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In the News

IPCCLies, Damned Lies and Police Crime Statistics! - The Independent Police Complaints Commission has published the findings of its investigation into the working practices of Southwark Sapphire Unit between July 2008 & September 2009.  The IPCC took the decision to examine the local practices for the reporting & investigation of sexual offences on the borough after 4 previous IPCC investigations into Southwark Sapphire unit.

The findings of a fifth investigation concerning a rape reported to Walworth police station in November 2008 have also been published.  

The Southwark Sapphire unit adopted its own standard operating procedure designed to encourage officers to take retraction statements from victims in cases where it was thought they might later withdraw or not reach the standard for prosecution.  By increasing the number of incidents that were then classified as ‘no crime’ sanction-detection rates improved and the performance statistics for the unit benefited.
CO:  An issue that is still very much in the news - The internet-related market in the UK is now estimated to be worth £82bn a year.  British businesses earn £1 in every £5 from the internet.  The growth of the internet has transformed our everyday lives and is an important part of our economy.  But with greater openness, interconnection & dependency comes greater vulnerability.

The National Security Strategy categorised cyber attacks as a Tier One threat to our national security, alongside international terrorism.  The threat to our national security from cyber attacks is real & growing.  93% of large corporations & 76% of small businesses reported a cyber breach in the past year.

With the cost for a cyber-security breach estimated between £110,000 to 250,000 for large businesses and £15,000 to 30,000 for smaller ones, the government must look at new ways to protect businesses and make the UK more resilient to cyber-attacks and crime.
PC&PEAnd then there are all the other areas of concern - In a report released last week, Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy says the National Security Council (NSC) has not maintained its strategic focus since completing the National Security Strategy (NSS) and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in 2010 and calls on the Government to address 5 key areas of concern.
Press release & links ~ Government has failed to engage with arguments, says Committee on National Security Strategy ~ RUSI: Al-Qa'ida is re-grouping and re-energising itself in Africa ~ MPs publish report on Developing Threats: Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMP) ~ UK needs Strategic National Air Service for Emergency Services ~ RUSI: The British Way of Strategy-Making: Vital Lessons For Our Times ~ CH: New Report: UK Foreign Policy Goals Cannot Be Achieved by Military Power Alone ~ CH: Threat of Cyber Attacks on CNI Requires an Urgent Response ~ MPs publish report on Strategic Defence and Security Review ~ MOD launches Building Stability Overseas Strategy ~  Emergency Planning Society ~ Defra: Infrastructure must adapt to protect economic growth from the threat of climate change ~ Changing climate, changing infrastructure ~ Security on River Thames ~ Crisis management & business continuity planning ~ RUSI: Emergency Management ~ National Risk Register ~ National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) ~ Office of Security and Counter Terrorism ~ Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure ~ EU News: ‘Smart borders': enhancing mobility and security

NAOMust try harder - The current government procurement strategy is the most coherent approach to reform yet, according to the National Audit Office, and has resulted in savings.  While progress has been made, there have been problems in implementing the reforms including the lack of enforcement of the mandate to use a centralised approach.

There have been problems in implementing the reforms, including ineffective governance structures, unrealistic targets, incomplete data and weaknesses in contract management.  Either the Cabinet Office will need to create more effective levers, or it will have to win 'hearts & minds', and demonstrate that it has the capability & capacity to deliver a high-quality central procurement function.
Press release ~ NAO: Improving government procurement (See also related links & reports) ~ Government Procurement ~ Public Accounts Committee releases report on Managing the Defence Inventory ~ GPS: Procurement update: February 2013 ~ GPS: Insurance Services framework now live ~ CBI comments on NAO report on improving government procurement ~ Next Generation Shared Services to save millions for taxpayers ~ Cabinet Office work to “shop” poor procurement work and boost SMEs sees over 300 complaints investigated ~ WAG: Maximising the impact of Welsh Procurement Policy ~ CBI comments on Government procurement reform programme ~ Growth boost for business as Government shares future buying needs worth up to £84bn ~ DH: Ethical procurement training launched for NHS staff ~ NAO: One wonders what a similar report on the NHS inventory would turn up (7th item) ~ CO: First Independent Shared Service Centre to deliver government back office savings

BIG:  BIG funds a ‘Big Easy’ project - Children & young people at risk of recurring abuse are set to be the first in the UK to benefit from a groundbreaking US approach which ‘aims to overcome the impact and long term effect of childhood abuse and neglect’.

The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), Scotland has announced over £1m in funding for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Scotland’s Glasgow based project which is running a 4 year clinical trial of the New Orleans Intervention Model (NIM) devised by Tulane Infant Team, Tulane University, Louisiana.

Working with children aged between 6 months and 5 years-old NIM offers an intensive approach working with children who have been abused, leading to an early resolution in decisions regarding their future.  BIG is providing a grant of £1m+ towards the trial.
MonitorWhat else could they have done? - Monitor has started the procedure for putting the first foundation trust into administration in order to safeguard services for local patients.  The sector regulator is consulting the Health Secretary & key organisations about the prospective appointment of Trust Special Administrators to lead the changes in Mid Staffordshire.
PC&PE:  We owe them the best system - The House of Commons Defence Committee says the Government should change the role of the Service Complaints Commissioner to one of an Armed Forces Ombudsman, holding the Services to account for the proper administration of their complaints processes &the delivery of justice, and identifying possible improvements to the system.

The existing Commissioner has regularly reported that the current Service complaints system is not efficient, effective or fair and needs simplification & redesign.

The Committee was concerned & is disappointed to hear that Service personnel do not always have confidence to pursue a potential complaint through the chain of command under the existing system. While some Service personnel may pursue the matter through the Commissioner, the Committee is worried that some may decide not to pursue their grievance at all.
Press release & links ~ Service Complaints Commissioner ~ MoD:  No other public service is asked to do so much for so little reward (2nd item)

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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the
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General News

CEOP: The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and Microsoft have teamed up so it’s easier for Windows 8 users to access CEOP’s online safety advice pages or make a report about suspicious or inappropriate contact online.

Through a new app, downloadable for FREE from the Windows store, parents & children can quickly explore CEOP’s award winning educational videos, see the latest campaigns or follow CEOP’s Facebook page or Twitter feed updates.
LRLand Registry has announced the names of the local authorities who will take part in a prototype to see if their local land charge registers can be consolidated into a digitised central register.  If successful, this means Land Registry could provide local land charge searches alongside the title register and plan through its existing e-channels, to a standardised price, format & turnaround time.
EH: In the only displays of their kind to be seen regularly in this country, horses return to Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire for the first time in over 3 centuries!  In unique twice daily performances every weekend from Easter until Sunday 1 September 2013 (excluding August bank holiday) visitors will witness breathtaking displays of the advanced dressage training techniques introduced to England in the 17th century.
Today, just 4 schools of classical dressage remain in the world and Bolsover Castle will be the only place in the country to stage regular performances of this spectacular art.  Entrance to the twice daily displays is included in the normal admission price to Bolsover Castle, with no extra charge.
TfL: While the Tube upgrade programme is under way, all planned engineering work is publicised in advance.  Transport for London (TfL) offers a range of free online travel tools to help passengers plan their journeys.
Ofsted: Teams of Ofsted inspectors have carried out a week of co-ordinated inspections in Portsmouth to ‘find out why the city has a disproportionate number of under-performing schools – and whether the picture is improving’.
The most recent published data shows that only 34% of secondary school children in Portsmouth attend a good or better school.  For primary school children, the figure is 53%.
CIPD: Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development has responded to the publication of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report on the Work Programme.
TfLThe Mayor and Transport for London have unveiled measures to increase journeys on the Thames, with a target of doubling the number of river passengers by 2020.

TfL's 'River Action Plan' sets out the improvements that will be made to river services over the next 7 years  to ensure that Londoners & visitors are making the most of the capital's famous waterway and that it reaches its full potential. 
NENatural England is alerting farmers & other land managers that they need to get any application for new agreements under the current Energy Crops Scheme submitted by Saturday 31 August 2013.  Applications from land managers or their agents must be in by this date for new agreements to start by the end of December 2013.
The aim of the Energy Crops Scheme is to support the planting of miscanthus and short rotation coppice in appropriate locations.   Energy crops are used as a substitute for fossil fuels, they can contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and help to combat climate change.
MO: The Met Office has introduced Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) flood warnings on its website so users can access weather & flood warnings all in one place
Updated every 15 minutes, the widget available on the MO homepage provides an overview of Flood Alerts & Warnings that are in force.  More detailed information including a map & details of areas affected are also available so that users can keep up to date with the latest information when flooding is forecast.
DWP: Senior occupational physician Dr Paul Litchfield has been appointed to carry out the 4th independent review of the Work Capability Assessment. The review will continue the process of ensuring the assessment is as fair & accurate as possible in helping people back to work if they are able, while giving financial support to those who need it.
NENatural England has confirmed that all criteria have been met to ‘allow control of badgers to begin in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB)’. Each licence has a 4-year term, authorising 6-week control operations to be carried out annually between 1 June & 31 January.
CLG: Fire Minister Brandon Lewis recently announced the completion of the sale of the Fire Service College to Capita.  The minister said that ‘the college has at long last been given the best possible chance to fully realise the huge potential for this world-class asset’.
HLHomeless Link have announced the latest Future Ready grants.   These grants of up to £25,000 are available through the Homelessness Transition Fund to support activities such as business planning, restructuring & skills development. 

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: Households across all of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities are to benefit from a freeze in their Council Tax payments for the sixth year in a row Finance Secretary John Swinney announced recently.
ScotGovScotland has become one of the world’s first Fair Trade Nations, International Development Minister Humza Yousaf announced last week. The news comes on the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight 2013 and follows a nationwide campaign led by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum that has seen the people of Scotland rally behind Fair Trade principles.
CLG: A new fund will deliver the infrastructure that Enterprise Zones need to become economic engine rooms & drive growth across the country. The government is inviting Enterprise Zones to apply for £59m worth of investment to help ‘turn shovel ready sites into job ready sites’ by completing key infrastructure projects.
This fund will ‘help zones with real growth potential to put in place the infrastructure required to unlock sites so businesses can set up’. This could mean links to local road networks or reconfiguring site layouts; upgrading or installing utilities like electricity and water; or reclaiming contaminated land.
ScotGov: A nationwide debate got underway last week to ensure Scotland becomes a world class digital nation by 2020.  ‘Scotland’s Digital Dialogue’ will see a series of workshops, demonstrations, conferences and debates take place from now until the end of May, led by the Scottish Government in partnership with prominent digital experts, universities & business leaders.
A World Class 2020 Research Report published last week has helped to shape the ScotGov’s vision for how Scotland will use digital technology in the future and how it can make the most of a world class digital infrastructure by 2020.  
WAG: The Minister with responsibility for the Welsh language, Leighton Andrews, has announced that he will not be proceeding with the Welsh Language Commissioner’s recommended Welsh language standards.

The Minister believed they ‘would not achieve the aim of providing clear rights for Welsh speakers to use the language of their choice and that there were concerns that some of the proposed standards appear to be beyond the scope of the Measure and that some contradict each other’.
The Minister proposes to build on the Commissioner’s consultation to ‘develop a set of standards that will fully meet the policy aims reflected in the Measure and the commitments given to the National Assembly for Wales by the Minister at the time’.
DECC: A long term plan to ensure the government’s renewable heat scheme for commercial, industrial & community organisations stays within budget has been set out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  DECC is also making a number of other improvements to the scheme following consultation in July last year.
The changes to both air quality & metering will be in place no later than the end of 2013 subject to parliamentary approval and will apply to all new installations only. It is DECC’s intention for the RHI to remain open to new applicants until 2020.
WAGCommunity groups have a very important role in helping us meet our climate change & renewable energy targets in Wales. This was the message from Environment Minister, John Griffiths, who outlined how the community energy scheme, Ynni’r Fro is providing intensive support to 24 community renewable projects that embrace hydro, wind & anaerobic digestion technologies.
Ynni’r Fro is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Welsh Government funded programme that supports the creation & expansion of sustainable social enterprises by working with communities to identify renewable energy generation projects across Wales.
DH: Confirmation of the arrangements for Payment by Results (PbR) in 2013-14 is available.  The PbR road test exercise concluded on 25 January 2013, and a number of changes have been made as a result of the feedback.
ScotGovIndependence can benefit consumers & businesses by strengthening & streamlining economic and competition regulation in areas such as energy and postal services, Finance Secretary John Swinney claimed, when he unveiled a discussion paper on regulation to business leaders in Stirling recently.
The document suggests that instead of the UK’s 6 different economic & competition regulatory bodies, an independent Scotland combine their functions into 1 or 2 organisations. These bodies would regulate the energy, telecommunications, postal services, water and rail sectors, as well as issues around competition in commercial markets. 
CO: In a move that will ‘drive up performance across Whitehall’, all civil servants will from April 2013 have to perform to a unified set of standards.  Last week the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, launched a new competency framework for the Civil Service which will ‘focus on achieving results, continuous improvement and breaking down departmental silos’.
DfE: On 1 March 2013, the Secretary of State announced details of the capital funding of around £4bn that will be made available to create new school places and to carry out maintenance & repair work to existing school buildings.
DCMS: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Government Equalities Office and Olympic Delivery Authority have now moved their content to the new GOV.UK website, joining 12 other departments.  Content from all remaining departments will be brought into the site in the coming few months,
CO: The first independently-run shared service centre will deliver significant government savings over a 7-year period. The initiative, which is a key part of the Civil Service Reform Plan, will ‘harness the very best private sector expertise to deliver savings for the taxpayer of up to £600m a year’.
Combined with the second Independent Shared Service Centre, which will come on stream early next year, business could grow by taking on additional customers from both the public & the private sectors, as well as offering new services to existing customers as required.


BIS: Businesses & working families are invited to submit their views on how the system for shared parental leave & pay will work, Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson announced last week.   The consultation will look at how the new system will work & fit together with current arrangements for maternity & paternity leave and adopters, as part of the government’s commitment to create a modern workplace.
This will influence how the government legislates under the Children & Families Bill 2013, introduced earlier this month, which includes the proposals for shared parental leave & flexible working. 
Acas is separately seeking views from employees & employers, particularly small businesses, who have difficulties managing requests for flexible working fairly. Their draft Code is designed to offer short, practical advice to make it easier for employers to handle requests which they can adapt to fit their own workplace procedures. Both consultations close on 20 May 2013.
HEFCE: The Higher Education Funding Council England is inviting advice on developing the 4 UK funding bodies’ joint policy on open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).  

This advice will contribute to the development of consultation proposals (which will run later in 2013) on implementing an open access requirement in the next REF exercise.  The deadline for responses to their letter is 25 March 2013.
EU News: The European Commission has launched 2 public consultations on specific measures which could improve tax collection and ensure better tax compliance across the EU:
* Development of a European Taxpayer's Code, which would clarify the rights & obligations of both taxpayers & tax authorities
* A European Tax Identification Number (EU TIN), which would facilitate the proper identification of taxpayers in the EU
Contributions must be submitted online no later than 17 May 2013 using the available electronic questionnaires
ScotGovPlans to improve the efficiency of Scotland’s courts and create new summary sheriffs to deal with lower-level civil & criminal cases are among measures announced last week to further modernise the justice system.
The measures - in the Scottish Government’s Courts Reform consultation - follow recommendations set out by Lord Gill in his Scottish Civil Courts Review.  

They will lead to ‘the largest overhaul of the court structure in a generation, including modernising procedures to ensure the courts are more responsive to the public’s need and enabling cases to be dealt with more swiftly and efficiently, at the appropriate level’.  Consultation closes on 24 May 2013.
ScotGov: A consultation on the roles, responsibilities & functions of Scotland’s new food safety body has been announced recently. The consultation is an opportunity for consumers, and industry, to tell the Scottish Government what they think the new food body should do, and how food safety & standards should be addressed in the future. The consultation closes on 22 May 2013 and is also being supported by a number of stakeholder events.
In addition, former chief vet Professor Jim Scudamore has been asked to lead an expert group to consider lessons learned from recent incidents.  The group have been asked recommend improvements in the food safety regime that can be made quickly, ahead of the creation of the new body. 

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

OFT: The OFT has recently published guidance which sets out how & when it can use its new power to suspend consumer credit licences. Under the Financial Services Act 2012, the OFT can only use the new power where there is an urgent need to protect consumers from harm.
The guidance establishes that in the most serious cases, which include those where there is evidence of physical harm, the OFT will suspend a licence with immediate effect.  In other circumstances, businesses will be given an opportunity to make its case to an adjudicator before the suspension takes effect.
ScotGov: A workload measurement & planning tool to determine appropriate nursing levels is being rolled out for community nurses. It will be available to all health boards from May 2013.  It has been designed to ensure that communities have the right numbers & mix of nursing staff.
The tool looks at the number of patients, the complexity of the care provided by community nurses, time required for & mode of travel, and also factors in additional time for unexpected disruptions, or tasks such as administration.   It then calculates the number of staff required to provide safe, effective & person centred care to the patients.
NICEPatients with atrial fibrilation can now be offered apixaban (Eliquis) as an alternative to warfarin to reduce the risk of stroke & blood clots, says NICE. NICE recommends that apixaban can be used as an option for the prevention of stroke & systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular AF and one or more risk factors.
NICE: NICE's quality standard on asthma could improve the lives of millions by driving up the quality of care for people with the condition, say experts. Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition in the UK, with around 5.4m people currently receive treatment for asthma, 1.1m of whom are children.
Treatment goals are to help people manage their condition, and to lead symptom-free, normal, active lives.  This is because a cure is not usually possible, as the causes of most forms of asthma are not fully understood. The NICE quality standard for asthma contains 11 measures to help improve the diagnosis & treatment of the condition in adults, young people and children.

Annual Reports

PC&PE: The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has recently criticised Research Councils UK’s (RCUK) for failures in its communication of its open access policy.  

The report says the previous lack of clarity about RCUK’s policy & guidance was ‘unacceptable’. The report calls on RCUK to monitor the effects of open access in its autumn 2014 review and beyond.
PC&PE: In a new report, the Procedure Committee invites the House to expand the tabling of explanatory statements on amendments to all bills at both Committee and Report stage from the start of the 2013–14 Session.
NAO: Amyas Morse, Comptroller & Auditor General, has refused to fully sign off the 2011-12 accounts of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.  The C&AG’s audit opinion was qualified due to the Department’s accounts not accurately reflecting the value of certain assets held within the Group. The BBC has indicated to the Department that it will supply figures on a fair value basis for future years.
WA: Since its introduction in 2003, significant sums of money have been spent implementing an amended NHS consultant contract in Wales.  Despite this, the intended benefits for the health service are not being fully realised, largely because of weaknesses in consultants' job planning arrangements.  

Those are the conclusions of a report published recently by the Auditor General for Wales.
.  Those are the conclusions of a report published recently by the .

General Reports and Other Publications

PC&PE: In a new report, the Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) concludes, despite the positive steps implemented by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, there remain issues & concerns about the way government statistics are produced & disseminated, which remain a genuine risk to public confidence in the statistical system and must be addressed. 
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee has published a Report which, on the basis of evidence from the Department for Transport, examined the cancellation of the InterCity West Coast franchise competition.
FSA: A report, published by the Food Standards Agency in Scotland, has recommended that the use of livestock feed additives & cattle vaccines should be investigated for the control of E.coli O157 on UK farms.
E.coli O157 is a serious gastrointestinal pathogen which can be transmitted from cattle faeces to humans via the environment or through the food chain.  A literature review identified 3 control strategies which had been shown to reduce the prevalence and/or shedding of E.coli O157 by infected cattle.
HL: A new system regulating private landlords is just one of a basket of measures being called for to help end homelessness in England. With the latest Government figures showing an 11% rise in the number of homeless people, the umbrella body Homeless Link has mapped out steps that need to be taken to prevent & tackle homelessness against a backdrop of service cuts & welfare reform. 

‘A place to call your home’, launched in Parliament last week, sets out measures that need to be taken over the next 3, 5 & 10 years.

Legislation / Legal

HMRC: A tax avoidance scheme set up to allow wealthy people to pay little or no tax on their income has been successfully challenged by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in court.  The court ruling has protected £156m in tax from a scheme, which the tribunal said ‘if it had been successful, its effect would have been to make the payment of income tax voluntary’.
LGANew planning laws aimed at accelerating the rollout of broadband across Britain could also give free rein for 50 ft high mobile phone masts to be built anywhere developers choose to put them

Councils have major concerns that Government proposals to relax planning restrictions on the siting of telecoms infrastructure could open the floodgates to phone masts, as well as broadband street cabinets & overhead cabling, being built in the countryside and near to people's homes.
Clause 8 in the Government's Growth and Infrastructure Bill removes the need for developers to seek planning approval for new telecoms infrastructure.  
LC: In a report published last week the Law Commission is recommending reforms that will bring the Electronic Communications Code up to date with modern technology while continuing to balance the rights of landowners and the public demand for modern communications services.

The Code was enacted in 1984 to regulate landline telephone provision.  Since then it has been adapted to help deliver broadband, mobile internet, cable TV, mobile phones & landlines to the whole of the UK.  It governs the legal relationship between network providers & landowners.
OFT: The OFT has announced that Tesco'sappeal in relation to the OFT's 2011 Dairy Retail Price Initiatives decision has been brought to an end by Order of the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) as agreed between the parties. Tesco will pay a penalty of £6.5m.  The CAT upheld the OFT's findings that Tesco broke competition law three times by co-ordinating increases in the prices consumers paid for cheese in 2002.
HO: A number of so-called 'legal highs' including Black Mamba and Mexxy became illegal Class B drugs last week.
DfT: The Road User Levy Act became law last week paving the way for a fairer deal for UK hauliers.  Most EU states already charge lorries for using their roads which means that British vehicles have to pay to drive in Europe, while foreign lorries can drive in the UK without paying for the wear & tear they cause on the roads.
The new charge will be introduced in April 2014  and will be a time-based charge of up to £1,000p.a. or £10 a day and will apply to lorries weighing more than 12 tonnes, using UK roads.
HO: The Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which will come into effect later in 2013, will require metal dealers to satisfy their local authority that they are a legitimate trader.  It will give local authorities & the police the power to revoke licenses where they suspect illegal activity, helping clamp down on the estimated 1,000 metal thefts per week which cost the UK around £220m a year.
Magistrates will also be able to issue unlimited fines to any metal trader they find dealing in cash, operating without a licence or breaching the licence conditions.
OFT: The OFT has recently published guidance which sets out how & when it can use its new power to suspend consumer credit licences. Under the Financial Services Act 2012, the OFT can only use the new power where there is an urgent need to protect consumers from harm – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information.
ScotGovPlans to improve the efficiency of Scotland’s courts and create new summary sheriffs to deal with lower-level civil & criminal cases are among measures announced last week to further modernise the justice system.   The measures - in the Scottish Government’s Courts Reform consultation - follow recommendations set out by Lord Gill in his Scottish Civil Courts Review - See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU NewsProtection from second hand smoke has improved considerably in the EU, according to a report published by the Commission recently.  28% of Europeans were exposed to second hand smoke in bars in 2012 – down from 46% in 2009.
ScotGov: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out an independent Scotland’s place in the European Union. She has also again called on the UK Government to work with the Scottish Government to ‘prepare a precise scenario for the European Commission on an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU’.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed to better protect workers from risks linked to exposure to chemicals at the workplace.

 In particular, the Commission has proposed to amend 5 existing EU health & safety Directives on protection of workers from exposure to harmful chemicals to align them with the latest rules on classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals (Regulation (EC) 1272/2008). The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for adoption.
EU News: Minister for Education & Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, addressed top EU policy makers in Brussels last week on the Irish Presidency priorities of stability, jobs & growth and the theme of The Three Unions: From banking to economic to political?’  He also signalled that he did not believe changes to EU Treaties would be an issue in the short term
EU News: The European Commission has recently, on Rare Disease Day 2013, announced €144m of new funding for 26 research projects on rare diseases.  The projects will help improve the lives of some of the 30m Europeans suffering from a rare disease and bring together over 300 participants from 29 countries in Europe & beyond, including teams from leading academic institutions, SMEs & patients' groups.
EU News: Recently, the European Commission proposed measures to keep Europe's space industry competitive and to set up a European satellite collision avoidance system.

The Commission proposes a new industrial policy for the European space sector, with a number of targets:
* to increase industry skill levels, to make finance & investment more readily available
* to ensure the EU's independence in space
* to reshape the EU's legislative framework to make it a driver for industry
EU News: The European Commission has published new guidelines on how Member States should use financial incentives to best increase demand for low CO2 emission vehicles.  Currently, rules on financial incentives differ across the EU, but a common framework could help facilitate the assembly of larger quantities of such vehicles, prompting lower prices for consumers.
EU News: The European Commission has launched 2 public consultations on specific measures which could improve tax collection and ensure better tax compliance across the EU.  Contributions must be submitted online no later than 17 May 2013 – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

WAG: Youth workers from across Wales have been recognised for their hard work & dedication at this year’s Youth Work Wales Excellence Awards. The awards, organised by the Welsh Government, are a chance for youth workers, youth projects & young people involved in youth work to be recognised by the communities they serve.
HMT: The Chancellor has recently announced that a further £1.3m will be given to causes & charities supporting the armed forces community. This money comes from fines levied on banks for attempting to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) benchmark.  
CONew workshops will help charities, voluntary organisations & social enterprises to win & deliver public service contracts. The first workshops to help charities, voluntary organisations & social enterprises (VCSEs) capitalise on opportunities to work for government are now open for registration..
Developed by the government with partners in the private & voluntary sectors, the masterclasses will use case studies, practical tools and the direct experiences of experts to guide organisations through what is required to win & deliver public service contracts.
BIGWorld War II veterans will be able to apply for funding for a second commemorative trip under the Heroes Return 2 programme, the Big Lottery Fund announced last week.
DUK: Thousands of people a year endure a diabetes-related foot amputation because their foot ulcer is not treated quickly enough, according to a new report. 

The Diabetes UK report, called Fast Track For A Foot Attack: Reducing Amputations, warns that too many areas do not have the systems in place to ensure foot ulcers & foot infections in people with diabetes are treated within 24 hours.  

This is despite the fact that ulcers can deteriorate extremely quickly and a matter of hours can make the difference between keeping a foot & losing it.
AS80% of people living in care homes – more than ever thought before - have either dementia or severe memory problems according to a new Alzheimer's Society report published recently.  

However, while excellent care exists, less than half of these 322,000 people are enjoying a good quality of life.

Business and Other Briefings

HSEUnsafe practices on construction sites across Wales are to be targeted as part of a national initiative aimed at reducing death, injury & ill health. Between 19 February & 17 March 2013, they will make unannounced visits to ensure duty holders are managing high-risk activity, such as working at height.
Press release & links
TIS: Government proposals that will stop suppliers of IT and other essential services to insolvent businesses from seeking an unfair advantage over other creditors by making increased charges or payments of debts a condition to supply their services were announced recently in an amendment to the Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Bill.
The proposals also require essential suppliers in the IT & utilities sectors to continue to supply goods & services to an insolvency practitioner (IP) trying to rescue a business, unless specifically released by the IP or the court, benefiting creditors & employees.

Safeguards will be provided to ensure that suppliers who are obliged to continue supplying the insolvent business are adequately protected. The Government will consult on the impacts before implementing the proposed powers.
BIS: Thousands of businesses are to be spared from red tape after Business Minister Jo Swinson announced the interim results from the Company and Commercial Law Red Tape Challenge, which show that ‘half of the 115 regulations on the day to day running of a company and the preparing and filing of their accounts are to be scrapped, merged or simplified’.  

This will cut down the dead weight of the statute book by removing redundant legislation and ensure that the remaining regulations are simpler to understand.
BIS: Businesses & working families are invited to submit their views on how the system for shared parental leave & pay will work. The result of the consultation will influence how the government legislates under the Children & Families Bill 2013
Acas is separately seeking views from employees & employers, particularly small businesses, who have difficulties managing requests for flexible working fairly.   Both consultations close on 20 May 2013 - See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Industry News

MoDSmart materials to extend the life of a vehicle or textiles which incorporate electronics are among the ideas being sought by the Ministry of Defence. The Materials & Structures Science and Technology Centre (MAST STC), established by the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl), has launched a call for research proposals in this area.  It places a high priority on the impact that novel materials and technologies can have on defence.

The call for proposals will close on Friday 12 April 2013 at 5:00pm.  All proposals must be submitted via the CDE online portal.  This call will also be supported by a web seminar on Thursday 14 March 2013.
DECC: Latest winners of Offshore Wind Component Technologies Development and Demonstration scheme have been announced, together with a further £4m fourth call opening to applications.

Forthcoming Event

GPS: The Public Sector Show, which takes place on 30 April 2013 at the Business Design Centre in London, is a new event dedicated to showcasing smarter new ways to deliver better services that achieve greater value for the taxpayer.
As a partner of the show, David Shields, Government Procurement Service Managing Director, will deliver a keynote address in the main conference and GPS will also be offering advice to visitors at the exhibition and running a series of five 60-minute seminars.
LSIS: After listening to what delegates had to say about the 2012 event this year’s Learning & Skills Improvement Services Annual Governance Conference has the theme of ‘Impact in a New Era’, and will explore how governors ensure their governance is having an impact.

Governors, clerks & colleges will be able to find out about new tools to help them perform their roles more efficiently, and they will have opportunities for professional development & networking. It takes place on 14 & 15 March 2013, at the Palace Hotel, Manchester.

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