In the News
Please note that the WGPlus newsletter is taking its Christmas / New Year break and the next scheduled publication date will be on Monday 7 January 2013. We will, however, be continuing to publish individual news items on a daily basis as usual during this period.
HMT: Read what he said, check out what other organisations commented (before & after the speech) and then read the background documents to make up your own mind - The Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his Autumn Statement to Parliament on 5 December 2012, alongside the publication of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s updated forecasts for growth & borrowing.
Press release & links ~ IFS: Autumn Statement 2012 ~ Welsh Secretary responds to Autumn Statement ~ ONS: Household spending edges higher, while spending patterns differ by income ~ Autumn Statement 2012: CBI full reaction ~ STFC welcomes £600m investment in research and innovation ~ NIESR: Autumn Statement 2012 and the OBR’s forecasts ~ Autumn statement is 'pain without purpose', says TUC ~ TUC: Welcome for regional pay retreat, but dismay at pay plans for teachers ~ Unite: Ditching NHS regional pay plans “nail in coffin” for local pay in the South West ~ TUC: A million public sector jobs set to disappear by 2018 ~ TUC: Working families to lose £3,000 a year from child benefit and tax credit cuts by 2015 ~ VSO: Autumn Statement - “UK has shown leadership in budget commitment to tackling poverty” says VSO ~ IfL comments on the autumn statement ~ IfG: Autumn Statement 2012 ~ FDA: Chancellor metes out long-term blow, says civil servants’ union ~ nef: 4 reasons why the benefit freeze makes no sense ~ CBI Scotland on the Autumn Statement - DCMS: Ultrafast broadband for 12 UK cities, GREAT boost and £6m for creative and digital skills ~ TWF: Autumn Statement boost for science & higher education welcome yet billions being wasted on ineffective & populist measures ~ IEA: Chancellor not credible on deficit reduction ~ ASI: Economic stagnation is here to stay ~ Snipping safety net risks decade of destitution for people in poverty, says JRF ~ IPPR: Chancellor’s fiscal rules 'a busted flush' ~ IPPR North: North needed to heal national finances ~ Centre for Social Justice respond to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement ~ Pre-speech AS PRs ~ Chancellor risking 'fatal error' on growth, warns LGA ~ FDA: The avoided billions - ARC proposes investment of £120m to recoup an extra £3.7bn ~ HL: Welfare changes pushing young people into homelessness, Young & Homeless 2012 report warns ~ TUC - Poor families will lose most if Chancellor freezes benefits in Autumn Statement ~ CBI responds to Funding for Lending data ~ Civitas: £100 billion motorway sell-off can kick-start the faltering economy ~ New tax avoidance plans won't force big companies to pay more tax, warns TUC ~ WAG: First Minister calls on Chancellor to boost capital investment ~ New capital spending won't undo damage from Chancellor's £22bn infrastructure cuts, says TUC
Defra: Probably a lost cause now, but they have to try - A new strategy to tackle Ash dieback has been published by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson alongside the Tree & Plant Health Task Force’s interim report. The Chalara Control Plan sets out the Government’s objectives for tackling the disease and outlines what further action they will take over the next few months.
The plan also re-affirms the Government‘s commitment to focus its efforts on:
* reducing the rate of spread
* developing resistance to the disease in the native UK ash tree population
* encouraging citizen, landowner and industry engagement and action in tackling the problem
* building resilience in the UK woodland and associated industries
HO: A more common sense approach to client protection - A new streamlined organisation to oversee criminal records checking, referral & barring went live recently.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will provide a one-stop shop service to those requiring criminal records disclosures & barring checks for employment purposes. It was formed from the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
The DBS will also oversee a number of key government reforms including the introduction of portable CRB checks which will eliminate the need for multiple checking and an online update service which will make it easier for employers to assess individuals.
ScotGov: Already moving towards a ‘Devo Max’ - In an historic first for the Scottish Parliament, Finance Secretary John Swinney has introduced the first bill that will enable the Parliament to both set & collect a proportion of its own revenue.
Mr Swinney has introduced the Land & Building Transactions Tax (Scotland) Bill using powers in the Scotland Act 2012 to collect & manage taxes on the purchase or leasing of land and buildings.
From April 2015, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) will replace the UK Government’s system of stamp duty land tax in Scotland.
ICO: Rushed legislation is not the best answer even if it may be part of an eventual solution – The Information Commission Office’s statement in response to Lord Justice Leveson’s report:
‘From an initial reading, it is clear the report offers much for the ICO to consider, and we’ll reflect on where improvements can be made to the ways in which we carry out our statutory duties. ….. The report proposes significant changes to some parts of the Data Protection Act ……. we will be offering our views on the detail & practical effects of the proposals in a response to the Leveson Report which we will publish early in the New Year’.
ICO: Best not to ‘Do a favour for a friend’ regarding accessing personal data - A bank employee has been fined after a court heard she unlawfully accessed bank statements of her partner’s ex-wife. At the time her partner was involved in a legal dispute over the terms of a divorce settlement.
But when eBay transactions were raised in a meeting between the estranged couple, the ex-wife became suspicious that her account had been viewed. Barclays, where Ms Davies worked, were contacted, and when they investigated the matter she left her job. Ms Davies pleaded guilty to 11 offences under section 55 of the Data Protection Act, and was fined £500 by Derby Crown Court and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge & £1,410.80 prosecution costs.
EU News: So much for the argument that leaving the EU would mean the UK couldn’t reach a Free Trade agreement with them - Over the next 2 years, 90% of world demand will be generated outside the EU. That's why it is a key priority for the EU to open up more market opportunities for European businesses by negotiating new Free Trade Agreements with key countries.
Press release & links ~ Trading Places: Is EU membership still the best option for UK trade? ~ HMRC: Overseas Trade Statistics - EU November 2012 ~ BIS: Trade Policy and the European Union
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
HMT: £120m in new funding will speed up the delivery of flood defences that could protect up to 60,000 homes and deliver up to £1bn of economic benefits, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced recently.
WAG: A refreshed statistical website has been re-launched by the Welsh Government. The Welsh Government publishes a range of official statistics about Wales on StatsWales. They cover diverse topics such as population; economy; health; education; housing and transport.
TfL: The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has set out a range of major new transport initiatives that he will use to spearhead the drive for new jobs & economic growth in the capital. Transport for London's (TfL) new draft Business Plan outlines how a steady & sustainable stream of funding would deliver vital new upgrades & improvements to London's transport network ensuring that the capital remains a world-leading city.
SFA: A combination of emerging industries & changing work environments along with waiting for a qualification to develop in a new field, can mean individuals have to wait several months or even a year to be able to gain the skills they need to progress or move into employment.
However, an independent training provider, PBTS Ltd based in the south east, demonstrates how they have overcome these challenges by using the Skills Funding Agency’s Innovation Code – including helping unemployed learners to move into work.
LR: As of 3 December 2012, thousands of property professionals are able to make quicker & more cost effective applications to update details held on property registers with a new Land Registry service.
The new electronic Document Registration Service (e-DRS) is now available through Land Registry’s ‘portal’ transactional channel. It allows users such as conveyancers to send & receive the majority of their applications to change the register electronically – rather than through the post.
WAG: Release of contingency funding for the health service to help meet unprecedented pressures and maintain quality of care was announced by Health Minister Lesley Griffiths last week as she published the NHS Mid Year Review, which shows a 10% increase in hospital admissions for patients aged 85 & over – beyond forecast projections – which is placing significant strain on the NHS.
ScotGov: A specialist heart centre has successfully treated its first patients in Scotland. 7 patients who were too ill to have open heart surgery have now received Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh centre, which was created in September 2012.
If a patient is either not well enough for open heart surgery, or their heart & vessels are not suitable for replacement, TAVI can be used as an alternative treatment option if suitable.
The procedure is less invasive, as a replacement valve is passed through a hole in the groin and advanced up to the patient’s heart. The new service will be closely monitored over the next 6 to 12 months, and consideration will be given to introducing a regional model of service, or extending to 2 sites.
TNA: The on-site museum (now called the Keeper's Gallery) of the National Archives has re-opened. They have made changes to the layout, making it a brighter, more inviting space for visitors. There is now extra space for visiting school groups - allowing better access for our award-winning education programme.
HO: The winners of the national Tilley Awards have been announced at a special ceremony in the Houses of Parliament hosted by the Minister for Crime Prevention, Jeremy Browne. The awards, now in their 14th year, recognise innovative crime fighting projects where local councils, police, community groups and the public successfully work together to deal with local problems.
TfL: A revised Metropolitan line timetable will operate from this Sunday, 9 December 2012. The same number of trains will run, but there will be some changes to train times.
10 DS: PM David Cameron has announced increased support for military personnel and their families. This includes nearly £1m for Fisher House, a military charity which provides accommodation & support for the families of injured service personnel. As of next year, families will be able to live in ‘a home away from home’, next to their loved ones who are being treated in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham .
The PM has also given the very first Government-led military discount cards for serving personnel, their families & veterans to 3 serving personnel in Downing Street last week. More than 200 high street & online retailers have signed up to the Defence Discount Service.
DfT: Designated drivers will be rewarded with a ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ deal on Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero, this Christmas. Now in its 5th year the nationwide designated driver campaign will reward drivers who choose not to drink alcohol. The scheme runs from 6 - 31 December 2012.
A dedicated website has also been set up to encourage consumers to take advantage of the offer by finding a participating pub in their area.
MoD; The excellent work of the Armed Forces and the people who support them was recognised recently at the 5th annual Sun Military Awards. The awards fall into 9 main categories, celebrating the professionalism & bravery of the men & women working in our armed forces around the world. They also recognise members of the public who, in various ways, work tirelessly to support our Service personnel.
TUC: TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, has responded to the announcement last week by the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP, that nearly 900 employees face compulsory redundancy as a result of further closures to Remploy factories around the UK.
WAG: The Welsh Government has asked the UK Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, to devolve the funding, assets, land, buildings & contracts of the 2 remaining Remploy factories in Wales to the Welsh Government in order to create a viable social enterprise.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: People on sickness benefits who are expected to be able to get back to work at some point in the future are now able to take part in voluntary work experience to help them move towards a job.
Short periods of work experience at an appropriate employer will help people with limited employment history get a flavour of the workplace environment, gain new skills and boost their confidence for an eventual return to work.
WAG: Two new innovative finance schemes that will result in £500m of additional infrastructure investment were announced by Welsh Government Finance Minister Jane Hutt last week. During a Plenary debate on the Final Budget for 2013-14 Jane Hutt announced that she would be using a non-dividend investment mechanism to invest around £300m in sections 5 and 6 of the A465.
The Minister also announced she would be extending the Local Government Borrowing Initiative, in partnership with local authorities, to the 21st Century Schools Programme which would accelerate around £200m of investment.
DECC: Barriers to investment in new gas will be addressed as the Government confirmed the major role gas will continue to play in supporting significant decarbonisation of the power sector by 2030.
The Government confirmed a number of steps that would be taken to stimulate investment in gas generation in its Gas Generation Strategy last week.
New gas-fired power stations (which emit half the CO2 of coal) will need to be built over the next 2 decades to replace retiring coal, older gas and nuclear power stations. Gas will also be required to support a low-carbon electricity sector, providing the flexibility to balance out increasing amounts of wind and nuclear energy.
DfE: An independent review body has called on the Government to link teachers’ pay more closely to their performance. The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which makes recommendations to Government on teachers’ pay reforms, is calling for greater freedom for schools to set teachers’ pay.
In its report published last week it recommends a ‘simpler, more flexible national pay framework for teachers’
FCO: The Foreign Office, the Canadian High Commission and Wilton Park held a conference on combating intolerance & promoting freedom of religion or belief for all. Last week’s conference brought together experts from governments & civil society across the world to share knowledge & skills focusing on particular parts of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18.
WAG: Education & Skills Minister Leighton Andrews has announced the creation of a new qualifications body for Wales. Called Qualifications Wales, the new body will be responsible for awarding qualifications and regulating & assuring the quality of all non degree level qualifications.
WAG: ‘There are no reasons or excuses why all organisations cannot fully adopt the principles in the WalesProcurement Policy Statement’, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said when she published the Wales Procurement Policy Statement.
Building on the recommendations in the McClelland Review the Statement sets out 9 principles for how the public sector should carry out procurement from being professionally resourced to using procurement to deliver ‘community benefits’ and support the Welsh economy.
DECC: The nuclear industry will play a major role in securing the nation’s energy supplies & driving economic growth, Energy Minister John Hayes and Business & Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon said last week as they published the Government’s Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan.
EU News: The Commission has launched a consultation on integrated parcel delivery market to boost e-commerce in the EU. There is an urgent need to address delivery concerns & improve delivery systems.
This is why the Commission has recently adopted a Green Paper consultation on the delivery of parcels, with special emphasis on cross-border issues and e-commerce needs. Stakeholders are invited to respond to the consultation before 15 February 2013.
TfL: Transport for London is seeking Londoners' views on proposals which will see a new Barclays Cycle Superhighway route link New Cross Gate, Peckham, Camberwell, Kennington, Vauxhall and Victoria. TfL has used its recent experience improving major junctions for cyclists to develop the new Barclays Cycle Superhighways Route 5 from New Cross Gate to Victoria.
The Mayor and TfL are committed to delivering all 12 Barclays Cycle Superhighway routes by 2015. The consultation closes on 11 January 2013 and TfL is also holding events at key locations along the route in December (see PR for dates).
WAG: Proposals for a new law that would improve decision making and benefit schools, hospitals & local government in Wales over the long term have been launched.
The Sustainable Development White Paper makes the case for a Sustainable Development Bill that would legally require devolved public services in Wales to consider the economic, social, environmental and long term implications of their decisions. Consultation closes on 4 March 2013.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is consulting on the approach the future Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) would take if it needed to exercise powers to make temporary rule changes, before consultation, relating to financial services products.
The Financial Services Bill specifically includes this power as part of the FCA’s toolkit. The FSA is consulting on its successor body’s behalf so that the FCA’s approach is clear & understood by April 2013 when the new regulator comes into being. The consultation runs until 4 February 2013.
SC: The Sentencing Council has launched a consultation on its proposals for how guidance for courts on sexual offences should be brought up to date. It aims to give more focus to the impact on victims and reflect advances in technology, while making sure offenders are dealt with effectively. Consultation closes on 14 March 2013.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has proposed new rules & regulations for financial benchmarks. This follows the recommendations of the Wheatley Review of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).
This consultation will remain open until 16 January 2013. The FSA will accept responses for the part of the document that takes the form of a discussion paper until 13 February 2013.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
FSA: The Food Standards Agency and the 4 Agriculture/Rural Affairs Departments have produced an updated version of the UK National Control Plan. This also extends the plan to 31 March 2013.
The National Control Plan is a requirement of Regulation (EC) 882/2004 on official controls. Its purpose is to ensure that effective control systems are in place for monitoring & enforcing feed and food law, animal health & animal welfare rules, and plant health law.
EU News: The Commission is issuing new guidelines to improve understanding of how aquaculture can be carried out inside Natura 2000, the EU-wide network of protected natural areas. The guidelines explain how best to ensure that activities related to aquaculture are compatible with EU nature legislation and Natura 2000 provisions in particular.
They emphasize the significance of the aquaculture sector for food production and highlight the key role of the Natura 2000 network in delivering the objectives of EU Biodiversity policy. The guidelines focus on the implementation of the provisions on appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive.
DfE: Councils must do more to ensure children awaiting adoption are not deprived of a loving permanent family because of council delays, children’s minister Edward Timpson said recently. The call came as the Government publishes its second set of adoption scorecards, which show how quickly children were adopted between April 2009 & March 2012.
The new scorecards highlight continued & significant differences in the time councils take to place children from care into the families of prospective adopters. Some councils took on average 2.5 years to place a child with an adoptive family, a process which takes less than a 1.5 years in 15 council areas across England.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee published its 19th Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from HM Revenue & Customs, examined the Department's annual report & accounts for 2011-12.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "Global companies with huge operations in the UK generating significant amounts of income are getting away with paying little or no corporation tax here. This is outrageous and an insult to British businesses and individuals who pay their fair share”.
Ofsted: Recently the Office of the Children’s Rights Director has published a report called Children’s views on restraint. Children’s Rights Director Roger Morgan has not added his views to the report, instead using direct quotes from the 94 children he & his team spoke to as part of the consultation.
Overall children agreed that restraint should only be used as a last resort. Every group said ‘staff should always try to calm things down before things get too bad that restraint is needed’.
CO: The Government recently published its progress report one year after the publication of the Cyber Security Strategy. The Strategy, launched in November 2011, provided Government with a framework & objectives in tackling cyber threats.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a new report on how public authorities in England have met their transparency obligations on equality. Just as councils publish information on their spending to prove value for money, the Commission monitors public authorities to ensure they are meeting their legal requirement to publish equality information to prove they are providing equal opportunities and making fair decisions.
The report reveals that only half of the public authorities assessed were responding fully to the requirements of the specific duty regulations1 to publish equality information such as the diversity of their staff and people who use their services.
NAO: Amyas Morse, the Comptroller & Auditor General, has again refused to sign off the financial accounts of the Ministry of Defence. While the Department has improved its recording of the equipment & supplies it holds in its warehouse & stock systems, the C&AG has not been provided with sufficient evidence to support MOD’s valuation of military equipment in the form of inventory worth £3bn & capital spares worth £7bn.
The C&AG has also qualified his audit opinion because the Department has not complied with the accounting requirements, introduced under International Financial Reporting Standards, for determining whether a contract contains a lease.
General Reports and Other Publications
Demos: Child nutrition advice should be displayed on supermarket shelves and online parenting forums to make it more accessible to parents, according to a Demos report. Clearer information is necessary as a survey of over 1,800 mothers reveals many are ‘in the dark’ about healthy eating for pre-school children.
The report, titled For Starters, found 54% felt information they received on weaning to be confusing or contradictory. Half of the mothers surveyed were also unsure about correct portion sizes for their babies & toddlers as they are growing up. This has clear implications for rates of childhood obesity in the UK.
EHRC: The Equality and Human Rights Commission has welcomed a report from the Government Equalities Office, which dispels the myth that businesses believe the Equality Act adds to unnecessary red tape.
In the report, feedback from the business community shows that 90% of businesses surveyed support equality in the workplace as a benefit rather than a bureaucratic burden.
NAO: In a review of the London 2012 Games, the National Audit Office has underlined the success of the Games and stressed the importance of building on that success to deliver the promised legacy benefits.
TKF: There are significant variations in the quality of primary care in London, according to a new report, General practice in London: Supporting improvements in quality, commissioned by NHS London from The King's Fund and Imperial College London.
General practice in London faces unique challenges – its population is more transient & diverse, with hundreds of different first languages spoken. It is also growing faster than elsewhere in England.
While on some measures Londoners are healthier than people from other parts of the country, widespread inequalities exist, with life expectancy varying by up to 9 years and infant mortality varying threefold between different parts of the capital.
NO: There were flaws in the way the London Borough of Newham responded when a woman with a young son approached it for help with housing, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
A woman with a young son approached the Council for help with housing after her sister told her she could no longer live with her. The Council gave her an appointment with the Housing Options Team two months after she approached it for help and did not offer her interim accommodation in the meantime.
NAO: The Department for Transport competition to let the Intercity West Coast franchise ‘lacked management oversight & the governance of the project was confused’, according to the National Audit Office.
The spending watchdog has concluded that the full cost to the taxpayer is unknown, but likely to be significant, with at least £1.9m in staff & adviser costs, £2.7m in legal costs and £4.3m on external advisers for the reviews that it has commissioned.
The report identifies five essential safeguards against poor decision making in major projects. These are necessary to enable officials to assure Ministers & Parliament that decisions are sound and are value for money. However, in the case of the Intercity West Coast competition, none of these lines of defence operated effectively.
Press release & links
Legislation / Legal
SC: The Sentencing Council has announced that 4 new cases have been added to ‘You be the Judge’, an interactive website which lets people weigh-up the facts of real-life cases. Users can pass sentence themselves and then compare it to the sentence actually handed out by the judge.
OFT: 8 supermarkets have agreed to a set of OFT principles to address concerns over special offers & promotions for food & drink. Aldi, Co-Op, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco & Waitrose have agreed to adopt the principles into their own policies, following constructive engagement with the OFT.
The principles clarify the OFT's view on how promotional claims should be used so that consumers can rely on them being fair & meaningful regarding the value of the product or the existence of a discount. They also identify activities that would be of concern to enforcers.
WAG: As of last week, a new law means large shops & supermarkets are banned from displaying tobacco. The ban is aimed at reducing the uptake of smoking among young people in particular, by reducing the visual temptation of cigarettes on display.
The new law will be enforced by local trading standards officials and non-compliance is a criminal offence. Anyone found guilty could face a fine of up to £5,000 or up to 2 years in prison. The law will extend to smaller shops, bulk tobacconists and specialist tobacconists, in April 2015.
WAG: The Welsh Government’s commitment to save more lives and transform others by improving organ donation in Wales passed a significant milestone. Ministers have laid the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill before the National Assembly for Wales. This introduces legislation for a soft opt-out system of organ & tissue donation in Wales.
To coincide with this milestone, a new publicity campaign has been launched alongside 2 international evidence reviews into soft opt-out systems of organ donation and the role of relatives in organ donation.
ScotGov: In an historic first for the Scottish Parliament, Finance Secretary John Swinney has introduced the first bill that will enable the Parliament to both set & collect a proportion of its own revenue – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted a maritime strategy for the Adriatic & Ionian Seas that will boost smart, sustainable & inclusive growth in the region. The strategy rests on 4 pillars: a stronger blue economy, a healthier marine environment, a safer maritime space, and responsible fishing activities.
EU News: Over 100m EU citizens could find it easier to use online public services to look for a job, register a car, submit a tax declaration and apply for a passport or driving license thanks to new rules proposed last week by the European Commission on the International Day of People with Disability.
The Commission's proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites would introduce mandatory EU standardised accessibility features, from the end of 2015, for 12 types of websites.
The current situation for public sector web accessibility is dire. Only one third of Europe's 761,000 public sector & government websites are fully accessible, despite the availability of technical solutions, some of which have been developed with EU research funding over the last 15 years.
EU News: In its meeting of 4 December, the Budget Committee indicatively voted the amending budget 6/2012 as well as the EU budget for 2013, so Council can start defining its official position. After consulting the political groups, a majority is emerging which is ready to vote favourably during the vote this week under certain conditions.
EU News: The Council has approved a political agreement reached with the European Parliament on a reform of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) aimed at strengthening OLAF's capacity to tackle fraud.
EU News: The EU has requested the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva to rule over a dispute on Argentina's import restrictions which are damaging to European business. The EU is taking this action, along with Japan and the United States, to force Argentina to lift these measures which have been harmful to European trade & investment for more than 18 months.
EU News: New rules to improve the safety of workers most exposed to electromagnetic fields with protective measures and new maximum exposure limits were approved by a large majority in the social affairs & employment committee on last week. Exemptions for the medical imaging sector and for military applications will be allowed, to take account of their specific needs, say MEPs.
EU News: The European Commission has fined 7 international groups of companies a total of over € 1.47bn for participating in either one or both of two distinct cartels in the sector of cathode ray tubes ("CRT"). For almost 10 years, between 1996 & 2006, these companies fixed prices, shared markets, allocated customers between themselves and restricted their output.
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.'
EU News: In the context of its State Aid Modernisation (SAM) initiative, the European Commission has adopted proposals to amend 2 Council Regulations governing EU state aid control.
The reform of the Procedural Regulation of 1999 is aimed at focussing state aid enforcement on the most significant distortions of competition in the internal market and to speed up decision making.
The proposed amendments to the Enabling Regulation of 1998 would allow the Commission to adopt more block exemptions for aid with limited impact on the internal market, for example in the field of culture or innovation. The Commission proposals will now be discussed in Council and in the European Parliament.
EU News: The Commission has adopted new guidelines on ‘whistleblowing’ to encourage staff to come forward & report any information pointing to corruption, fraud & other serious irregularities that they discover in the line of duty.
EU News: The Commission is issuing new guidelines to improve understanding of how aquaculture can be carried out inside Natura 2000, the EU-wide network of protected natural areas. They emphasize the significance of the aquaculture sector for food production, and highlight the key role of the Natura 2000 network in delivering the objectives of EU Biodiversity policy - See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
EU News: The Commission has launched a consultation on integrated parcel delivery market to boost e-commerce in the EU. Stakeholders are invited to respond to the consultation before 15 February 2013 - See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
UKOC: UK online centres know that every penny counts for your centre at the moment, and they are delighted to be able to announce 3 new funding rounds for UK online centres, available now.
These small grants are all designed to help you expand your work, enhance your offer to your consumers & communities and add value to your current activities:
* Network support fund - 30 minute application
* Start something fund - 10 minute application
* Community How To Advocate fund - 20 minute application
VSO: The story of Asma, a woman from Bangladesh, is just one of the inspiring stories that an audience at VSO’s London carol concert heard this week. Asma was disfigured in an acid attack by a man she refused to marry at 13. VSO has supported her through access to healthcare, education & training.
The international development charity, which works through volunteers placed with local partners in the world’s poorest countries, invited Monira Rahman, CEO of its Bangladesh partner the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), to speak at the event last Thursday 6 December at St Martin’s In the Fields church.
AUK: If you know an amazing councillor who has worked hard to listen to older people and improve their neighbourhood then Age UK want to hear from you. Nominations are now open for the Age UK award which forms part of the LGiU and CCLA C'llr Achievement Awards 2013. This is an award for Councillors who have put older people at the heart of their work, bringing about long lasting change for older people in their communities.
Nominations can be made by members of the public, councillors and council officers, but councillors cannot nominate themselves. You will find everything you need to make a nomination on the LGIU website. The deadline for applications is 30 December 2012, and the successful winner will be announced in February 2013 at an awards ceremony in London.
Business and Other Briefings
BIS: The Government set up a unique opportunity last week so global car manufacturers could meet UK companies to identify further opportunities to invest in this country and localise supply chains.
A report published in the summer by the Automotive Council found automotive manufacturers already spend £8.4bn with UK suppliers and actively wish to increase local purchasing. An immediate opportunity was identified to increase local purchasing by £3bn per annum.
WWF: A new report published by WWF-UK highlights the actions that large firms have taken to transform their business models towards sustainability. The Green Game-Changers report, produced by Verdantix, shows that large firms are increasingly adopting & scaling up sustainability innovations and reaping substantial rewards for themselves and their customers.
These new business approaches not only contribute to the green economy, but also show what can be achieved by decoupling business growth from increasing environmental damage, even generating restorative or net-positive social and environmental impacts.
HMRC: The second meeting of the London – Hong Kong Renminbi (RMB) Forum took place on 4 December 2012 in HM Treasury. Bringing together representatives from 10 global banks and over 60 corporates from across Europe, the Forum provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the growing RMB market.
FCO: Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire is travelling to Brunei, Philippines & Burma this week to promote trade with the UK. During the visit he will outline the vast potential in the region and what the UK has to offer.
This Brief announces the withdrawal of VAT exemption for supplies to insurers of certain mis-selling review and helpline services.
HM Revenue & Customs has published details of new guidance relating to capital allowances treatment of capital expenditure on polytunnels.
Defra: A Canning Town family business has gone from employing just 3 people to turning over £4m a year, on the back of threefold growth in the UK recycling industry. Since its small scale beginnings 25 years ago, used clothing has become increasingly valuable and the recycling sector has tripled its turnover to more than £10bn a year.
Lawrence M Barry (LMB) Clothes Recycling Centre has grown to employ over 170 staff and work with partners across the globe. Each week, it collects & sorts up to 200 tonnes of clothing which is exported for re-use in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. LMB were the first recycling/waste company to win the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1997.
Britain’s exports of recovered materials are worth more than £4bn a year to the nation’s economy. Since 1998, around 8,000 jobs have been created in the UK recycling sector, which now employs more than 30,000 people.
Defra: A new food waste recycling facility which supports economic growth and a healthy environment was opened by Defra Minister of State David Heath recently. Wessex Water’s sewage treatment works in Avonmouth could create jobs & new business opportunities and is the first such facility in the area.
Built & operated by Wessex Water subsidiary GENeco, the new anaerobic digestion plant can annually turn 40,000 tonnes of food waste into a renewable energy supply equivalent to serving 3,000 homes.
It also produces a nutrient-rich organic fertiliser to help local farmers reduce their costs and reliance on non-organic chemical fertilisers. The plant solves a serious business problem caused by the growing costs of both electricity and of waste disposal, turning a problem into a resource.
STFC: Cheaper & solvent-free chemistry processes, central for mining, pharmaceutical and other industries will be better understood after scientists for the first time, observed chemical reactions in a mechanical mill in situ and in real time.
10 DS: Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a major Government investment in Tech City. The Government will put £50m towards a visionary project to regenerate the Old Street roundabout, which will see it transformed into Europe’s largest indoor civic space, dedicated to start-ups & entrepreneurs in East London.
This new civic building will host classrooms, co-working spaces & workshops equipped with the latest 3D printing technology, for use by both the local start-ups and the wider community.
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