partners on new internationally harmonised rules on Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) and Lane Departure Warning Systems (LDWS) for commercial vehicles.  
EU legislation already sets out dates for the obligatory introduction of these safety enhancing technologies in the EU.   To promote safety internationally and help the European automotive industry export trade, it is important that these systems are based on globally harmonised standards.
EU News: An efficient, interconnected & transparent European internal energy market will offer citizens & businesses secure & sustainable energy supplies at lowest possible cost.  With the recent Communication on how to make the internal energy market work the Commission calls on Member States to step up their efforts to transpose and implement the existing EU internal energy market rules.  The Commission will work with Member States to empower consumers and to reduce state interventions which distort markets.
EU News: The Commission has launched a Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources, a strategy for ensuring that enough good quality water is available to meet the needs of people, the economy and the environment.
EU waters are not doing well in terms of quality, despite improvements in recent years.  Water quantity is of equal concern with water scarcity spreading in Europe and extreme events (like floods) increasing in too many Member States.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

DCMSParalympic Gold Medallist Hannah Cockroft and Culture Secretary Maria Miller recently joined Sport England CEO Jennie Price and Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King to announce a new initiative to ensure the inclusion of disabled people in community sport.
Sport England’s £1m National Lottery investment will fund free training courses to help coaches, leaders, carers and parents to develop the skills and confidence to include disabled people in sporting activity. It extends into community clubs the high quality support commitment for teachers through the Sainsbury’s Active Kids for All scheme, creating a seamless approach for disabled people in school and community sport.
DUK: A blood test could identify those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes up to 10 years in advance, a new study claims. Researchers at the Lund University Diabetes Centre (LUDC) have for the first time established a link between a protein called SFRP4 and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  

The study, which is published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that those with above-average levels of the protein in their blood were significantly more likely to develop the condition – irrespective of other risk factors such as age and waist size.
OCUKDo you work in the community? Would you like to get new skills, ideas and tools to help you do more of what you do best? The Level 3 Community Development Award could be for you. It’s a nationally recognised qualification (accredited by the National Open College Network) that could give your projects a boost, and give you an edge with funders & employers.
No 10: Technology, innovation & open government all came together for the Open Up! conference in London recently to help reduce poverty.  It was aimed at demonstrating how the use of technology together with transparency from governments can help improve the lives of the poorest.
UniteTurning Point, the charity dedicated to helping those with emotional and employment problems, is set to sack its 2,600 staff and re-employ them on lower payUnite, the union, said that ‘Turning Point was leading the race to the bottom in the voluntary sector with its plans to slash staff pay and conditions, which will, in turn, will lead to a deterioration of services for many vulnerable people’.
Turning Point was created to help people find a new direction in life by helping those with substance misuse, mental health issues, a learning disability, or employment difficulties by providing tailored personalised care. The 2,600 staff affected work in hundreds of community projects & services in England & Wales.  All staff will be hit, depending on their individual contracts.
ScotGov: A successful music programme is set to transform one of Glasgow’s most deprived areas after being awarded more than £1m from the Scottish GovernmentSistema Scotland will use the £1.325m to aid its expansion to Govanhill, where it will establish a Big Noise Orchestra.  The organisation has already transformed the lives of hundreds of children through a similar scheme in Raploch, Stirling.
DCMS: The Equality Advisory & Support Service (EASS) is designed to offer bespoke advice & targeted support on issues of discrimination to those who need it most.  Individuals from across the UK can already access help & information from a range of expert advisory services including Citizens Advice and Acas, but where appropriate these organisations will refer more complex cases to the EASS for further tailored assistance.

Business and Other Briefings

The purpose of this Brief is to explain a change in HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC's) position following the decision of the Tax Tribunal in the case of Robinson Family Limited (2012 UKFTT 360 (TC), TC02046).
This Brief announces publication of the Removal of the VAT registration threshold for businesses which are not established in the UK

Industry News

BIS: The UK’s £9bn space sector is about to become even bigger after the Government recently pledged an extra £60m to Europe’s space programme, the Chancellor announced recently during a speech at the Royal Society.

Subject to the outcome of the high-level discussions at European Space Agency (ESA) Ministerial, the UK space sector expects significant returns from this further investment. Industry has already identified projects to the value of £1bn that should follow in train from this additional funding.
Defra: Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is spearheading the biggest ever food trade delegation to China to start filling a £1bn hole in the British economy. China is consuming significantly more Western-style milk, cheese, and yogurt, and Britain can help supply that demand.
The UK currently imports £1.2bn more dairy produce than it exports, meaning there is huge potential for growth at home & abroad. Mr Paterson has been promoting tea, desserts, beer, meat, and confectionery produced by British companies.  A record number of British SMEs went to Shanghai to sell their produce to 30,000 importers at the giant Food and Hotel China exhibition.
As the first step towards developing more trade with China, Defra will share the insight into the Chinese market with other businesses in a dairy export summit in the New Year.
ESRC: Warwick & Aston Universities have been chosen to host a new Enterprise Research Centre that will help develop understanding of the factors affecting business investment, performance & growth.  The centre launches on 1 January 2013
 and will become a national & international focal point for research, knowledge & expertise on SMEs.
MORWE npower renewables, one of the UK's leading renewable energy developers and operators, has chosen the Met Office's VisualEyes™ for its 27 wind farms across the UK.

A web-based monitoring & alert solution, VisualEyes™ will monitor real-time & forecast weather conditions at the sites to ensure safe & efficient operations at each location. The availability of accurate data for real-time and forecast weather conditions enables RWE npower renewables to plan maintenance & repairs to ensure downtime is kept to a minimum, and in turn reduce maintenance costs - whilst ensuring the safety of staff and contractors on site.
DWP: The Post Office, Cassidian, Digidentity, Experian, Ingeus, Mydex, and Verizon are the successful providers chosen to design & deliver a secure online identity registration service for the Department for Work and Pensions.
The identity registration service will enable benefit claimants to choose who will validate their identity by automatically checking their authenticity with the provider before processing online benefit claims.  As well as offering a safe & secure system, providers will be required to offer a simplified registration process, minimise the number of usernames & passwords a customer will need to remember and reduce the costs incurred across Government for the management of Identity Assurance.
The online Identity Assurance model will be incorporated into Universal Credit as it’s developed & rolled-out.  Over time Identity Assurance will become available to all UK citizens who need to access online public services.
ScotGov: 10m chefs  are set to cook with Scottish seafood following a landmark deal with the World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS).  As a result of the agreement, Scottish salmon & langoustines will also be used exclusively by more than 100 world-class chefs in the 2012-14 Chefs Global Challenge, which includes regional competitions in locations such as Singapore, Italy, Las Vegas and Hong Kong. 
Seafood Scotland, Scottish Quality Salmon and Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation - in partnership with Scottish Development International - have struck the deal, which will see only Scottish salmon & langoustines featured in the WACS global chef competitions over the next 2 years - culminating in the 2014 final in Norway.

Forthcoming Event

ACE:  Arts Council England's Chief Executive Alan Davey will be answering your questions in their next online live chat at 12 noon on Wednesday 28 November.
To take part, visit their website on the morning of the event itself where they will post a link to the chatroom & a link to their live blog for those who want to observe only. You can submit questions in advance now via our Facebook page and Twitter using the #ACElivechat hashtag, or by emailing
GPS: Local government commissioning and the wider public sector procurement marketplace continue to change & evolve at a pace which is only likely to increase.  The LGPN Learning Showcase 2012 (22 November 2012), is supported by Government Procurement Service, and will provide you with a valuable insight into how other organisations overcome challenges & implement innovative strategies to deliver efficient & robust solutions.
Through case study learning, you will have the opportunity to engage directly with real-life procurement initiatives and actively discuss each case in order to take back actions which can be adopted throughout your own organisation.
SocitmSocitm has launched a new GIS and location practice area for Scotland - Thursday, December 6, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM - Book now for this FREE session.
Hidden Efficiencies in existing GIS assets & data means that further efficiency savings & service improvements can be made in most local authorities. Efficiencies & service improvement can be realised by:
* moving existing mapping services to the web & mobile delivery as part of a channel shift strategy
*rationalising the number of desktop software licences as a consequence
*using existing software to streamline back office operations in functions as diverse as transport & the corporate office
GPSPrint Services Efficiency Forum - 6 December 2012 - - Government Procurement Service is working alongside YPO and ESPO with a common purpose to help drive efficiency savings for print services in the public sector. By utilising an existing Government Procurement Service national framework, organisations can access numerous options with a range of suppliers, helping you achieve a number of benefits.
Join us on Thursday 6 December 2012 to network with our category team, customers and suppliers on the framework. The day will provide an opportunity to exchange best practice and discover ways in which we can all achieve further efficiency savings through collaboration. Register for this FREE event, or email for more information.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is holding a conference on foodborne viruses and they are particularly interested to hear from individuals who have expertise in norovirus or foodborne viruses and can contribute to the 2-day event.  The conference will be held in London on 15-16 January 2013.  Closing date for expressions of interest is 5pm Wednesday 21 November 2012.
The conference will focus mainly on norovirus research, but will also consider other possible foodborne viruses such as Hepatitis E and Hepatitis A.  The purpose of this conference is to increase our understanding of these viruses in the foodchain and to identify the research priorities that need to be addressed by the FSA or in partnership with industry/others funders to underpin measures to control them in the food chain.
EHDisability History: Voices and Sources - A one day conference jointly organised by London Metropolitan Archives and English Heritage from 10.00 am - 4.30 pm on Friday 22nd March 2013.
Archives and historic buildings offer important resources for uncovering the histories of disabled people.  Come & share experiences with a range of research projects.  Discuss ways in which disabled people are documenting their own histories.
ACE: On Friday 23 November 2012, museums across England are handing over control to children as part of Takeover Day.  Directors, curators, web designers, caterers and front of house staff will all be replaced by children as part of the event, orchestrated by independent charity Kids in Museums and the Children's Commissioner's initiative, to give young people the chance to experience a meaningful role within museums.

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