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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

It has come to our attention that ‘different desktop setups’ do not always receive a consistently formatted document in their e-mailed version of Wired - GOV Plus.  If you have any problems viewing the e-mailed version below, please click HERE for the website version.
 
10 DS:  Could do better, but trying to attain ‘standards’ required? - The Government has issued its Mid-Term Review, taking stock of progress made in implementing the Coalition agreement signed in May 2010.  The review reflects on the Government’s progress in ‘building a stronger, more balanced economy and a fair society in which everyone can rise as high as their aspirations and talents take them’.
 
The Review also highlights a new set of reforms to ‘secure our country’s future and help people realise their ambitions’.  Meanwhile, reforms to provide dignity in old age have been outlined, including an improved state pension that rewards saving and more help with the costs of long-term care.
 
DHA moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips! - A new campaign exposing the ‘hidden nasties’ in everyday foods and helping people to be ‘food smart’ has been launched.  Graphic new advertising from Change4Life reveals a shocking 17 sugar cubes in a bottle of cola and over a wine glass of fat in a large pizza.
 
There will also be hundreds of offers on healthier products at more than 1,000 ASDA, ALDI & the Co-Operative Food stores across the country to give a helping hand with the cost of kitchen cupboard basics.  Everyone that signs up to the campaign will get a FREE ‘Food Smart Meal Mixer’ with lots of quick, easy, healthier recipes, with enough combinations to eat a different daily menu every day for 6 years.
Press release & links ~ BHF - New ‘food smart’ campaign must not be a flash in the pan ~ WAG: Be food smart and make a healthy swap this January ~ Diabetes UK:  New campaign encourages us all to be Food Smart ~ ESRC: Supporting health & activity in schools ~ Cutting children's exposure to unhealthy food advertisements ~ NICE: Tackle obesity through a 'community-wide' approach ~ NICE: Walking and cycling should become the norm for short journeys ~ BHF - New figures show rising levels of obesity in children ~ ESRC: Obese kids as bright as thinner peers ~ Fat taxes and other interventions won’t cure obesity ~ DUK: Study suggests link between maternal obesity and diabetes & child developmental disorders ~ DH: Calories to be capped & cut ~ WAG: Supermeals helping people in Wales eat better on a budget ~ BHF - Voluntary guidelines useful in fight against childhood obesity ~ NCMA: New Food Guidelines ~ Government plans to tackle obesity unveiled ~ UK physical activity guidelines ~ WAG:  Welsh Youngsters MEND their ways (2nd item)
 
MoJTime to try something else - The reforms for tackling re-offending & managing offenders in the community have been set out by Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling.   Consistently high re-offending rates have led to the radical overhaul with almost half of all prison-leavers re-offending within 12 months - for those serving less than a year that figure rises to almost 58%. 500,000 crimes are committed by convicted crooks each year.

Under plans laid out in the consultation 'Transforming Rehabilitation', a new refocused & streamlined public sector service will be tasked with keeping the public safe from the most dangerous & high-risk offenders.  Private & voluntary sector organisations will work together on closing the 'revolving door' of the criminal justice system by tackling lower risk offenders. Consultation closes on 22 February 2013.
Press release ~ Transforming Rehabilitation - a revolution in the way we manage offenders ~ Punishment & Reform: Effective Probation services ~ MoJ: Community sentence proposals ~ MoJ: Work in prisons programme ~ CBI responds to Government probation proposals ~ BIS:  Recruiting ex-service personnel to teach in poorly performing schools may not be such a ‘wild’ idea after all ~ Civitas: Police focus on individual offenders can cut crime ~ Government launches employment support for prisoners ~ Youth Offending Teams improve their contributions to health services for children & young people who offend ~ Coalition Government's 'rehabilitation revolution' fails to tackle repeat offenders ~ HMIC: A new approach to tackling offending in communities needed ~ Teenage Kicks: The value of sport in Tackling Teenage crime ~ Civitas: Report exposes hidden costs of community sentences over custody ~ HMIC: Bad administration or a ‘lazy’ solution for certain police forces? ~ PRT: Can they legally be treated differently than men? ~ Coalition's anti-prison policies ignore MOJ data on effectiveness of long sentences ~ IPPR: Replacing prison sentences of six months or less with community sentences would save taxpayers £50 million a year ~ Probation competition proposals need rethink warns Justice Committee ~ NAO: The youth justice system in England and Wales: reducing offending by young people ~ PX: Fitting the Crime: Reforming Community Sentences 
 
PC&PESome battle skills of the future will be much less physical , but no less deadly - The Government must be more vigorous in its approach to cyber security, says the Defence Committee.  Their latest report notes that cyber threats can evolve with almost unimaginable speed and serious consequences for the nation’s security.
 
Evidence received by the Committee suggested that in the event of a sustained cyber attack the ability of the Armed Forces to operate effectively could be fatally compromised due to their dependence on information & communication technology.  The Committee probed MoD witnesses about its backup systems in these circumstances.
 
IME ‘Global War on Want’ should heed old saying ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ - A new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has found that as much as 50% of all food produced around the world never reaches a human stomach due to issues as varied as inadequate infrastructure & storage facilities through to overly strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free offers and consumers demanding cosmetically perfect food.
 
With UN predictions that there could be about an extra 3bn people to feed by the end of the century and an increasing pressure on the resources needed to produce food, including land, water and energy, the Institution is calling for urgent action to tackle this waste.
 
NSPCC:  Scale of Savile's alleged abuse ‘Simply Beggared Belief’ - The Metropolitan Police Service and the NSPCC have published their joint report into sexual allegations made against Jimmy Savile.   The report, 'Giving Victims a Voice', details the work of Operation Yewtree based on the accounts of the hundreds of victims who have come forward since Jimmy Savile was exposed as an alleged sex offender in October 2012.
 
WAG:  Let's hear about modern day 'Florences' - An awards scheme to recognise the joint efforts of the NHS and the military for their treatment & care of the armed forces has been launched.  The UK-wide Military & Civilian Health Partnership Awards celebrate the work of Britain’s military & heath care workers and are open to civilian health staff & military medics working within the Defence Medical Services, the NHS, and private or voluntary sectors.  Nominations close on 21 February 2013.
 
DfECalling all budding young poets - The poems of John Donne, Lord Byron & Sylvia Plath are among those included in an anthology for a new national poetry competition which launched in schools & colleges last week.  The full anthology is available on Poetry By Heart's website.  
 
The website also contains competition information for schools, material about poems & performances, and teaching resources.  The National poetry competition is open to schools & colleges in England only.  To register, schools should email info@poetrybyheart.org.uk or telephone 0117 905 5338.  The final stage of the competition will be a ‘finals weekend’ based on regional heats, which will lead to a grand final held at the National Portrait Gallery in April 2013.
Press release & links

UKAS: Acreditation – Supporting Efficient Policy Delivery - The use of accreditation, as a tool for the efficient delivery of policy and regulation, continues to grow.
 
As the national accreditation body, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) provides accreditation to underpin public confidence in an ever-widening range of policy areas. Could you make better use of the services provided by UKAS?
 
To help answer this question, UKAS has released a new edition of Accreditation Matters, an information leaflet for policy officials. Accreditation Matters Issue 9 provides information on UKAS and accreditation in general plus case studies on the use of accreditation in new areas such as physiological diagnostics, self-certification for the Building Regulations, inspection of equipment for new and existing nuclear plants and combating Legionella.

Click here to learn more about how accreditation can help you deliver your policy objectives, click the link below to download your copy of Accreditation Matters.

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

General News

WAG: A major UK exercise involving the Welsh Government, Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), Defra, the Scottish Government, the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development Northern Ireland (DARDNI) and key operational partners, will test the ability of all 4 UK governments to deal with a significant outbreak of Classical Swine Fever (CSF).
 
Exercise Walnut will take place on 12-13 June 2013 and will simulate a UK scale outbreak of CSF to test existing plans & policies for the control & eradication of this significant exotic notifiable disease. As part of the exercise the Emergency Co-ordination Centre (Wales) (ECC(W)) in Cardiff will be established. 

A Disease Strategy Group (DSG) and a Central Epizootic Disease Control Centre (CEDCC) will also be set up in Edinburgh & Belfast respectively.
 
Unite: A key proposal by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust - in a bid to save £46m over the next 5 years - is the introduction of emergency care assistants to work alongside more highly-trained paramedics. The planned shake-up of the Yorkshire ambulance service is ‘all about cost-cutting and nothing about improving patient care’, Unite, the union, has claimed.
 
Unite said that the trust’s intention is to abolish the current ‘urgent tier’ of response.  These staff currently transport urgent cases which a GP has assessed needs admission to hospital. In future, these patients will be transported via emergency ambulances and Unite feels they will then be pushed to the ‘back of the queue’, as 999 calls take precedence.
 
DSA: Plans to offer practical driving tests from branches of Halfords have been given the go ahead. Driving tests will be available from the Halfords store in Wellingborough from Tuesday 5 February 2013

Other branches of Halfords across the country are expected to start offering tests in coming months.  All tests will be conducted by Driving Standards Agency (DSA) examiners.
 
The government is currently consulting on proposals to improve the way all motoring services are delivered. The Motoring Services Strategy consultation outlines long term proposals to put customers firmly at the heart of the way motoring services are delivered, so that they best serve the consumer while getting the best possible deal for the taxpayer. Consultation closes on 7 March 2013.
 
ScotGovFinancial support will be offered to Scottish students studying at EU universities in 2014/15.
This will be the first time students studying in Europe will be entitled to the same bursary & loan support as students attending university in Scotland.  The support, to be offered to around 250 young people who will study in the EU in 2014/15, will be on a pilot basis, to assess demand & benefits.
 
FSAAsda is withdrawing its own-brand Great Stuff Minced Beef Hotpot because the product contains wheat/gluten, which is mentioned on the label but not in the allergen advice box.  The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
 
DfESchools across the country are set to benefit from a new deal that has been reached with Microsoft. Under a new 3-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which started on 1 January 2013, all schools in the UK are able to take advantage of improved discounts and better licensing terms across a wide range of Microsoft’s academic software.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: A campaign encouraging women to ‘Drop a Glass Size’ in 2013 has been launched. As part of the campaign, which also includes a national roadshow, a new ‘drinking mirror’ smart phone app has been developed to show people the shocking affects of regularly drinking too much.  The app is free until the end of March 2013 and will show users that cutting down a glass size can have a significant affect on the ageing process.
 
CLG: Housing Minister Mark Prisk has launched a new training programme designed to ‘put power firmly in the hands of social tenants’.  He launched the £1.2m Tenant Training & Support Programme to give residents the skills they need to hold their landlord to account, whether on their own, by setting up a tenant panel, or by taking over the management and maintenance of their homes and neighbourhoods themselves.
 
10 DSPatient & staff satisfaction tests should be used across all NHS services to expose unacceptable standards of care, PM David Cameron urged recently. A new ‘friends & family’ test – where patients & staff are asked whether they would recommend the service to a loved one – will be introduced into every hospital in England from April 2013 and the PM wants that to go further, with GP surgeries, district nursing & community hospitals all adopting the measure.
 
The PM said that ‘compassionate care must be everyone’s business’ and announced a new package of support for nurses, health care assistants & wider NHS staff. The announcement builds on the recently published ‘Compassion in Practice’  vision for nursing, midwives and care staff, which sets a blueprint for respectful and dignified care across the NHS.
 
BIS: Struggling pub landlords were promised help last week with Business Secretary Vince Cable announcing plans for an independent Adjudicator to address unfair practices in the Pub industry, including rents & the prices publicans pay for beer.
 
As well as the new Adjudicator, Dr Cable also wants to establish a new statutory Code to look at the relationship between large pub companies & publicans, which will be enforced by the Adjudicator. The formal consultation on these proposed measures will be launched in spring 2013.
 
MoJ: The Government is to start feasibility work on what would be Britain’s biggest prison as part of a major programme of updating Britain’s prison estate.  The new prison could hold more than 2,000 prisoners (25% more than the largest current facility).  The new facility is likely to be in London, the North West or North Wales.
 
4 new mini-prisons – known as ‘Houseblocks’ - will also be built. The current intention is that these new places will be built at HMPs Parc in South Wales, Peterboroughin Cambridgeshire, The Mount in Hertfordshire and Thameside in London.  

In total they will be able to hold up to 1,260 prisoners and they will replace older, more expensive prison capacity. The cost of holding a prisoner in an older prison is often more than twice as expensive as keeping them in a new one.
 
DfT: The independent review of the government’s rail franchising strategy, following the cancellation of the InterCity West Coast competition, has backed the overall policy while delivering advice for improvements. The review has recommended that by February the government should publish its plans for the Essex Thameside; Great Western; and the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise competitions which were put on hold last October.
 
The government considers that, until those plans had been agreed, it would be inappropriate to publish the specific recommendations about these 3 competitions. The government is planning to set out a programme for future franchise competitions in the spring alongside a further statement of franchising policy in light of the Brown Review and the Transport Select Committee’s Rail 2020 report.
 
CLG: Neighbourhoods that take a proactive approach by drawing up a neighbourhood development plan, and securing the consent of local people in a referendum, will receive 25% of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from the development that they choose to accept.

Consultations

HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England has launched a consultation that proposes to require each university & college to comply with a set of principles on research integrity if they are to remain eligible for funding to carry out research.
 
The principles are set out in the Research Integrity Concordat, published in July 2012 by Universities UK, which sets out 5 commitments that all research conducted by UK higher education institutions meets the highest standards of rigour & integrity.  Consultation closes on 8 March 2013.
 
WAG: Equalities Minister Jane Hutt has launched a consultation on security of tenure rights for Gypsies & Travellers. Currently, residents of these sites have limited protection from eviction. The proposed changes should provide the same level of security of tenure for Gypsies & Travellers as is enjoyed by other Welsh residents of Mobile Home Parks. Consultation closes on 29 March 2013.
 
DSA: The government is currently consulting on proposals to improve the way all motoring services are delivered.  The Motoring Services Strategy consultation outlines long term proposals to put customers firmly at the heart of the way motoring services are delivered, so that they best serve the consumer while getting the best possible deal for the taxpayer. Consultation closes on 7 March 2013.
 
LC: The Secretary of State has announced a review of the Law Commission.  The review is part of a rolling 3-year Cabinet Office programme designed to assess the form, function & governance of non-departmental public bodies.  The consultation closes on 6 February 2013.
 
WAG: Deputy Minister for Agriculture & European Programmes, Alun Davies, has announced plans for a formal public consultation on future EU Programmes in Wales. During a statement in Plenary he said that while the development of the next round of Structural Funds and Rural Development programmes (RDP) in Wales was already well underway (involving partners from all sectors), a formal public consultation, ‘Wales and the EU: Partnership for Jobs and Growth, will begin on 14 January 2013 with the publication of the Structural Funds consultation documents for West Wales & the Valleys and East Wales.  
 
This will be followed by the publication of the RDP consultation document later that month. The deadline for responses to the public consultation is 23 April 2013
 
MonitorMonitor, is publishing for consultation a draft operational manual which it will use in future to monitor compliance by providers of NHS services with certain conditions of the new licence that Monitor will issue. The principles behind the Risk Assessment Framework (RAF) are similar to those Monitor has used so far in regulating NHS foundation trusts, so do not represent any significant change to the current regulatory approach under Monitor’s compliance regime. 
 
The proposed new continuity of service risk rating will also flag the risk of insolvency over the next 12-18 months on a scale of 1 to 4, with the lowest rating signifying the highest level of concern.   Consultation closes on Thursday 4 April 2013.
 
TPRStandards that defined contribution (DC) pension schemes should meet to increase the chance of individuals receiving good outcomes from their retirement savings have been published recently by The Pensions Regulator. Consultation closes on 28 March 2013.
 
Defra: New plans to help beekeepers protect their hives from pests & diseases to reduce bee population losses have been unveiled. Defra & the Welsh Government have outlined proposals which will help beekeepers to identify & manage pests such as the potentially devastating Varroa mite, considered the single greatest problem for beekeepers. Consultation closes on 9 March 2013.
 
MoJ: The reforms for tackling re-offending & managing offenders in the community were set out recently by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.   Under plans laid out in the consultation 'Transforming Rehabilitation', a new refocused & streamlined public sector service will be tasked with keeping the public safe from the most dangerous & high-risk offenders.  Private & voluntary sector organisations will work together on closing the 'revolving door' of the criminal justice system by tackling lower risk offenders. Consultation closes on 22 February 2013 - See ‘In the News Section’ for more information.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DUK: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidance recommending that a potentially sight-saving drug should be made available on the NHS to people with diabetic macular oedema (DMO).

The draft guidance recommends Lucentis (Ranibizumab), Novartis is used as a treatment for the eye condition and if the final guidance - expected to be published next month - goes ahead, this treatment would become available on the NHS.  At least 50,000 people in the UK could be affected by DMO, a serious eye condition which can lead to sight loss as a result of fluid leaking from the small blood vessels in the eye.
 
NICE: NICE has awarded a contract to the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), and its partner organisations, to support the development, adoption & dissemination of its social care guidance & quality standards from 1 April 2013, as the NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care.
 
NICE will commission its Collaborating Centre for Social Care to develop its social care guidance on up to 6 topics at a time.  The scheduling of these topics is currently underway. 

The first 2 NICE quality standards for social care will be published in April 2013, as part of a pilot programme to test its methods and processes.  These will cover priority areas for quality improvement for care services for people with dementia and for the health & wellbeing of looked-after children & young people.
 
ScotGovRules designed to prevent nitrate pollution of the water environment, in designated areas of Scotland, have been revised. Following a consultation last year, the Scottish Government is amending its Action Programme for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs).

The European Directive requires Member States to have an action programme on NVZs to protect groundwater and surface water from nitrate pollution from farming activities, and these are expected to be toughened over time.
 
Monitor: For the first time, board members of NHS Trusts seeking foundation trust status will be asked to make a declaration confirming that they have provided all relevant information to Monitor in the course of the assessment process. The health sector regulator is asking boards of applicant trusts to make the assurance in a letter of representation before the trust can be considered for foundation trust status.
 
New guidance for applicant trusts, issued by Monitor last week, also allows the regulator to require applicant trusts to commission an external review into service performance or governance arrangements where the trust has not presented enough evidence to meet the authorisation criteria.
 
WAG: A new smartphone app offering guidance, support & information has been launched.  SNAP Cymru’s bilingual app, Wmff!, aims to encourage young people aged 11-25 to seek support & advice for themselves on a range of issues including bullying, exclusions, getting back into education, finding work and young people’s rights. 
 
The new app will allow young people to send an instant message to a worker from the SNAP helpline, or email or call the helpline directly. They can also listen & watch young people speak about their own experiences or join a secure online forum and talk to other young people about their problems. 
 
CO: The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, which is part of the Cabinet Office, has announced the publication of its internal guidance on aspects of legislation and the Parliamentary process. This builds on the publication of Parliamentary Counsel’s drafting guidance and the Cabinet Office’s guidance to departments about the process of creating primary legislation (called the Guide to Making Legislation).
 
Over the next few months a series of pamphlets will be published, with the first batch published last week.

Annual Reports

LSIS: The findings report from Phase Two of the review of further education teacher and training qualifications has been published by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). The majority of 350 respondents supported the proposals to simplify the existing system of initial teacher training qualifications, including those for teachers of English, literacy, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), mathematics, and those teaching disabled learners.
 
ESRCIn 40 years’ time the UK will be a more diverse but more integrated society, according to research at the University of Leeds, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  Ethnic minorities will make up a fifth of the population but they will be less concentrated in the big cities, the report says.
 
HEFCE: A report published by the Higher Education Funding Council England gives comprehensive information for the first time about the destinations of students studying for higher education (HE) qualifications registered at HEFCE-funded further education colleges (FECs).
 
PC&PE: Despite sustained criticism over a prolonged period the Care Quality Commission has not yet successfully defined its core purpose or earned public confidence, according to MPs on the Health Select Committee.
 
NAOIn respect of its largest defence projects there are early signs that the Ministry of Defence has begun to make realistic trade-offs between cost, time, technical requirements and the amount of equipment to be purchased.  Nevertheless, the continuing variances to cost & time show the MOD needs to do consistently better.  The uncertainties these introduce reduce the MOD’s ability to plan & manage the defence budget effectively, according to a report yesterday by the National Audit Office.

LSIS:  The findings report from Phase Two of the review of further education teacher and training qualifications has been published by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS).  The majority of 350 respondents supported the proposals to simplify the existing system of initial teacher training qualifications, including those for teachers of English, literacy, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), mathematics, and those teaching disabled learners.

Press release & links 

ESRC:  In 40 years’ time the will be a more diverse but more integrated society, according to research at the University of Leeds , funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  Ethnic minorities will make up a fifth of the population but they will be less concentrated in the big cities, the report says.

Press release ~ What happens when international migrants settle? Ethnic group trends and projections for UK local areas under alternative scenarios 

HEFCE:  A report published by the Higher Education Funding Council England gives comprehensive information for the first time about the destinations of students studying for higher education (HE) qualifications registered at HEFCE-funded further education colleges (FECs).

Press release & links 

PC&PE:  Despite sustained criticism over a prolonged period the Care Quality Commission has not yet successfully defined its core purpose or earned public confidence, according to MPs on the Health Select Committee.

Press release & links ~ CQC statement on Health Select Committee report  

NAO:  In respect of its largest defence projects there are early signs that the Ministry of Defence has begun to make realistic trade-offs between cost, time, technical requirements and the amount of equipment to be purchased.  Nevertheless, the continuing variances to cost & time show the MOD needs to do consistently better.  The uncertainties these introduce reduce the MOD’s ability to plan & manage the defence budget effectively, according to a report yesterday by the National Audit Office.

Press release & links

General Reports and Other Publications

PX: A new report, The Superfast and the Furious, from Policy Exchange says that politicians have become overly focused on broadband speeds.  The internet is central to modern life, and next generation fixed & mobile broadband are unquestionably vitally important for the economy.  
 
But the case for spending any more taxpayers' money to subsidise very fast connectivity is weak. Instead the government should focus on helping the 10.8m people not online - half of whom are over 65 - and do more to help small businesses make the most of the opportunities presented by the internet.
 
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has published the findings of research looking at consumer attitudes to the labelling of genetically modified (GM) food and the use of 'GM-free' labelling. The Agency commissioned this research to inform discussions within Europe about GM labelling and to ensure the UK public’s views were understood and represented.
 
Socitm'Smart city' thinking, where effective use of information & technology informs policy & decision-making, could make all government smart, argues Socitm's latest briefing. Smart cities: how are they really different? points out that leaders in urban areas are not the only ones that should be looking to deliver better outcomes for their citizens based on 'smart thinking'.
 
While cities have specific problems, particularly congestion and social issues, all government can be made smarter by application of information to make the best use of the resources available.   Technology is giving government the opportunity to collect & analyse data from its records and real-time sources to produce information upon which it can act to make its operations more efficient, and its products and services more effective for communities.
 
ScotGov: A Report published by the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee calls on the SNP to ‘lay its current approach to the upcoming referendum on Separation aside and legislate for a referendum that all will agree is completely fair and neutral – and therefore unquestionably legitimate - as possible’.
 
The Committee is concerned that in a number of aspects of the process the Scottish Government appears to be pursuing partisan advantage, rather than seeking consensus.   The Committee says that despite the real difficulties caused by prolonged delay, ScotGov is insisting on holding the referendum as late as possible and, despite agreeing to the impartial oversight of the Electoral Commission, it has refused to commit to be bound by the decisions of this neutral referee.
 
PC&PE: Councillors have a vital role to play if communities are to make the most of the opportunities offered by localism, and people from all walks of life should be encouraged to stand at local elections, say MPs on the Communities and Local Government Committee, when launching their report of a recent inquiry that looked at the role of a modern councillor.

Legislation / Legal

DCMS: Rule changes announced last week will mean that community venues – including community centres, schools, village halls & hospitals – will be exempt from licensing restrictions on a range of entertainment and cultural events.  They will be free to put on events like dance displays & concerts without having to apply to the local council for a licence.
 
Following Parliamentary approval, DCMS expect the measures to come into effect in England & Wales by April 2013.    The remaining legislative measures for live & recorded music will be introduced to Parliament as soon as possible.  They also intend to consult next year  on measures that examine community film screenings.
 
CC: The Competition Commission is to investigate the proposed merger of the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH) and Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (PH). The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred the merger to the CC, which will decide whether the acquisition may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition.
 
This is the first merger between 2 NHS foundation trusts to be examined by the CC since the enactment of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA), which confirmed the OFT and CC’s roles in assessing the competition aspects of mergers involving foundation trusts.
 
Ofgem:  New Ofgem rules came into force last week to ensure energy suppliers do more to detect, prevent & investigate gas theft. Gas suppliers will also be required to set up a new body to help improve theft detection by March 2014.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The Commission has adopted a Communication on Customs Risk Management and the Security of the Supply Chain.  It sets out a strategy to enable customs to better tackle risks associated with goods being traded in international supply chains.  It involves more rational use of resources, better quality & availability of trade data, and deeper partnership with trade and international partners.
 
EU NewsEuropean Parliament rapporteurs have presented 2 draft reports on the reform of the EU's data protection rules proposed by the European Commission just a year ago.  The European Parliament's LIBE Committee discussed the draft reports on 10 January 2013.
 
EU News: A new project which will boost security & the safety of maritime routes across 7 African countries in the Gulf of Guinea was announced recently by the European Union.   The Critical Maritime Routes in the Gulf of Guinea Programme (CRIMGO) will help governments across West & Central Africa to improve safety of the main shipping routes by providing training for coastguards and establishing a network to share information between countries & agencies across the region.
 
EU News: The European Medicines Agency has issued an update in response to growing media reports about combined contraceptives and venous thromboembolism (blood clots in veins).
 
EU News: The European Ombudsman has strongly criticised the European Commission's refusal to give access to documents concerning its view of the UK opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

This follows a complaint from the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), a Brussels-based NGO, which wanted to find out why UK citizens do not enjoy the same fundamental rights as other EU citizens. The Commission rejected the Ombudsman's recommendation that it disclose the documents, without giving adequate reasons.
 
ScotGovRules designed to prevent nitrate pollution of the water environment, in designated areas of Scotland, have been revised – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

DFID: Britain has set out its commitments on international development over the next 2 years of government. The Coalition government underlined its promise to deliver real results from UK aid whilst ensuring value for money for taxpayers in a mid-term review of its programme so far. It also reaffirmed its commitment to spend 0.7% of the UK's national income on overseas aid by the end of 2013 – and to put this pledge into law.
 
BHFBritish Heart Foundation’s Furniture & Electrical Stores are calling on people to donate their unwanted household goods after buying new items in the January sales (they offer a free collection service).  

Shockingly, 18% of people even admitted that they throw away their unwanted furniture & electrical items after buying new goods! Their Stores are always looking for donations of sofas, chairs, dining sets, beds & wardrobes plus an array of electrical items including TVs, Hi-Fis, washing machines, fridges and dishwashers.
 
BIG: An innovative project to use urban horses to help rehabilitate substance misusers in Swansea and a project to help hundreds of women ex-offenders to settle back into their communities are among the range of projects throughout Wales to share in more than £2.2m awarded by the Big Lottery Fund.
Press release & links
 
DCMS: Rule changes announced last week will mean that community venues – including community centres, schools, village halls & hospitals – will be exempt from licensing restrictions on a range of entertainment and cultural events – See ‘Legislation / Legal’ section for more information.

Business and Other Briefings

Schedule 23 Finance Act 2011 - collection of National Insurance numbers and other tax identification numbers by financial institutions

Industry News

OSOrdnance Survey has launched the organisation’s first official mobile app for iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch.  OS MapFinder, is an ideal iOS app for outdoor enthusiasts or anyone participating in outdoor activities; is free to download and includes free overview mapping for the whole of Great Britain.  Once downloaded OS MapFinder allows users to purchase & download more detailed map data for outdoor use.

Forthcoming Event

CIPDCIPD Employee Engagement Conference & Workshop, 29-30 January 2013.
 
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Hay Group Insight are calling on employers to review their engagement strategies in order to drive performance & business growth. There is now compelling evidence that organisations with high employee engagement have greater organisational productivity & performance.
 
The Conference will explore the key pillars of sustainable engagement and ways in which leaders need to adapt to drive their engagement agenda forward in a changing business environment.
 
GPSeSourcing Suite training  - more dates available  - sessions are limited to 20 People. The Government Procurement Service is continuing its training programme for 2013 and have several dates available.  If you would like to book onto one of these sessions please complete the enquiry form, stating your required date.  The log in details for each Webex session will be issued through a meeting invitation which will be sent out at least a week before the event.
 
ACE: Book now for the FREE Digital R&D in the Arts Forum at Manchester Town Hall on Wednesday 6 February 2013.
 
This free event will explore the nature of collaborative technology relationships, risk taking and knowledge sharing in the arts informed by the experience of various initiatives including, but not restricted to, the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts.

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