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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

TKFFirst it was pensions & now the government needs to act on planning for a financially sustainable NHS - The public remain firmly wedded to the fundamental principles underpinning the NHS, but under certain circumstances could support the introduction of charges for some treatments & services, suggests a new report (How should we pay for health care in future?) published by The King's Fund and Ipsos MORI.

The report is based on 2 day-long events with members of the public to explore their views about how to pay for health care in the future.  It follows recent research from TKF into the funding challenge facing the NHS, which showed that, on current trends, health & social care could consume half of all government spending in 50 years’ time.

Participants were reluctant to consider fundamental changes to the current funding model, even when confronted with the scale of the funding challenge facing the NHS.  In discussions about how the funding challenge should be addressed, there was some support for introducing payments for some NHS services and for charging patients in certain circumstances.
WAG:  It’s much cheaper to sustain their well-being at home than in a care home or hospital - A new document has been published by the Welsh Government to ‘improve the well-being of people who need care & support and carers who need support’.  The ‘Well-being Statement’ sets out a range of factors that contribute to the well-being of a person, and which people in need of care & support can expect in their daily lives.  

These encompass areas such as participation in society and the right to have a voice in decisions that affect them.  It will also make clear to organisations what differences their services are expected to make. 

The Statement is the first step in the production of a National Outcomes Framework, which is a commitment within Sustainable Social Services, the Welsh Government’s 10-year plan to meet changing needs & expectations of service users, as well as the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Bill

The statement is accompanied by a 3-year improvement plan which will be the basis for a shift in the way social services are planned & delivered in Wales, supporting more control for individuals over the services they receive. 
Press release & links ~ Measuring well-being ~ 3 -year plan for social services improvement: 2013/14 – 2015/16 ~ Improving end of life care in Wales ~ Sustainable Social Services ~ Social Services & Well-Being (Wales) Bill ~ ONS: National well-being ~ The King's Fund response to the Health Select Committee's report on public expenditure on health & social care services ~ TKF responds to the publication of the House of Lords Public Service & Demographic Change Committee’s report – Ready for Ageing? ~ BIG:  Money (or at least charitable funding) can help you to become happier! (4th item) ~ Monitor:  Integrated care is the only way we will be even barely able to afford future care demands (6th item) ~ RCP:  Time to move on from primarily treating people in hospital? (4th item) ~ DH:  Balancing the cost of preventive action against the need for health costs to fall ~ CQC:  Ensuring that they are ‘Cared for’ (4th item) ~ ScotGov:  Your care in your hands (5th item) ~ NHS Confed: Yet more evidence changes to NHS are necessary (6th item) ~ DH: Reform of the NHS is only part of the problem facing the government, they also have to combine it with cost effective social care (2nd item)
COWhile the Civil Service is usually judged to be ‘impartial’, it is not always been thought of as ‘efficient’ - The Cabinet Office has published its Capabilities Plan - a new strategy for improving skills & performance across the Civil Service.  The plan is a key part of the government’s overall Reform Plan, which aims to transform the Civil Service into a high-skilled, high-performance organisation that’s less bureaucratic and more focused on delivering results.

The plan identified 4 priority areas:
* leading & managing change
* commercial skills & behaviours
* programme & project management
* digital skills
Press release & links ~ Capabilities Plan ~ Reform Plan ~ What it means to members of the Civil Service ~ FDA questions whether possible benefits from Civil Service Capability Plan launch will ever see the light of day ~ Institute for Government responds to new capabilities plan ~ RCUK SSC Ltd and GPS join forces to deliver savings & improve procurement ~ New initiative to drive down costs in government back offices ~ Government publishes costs of transactional services for the first time ~ Government raises £1bn for public purse by exiting unused assets ~ £3.5bn growth stimulus for London from Government vacating property ~ New world leading evidence centres to drive better decisions across £200bn of public services ~ First Independent Shared Service Centre to deliver government back office savings ~ Staff survey shows civil service engagement scores are holding up ~ NAO: The beginning of the end for wasteful governmental ICT systems ~ IfG:  Will change in the Civil Service be even harder to achieve than in the NHS? ~ PC&PE:  Time for Sir Humphrey to be replaced? (2nd item) ~ PC&PE:  It is harder to name one government ICT success than 10 expensive failures (3rd item)
DWPProviding credit in a responsible way & at an affordable cost to those in need - The Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) is the successful bidder to deliver the DWP’s £38m Credit Union Expansion Project to help meet the growing demand for modern banking products for people on low incomes.

A recent feasibility study showed that modernising the industry and helping it become financially self-sustainable would enable credit unions to help up to 1m more people, giving them access to banking products, debt advice and affordable loans.

Currently around 7m people fall into the trap of high-cost credit, with some being charged more than 6,000% in interest on short-term loans.  The expansion project will save consumers up to £1bn in loan interest repayments by March 2019.
CONot all top civil servants need to have been to Oxbridge! - A new Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme for the UK Civil Service has opened for applications, giving talented & ambitious young people the opportunity to work at the heart of government.  The scheme is part of the Civil Service Reform Plan and will harness the talent & energy of 18-to-21-year-olds who have chosen not to go to university, but who have the skills & potential that the Civil Service needs to deliver exceptional public services.

Apprentices will have a structured training programme for at least 2 years as they work towards a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Business & Professional Administration.  Applications will be dealt with on a first come first serve basis and the application process will close prior to the published closing date (26 April 2013) if a significant number are received.  
BIGA chance to make a difference to your community - There is less than a month left to enter The People’s Millions TV contest and secure the funds to help make a difference to the lives of people in their communities. The deadline for completed entries is noon 13 May 2013.
EU NewsWill the rest of the EU be ‘constructive’ about negotiating the UK’s requests for change? - EU member states have agreed on the setting up of a new EU single supervisor for banks.  The agreement was accompanied by a political declaration ‘noting that a proposal for Treaty Change will be considered constructively, to ring-fence & strengthen the governance and accountability of the separate supervisory function of the ECB’ – See ‘EU News’ for more information.
Press release & links ~ EU News:  The countdown to a UK referendum has begun as EC outlines timetable for proposed Treaty Changes

HMRCPutting off ‘dreaded’ tasks can be very expensive - If you haven’t sent in your 2011/12 tax return online, be warned – you’ll be hit with more penalties from next month if you still haven’t filed.  

From 1 May, HMRC will charge a £10 daily penalty for each day your online return is late, up to a maximum of 90 days. This is in addition to the initial £100 late-filing penalty for missing the 31 January filing deadline. 

For paper returns, daily penalties started on 1 February, as they were due by the earlier deadline of 31 October, so don’t send a paper return now.
Press release

Latest Public Sector Case Studies: Optimising Revenues from Surplus Assets in the Age of Austerity - The Public Sector austerity agenda has significantly increased the need for a sustainable approach to disposals whilst achieving a financial return from surplus assets, buildings and redundant materials that many Public Sector bodies might view as 'waste'.

This latest paper brings together a selection of public sector case studies including Suffolk Police, the Driving Standards Agency and more recently the Olympic Delivery Authority with assets being disposed of ranging from office furniture to vehicles, white goods, admin support peripherals, uniforms etc through to one-off temporary items.

Secure, compliant and fully audited in each case, the entire disposal process is geared to obtaining best value for money for any assets sold, returning much needed funds back into the public purse.

Click here to receive your free copy.

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

General News

HOCable theft on Britain’s railways has dropped 67% thanks to a co-ordinated clampdown on metal theft. There has also been a 54% reduction in disruption to passenger journeys – which equates to just over 3,000 fewer hours in delays this year compared to the previous year. 

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act will also take effect later this year and will allow local authorities to revoke metal trader licenses where they suspect unlawful activity.
TfL: In the year that The Beatles released their debut album and Doctor Who first aired on BBC television, another little bit of history began in southeast London.  The arrival of 3 new diesel powered ferries on the River Thames, operating between Woolwich and North Woolwich, started a new chapter of the Woolwich Free Ferry, the history of which dates back to the 14th century.
CO: Last week’s appointment of members of the Open Standards Board means the government can get to work on identifying the standards that will allow cheaper & more flexible ways of buying and using its IT, said Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.
The Open Standards Board will concentrate on making sure that government’s open standards meet users’ needs and achieve a level playing field for open source & proprietary software. The standards will ‘encourage more flexible IT contracts and provide access to the wider marketplace, reflecting the government’s determination to move away from tie-in to long-term deals’.
CSPL: Sir Christopher Kelly completed his 5 year term as Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on 31st March 2013.  The Cabinet Office recruitment campaign for his successor is underway and is expected to be completed by July 2013.
WAGCareers Wales has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Welsh Government. The transfer of Careers Wales into public ownership ‘marks the beginning of a more joined-up, refreshed & revitalised service designed to deliver a personalised approach to careers information advice and guidance’.
IfL: The Institute for Learning has responded to the announcement that the government has approved proposals for a new guild for the FE & skills sector and allocated annual funding of £18.8m for the next 2 years.
GPSPricing templates for FY13/14 for Non Medical Non Clinical Resource are now available and can be found in the Government Procurement Service’s eSourcing suite.
SFA: In March 2013 the Schools Funding Agency published ‘A New Streamlined Funding System for Adult Skills’ which contained details of changes to the funding of small qualifications.  SFA announced their intention to only fund small Award size qualifications with a credit value of 3, 6, 9 and 12 from 1 January 2014, with exceptions including some 1 & 2 credit English and mathematics qualifications.
In response to feedback from the sector, SFA are now extending these interim arrangements to the whole of the 2013/2014 funding year.
ACE: A new online knowledge hub, CultureHive, will launch on 23 April 2013 to ‘support the arts & culture sector to produce successful marketing campaigns and develop audiences’, as part of Arts Council England's Audience focus initiative.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Ofsted:  The Chief Inspector of Ofsted recently announced plans to inspect local authority child protection and services for children who are looked after under a single, combined framework.
Sir Michael Wilshaw said that following discussions with local government representatives and after assessing the results of initial pilots, he had taken the decision to defer the proposed new multi-agency child protection inspections involving a number of other inspectorates, that had been planned for launch in June 2013.  

He also said Ofsted would no longer be going ahead with plans to inspect services for looked after children separately.
WAG: There will be a phased closure of the Genesis Cymru Wales 2 programme from July 2013.

 A recent internal review of the programme found that it was underperforming against recruitment, expenditure and performance targets. The review also identified ways in which support available through the Genesis programme could be integrated within other existing employability programmes.
WAG: A Welsh Government programme to get jobless young people into quality employment marked its first anniversary this week with news that it has outstripped its initial job creation target by nearly 50%.  

Launched in April 2012, the Jobs Growth Wales programme funds wages for up to 6 months to allow employers take on unemployed young people with a view to offer them sustainable posts at the end of that period.
CLG: Up to 10,000 new homes for private rent will be underway by 2015, Housing Minister Mark Prisk claimed last week. The minister announced the first 45 projects to be taken forward using the £1bn Build to Rent Fund.
DfT: A new THINK! road safety initiative to encourage motorcyclists to improve their defensive riding skills has been launched. The ‘stay in control’ campaign - which has been developed with partners from the motorcycle industry - advises motorcyclists to ride defensively and seek further training to sharpen their skills.


Ofcom: Ofcom has announced its intention to implement major changes to how telephone numbers are charged, which will make the cost of calling businesses & services clearer for consumers. 

The central measure is designed to tackle consumer confusion about how much it costs to call companies, public bodies and other organisations on numbers starting 08, 09 & 118.
Services provided on these ‘non-geographic’ numbers include information, banking, directory enquiry & entertainment services. Currently, unless using a BT landline, callers to these numbers cannot easily tell how much they will be charged.
In order to implement the changes, certain ‘legal instruments’ are required; these have published in draft form for consultation.  In addition, there are some aspects of Ofcom’s evidence & analysis which stakeholders have not previously had the opportunity to comment upon, and which are being presented for stakeholder review. The consultation closes on 28 May 2013.
FSA: A company has applied to the Food Standards Agency to widen the use of two algal oils under the Novel Food Regulation (EC) No. 258/97.  Views are wanted on the draft opinions, which were prepared by the FSA's independent committee of experts, on these novel food ingredients. Comments should be emailed to the ACNFP Secretariat by Monday 22 April 2013.
CLG: Proposed changes could save self-builders thousands of pounds by ensuring they are exempt from paying a levy charge that must be paid for all new buildings over a certain size. The consultation closes on 28 May 2013.
ScotGov: Plans to simplify & overhaul Scotland’s allotment rules were announced last week, with the consultation closing on 24 May 2013.
LC: The Law Commission is consulting on reform of the law relating to groundless threats of litigation over patents, trade marks & design rights. Infringement litigation can be disruptive & expensive.  The mere threat may cause significant commercial damage to a business by driving customers away.
The law therefore provides protection to businesses that discover that customers & others involved with a product are receiving groundless threats that the product infringes patent, trade mark or design rights. The Commission concludes that this protection is still needed.   The consultation closes 17 July 2013.
BIS: Plans to bring in a new ‘superfast’ patent processing service, which will be capable of granting patents in just 90 days, have been confirmed (Currently it can take a number of years to gain patent protection).   The government has published a consultation on how the service should work (closes on 12 June 2013).
OFT: The OFT has launched a study into the 'quick house sale' market and is calling for people who have used, or considered using, these businesses to contact the OFT about their experiences. Comments should be sent by 16 May 2013.
Quick house sale providers offer to buy a house or find a third party buyer very quickly, usually at a discount from the full market value.  While providers may offer a valuable service, the OFT is concerned that some practices might lead to homeowners receiving much less for their property than it is worth.  Any losses could be very high. 
MoJ: A new consultation sets out proposals for fee remissions (Waivers) for courts & tribunals which are ‘better targeted, fairer for the taxpayer and easy for users to understand’

The remission system will continue to ensure access to justice is maintained for people on lower incomes who would otherwise have difficulty paying a fee, by providing the service free of charge or at a reduced rate. Consultation closes on 16 May 2013.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DWPEmployers who ignore Britain’s growing older population could suffer skills shortages and lose an important competitive edge, according to a new government guide.  

'Employing older workers’, published by the DWP, warns that Britain is running out of workers. There are 13.5m job vacancies which need to be filled over the next 10 years, but only 7m young people are projected to leave school & college over that time.
DfE: Advice helping schools decide how to pay their teachers was last week published by the Department for Education. The advice is being sent to all schools in England, alongside a revised version of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document that reflects reforms to teachers’ pay.
Schools will, from 1 September 2013, be able to link teachers’ pay to performance allowing them to pay good teachers more.  This follows recommendations from the independent School Teachers’ Review Body, which last year called on the government to link teachers’ pay more closely to their performance.
DefraAssistance dogs entering the UK must meet the rules of the EU Pet Travel Scheme. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that his or her assistance dog is fully compliant with the scheme.  Any assistance dog that does not comply with the rules may not be able to enter Great Britain, or may be licensed into quarantine on arrival. 
FSA: The Food Standards Agency provides help for officers to develop their knowledge through training tools, professional courses and funding for local authority-led work.  

For officers currently looking at their development plans, the Agency has added 2 new tools to the Enforcement section of the website;
* the Regulators’ Development Needs Analysis (RDNA) self-assessment tool
* Guidance for Regulators – Information Point (GRIP)
DH: More victims of human trafficking will be identified thanks to new training & advice. The new tools are designed to make it easier for NHS staff to spot and give help to people who have been illegally trafficked and are available to healthcare workers across the country.

Annual Reports

PC&PE: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is critical of the lack of time for human rights scrutiny of Government legislation and calls for changes to improve the system in its Legislative Scrutiny Update.
ScotGov: More small businesses than ever before are securing public contracts through Public Contracts Scotland (PCS), the national advertising portal, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed last week. PCS figures (in its annual report) show that 80% of 13,308 suppliers awarded contracts through the online portal in 2012 were based in Scotland.
NAO: The Cabinet Office’s Efficiency & Reform Group (ERG) has helped departments make significant savings, according to a report by the National Audit Office.  Overall, the NAO has confidence in the £5.5bn of savings in 2011-12 attributed to the influence of ERG.  However, there has not been enough focus so far on the sustainability of savings.
The report does point out that savings to date have differing degrees of sustainability.  The level of savings from commercial negotiation with major suppliers and from the advertising moratorium was lower than that in 2010-11.  Similarly, some of the 2011-12 savings are unlikely to be sustained.
CSPL: The Committee on Standards in Public Lifehas recently published its Annual plan setting out the issues it will be looking at in the year ahead.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has announced it will be introducing bigger, more expert inspection teams that will spend longer in hospitals talking to people.  These will be led by a Chief Inspector who will also oversee performance ratings. 
In launching its plans for the next 3 years, the CQC has emphasised that its role is to be firmly on the side of patients and people who use services.   It has also promised to publish better information for the public, helping them to easily find and understand its reports on care services – this will include ratings of services.

General Reports and Other Publications

ScotGovScotland’s Balance Sheet - a detailed assessment of Scotland’s public finances which shows that ‘Scotland is in a stronger financial position that the UK’ - has been published.

 It provides detailed estimates of Scottish public spending, taxation, annual fiscal balance and share of UK net debt, based on two scenarios for allocating Scotland a notional share of UK debt following a vote for independence.
PC&PE: The major construction firms that established & funded a systematic blacklist of construction industry workers appear to be continuing to avoid taking full responsibility for their actions, says the Scottish Affairs Committee in an interim report. 

The Committee says that while the blacklist was not initially illegal, it was always morally indefensible, and the companies involved continued to use it after it had become illegal.
NIA: A Report published last week by the Public Accounts Committee has highlighted that, while the vast majority of services provided by Health and Social Care Trusts are of a very high quality, patients & service users can suffer largely preventable harm & suffering.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee has published a report which, on the basis of evidence from the DCMS, the Home Office, LOCOG, the MoD, G4S, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Cabinet Office, examined the staging of the Games and plans for delivering the legacy.
ESRCPeople with depression often feel their life is out of control.  It can evoke feelings that their life is pointless or by merely existing bad things can happen.

 Research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) suggests that these feeling may be caused by subtle changes in the way depressed people perceive time and process their surroundings.

Legislation / Legal

Defra: A ban on using wild animals in travelling circuses in England is now a significant step closer after the draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was introduced in Parliament last week.  Under the proposals all travelling circuses in England must stop using wild animal acts by December 2015.
HO: The Home Office was successful in defending Immgiration Rules changes introduced to test migrants English language capabilities. The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Mrs Saiqa Bibi and Mrs Saffana Abdulla Mohammed Ali in their Judicial Review challenging the lawfulness of part of the family Immigration Rules.
Ofcom:  Ofcom has fined TalkTalk £750,000 for making an excessive number of abandoned & silent calls to potential customers in 2011, through two of its call centre operators. This follows an investigation as part of Ofcom’s monitoring & enforcement programme aimed at reducing harm caused by abandoned & silent calls.
HO: The Home Office supported a conference held last week (on National Stalking Awareness Day) to help frontline practitioners get to grips with 2 new stalking offences

It comes after the law was changed in November to make stalking a specific crime in England & Wales for the first time. The new legislation is part of a range of government action to help victims, including funding the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to operate the National Stalking Helpline.
ScotGov: A new bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament recently could see Scotland adopt a new tax to replace UK Landfill Tax and tackle illegal waste disposal while bringing benefits to community and environmental groups.  The Landfill Tax (Scotland) Bill will see Scotland take responsibility from the UK Government for administering landfill tax. 
If passed, the Bill will help tackle the problem of unauthorised dumping activity and encourage the proper disposal & recycling of materials. The Bill also introduces a Scottish Communities Fund which will support environmental organisations and provide assistance to communities living in close proximity to landfill sites. 
This announcement comes on the same day the Scottish Government launched its Resource Efficient Scotland programme to bring together expertise on managing energy, water & materials costs into a single service for the first time.
ScotGov: 3 & 4 year old children in Scotland will be entitled to 600 hours of funded early learning & childcare through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, published recently. 

The Bill proposes a range of measures, which also include:
* Looked after 2 year olds & those with a kinship care order will receive the same entitlement as 3 & 4 year olds
* A named person for every child & young person from birth to safeguard & support their wellbeing, working with other bodies as required

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

DECCCCS developers have been issued Government guidance on applying for European NER 300 funding. The European Commission launched its second call for CCS proposals at the beginning on 3 April 2013. This guidance sets out that the Government will support the 2 preferred bidders and 2 reserve bidders in our £1bn CCS competition.
Press release & links

EU News: The 2014 European Parliament elections should be held from 22 - 25 May 2014, instead of 5-8 June, says a draft decision backed with an overwhelming majority by the Constitutional Affairs Committee last week.  This will give the new Parliament more time to prepare for the election of the European Commission President in July 2014.
IS:  The European Commission published its proposals to reform the existing EU insolvency Regulationin December 2012.  Business Minister Jo Swinson has announced that the UK Government has exercised its right under the EU Treaty to and will participate fully in negotiations & implementation of the Regulation in its final form.
EU News: The information booklet ‘The EU rights of victims of trafficking in human beings’ published last week by the European Commission provides an overview of the rights & supports, derived from EU law, that are available to victims of human trafficking.  These rights range from emergency assistance & health care to labour rights, access to justice and the possibility of compensation.
EU News: Changes voted by Parliament last Tuesday will cap banker's bonuses to curb speculative risk-taking, step up capital provisions to help banks cope better with crises and stiffen supervision.  The new rules must be formally approved by the Council of Ministers to apply from 1 January 2014.
EU News: Launched last month, the co-ordinated EU-wide testing for horsemeat DNA & phenylbutazone requested, and co-financed, by the European Commission in the wake of the horsemeat scandal has revealed that less than 5% of the tested products had horse DNA and that about 0.5% of the equine carcasses tested were found to be contaminated with bute.
EU News: The European Commission has recently proposed an amendment to existing accounting legislation in order to improve the transparency of certain large companies on social & environmental matters.  

Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks & results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors.
EU News: The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the proposed UK video games tax relief.  The objective of the measure is to provide an incentive to video games developers to produce games meeting certain cultural criteria.  However, the Commission considers that there is no obvious market failure in this dynamic & growing sector and that such games are produced even without state aid.
Consequently, at this stage, the Commission doubts that the aid is necessary.  The opening of an in-depth investigation does not prejudge its outcome.  It gives the UK and other interested parties the opportunity to comment.
EU News: The EU Parliament has refused to approve the Council of Ministers' 2011 accounts in a vote last Wednesday, citing a ‘lack of cooperation’. Other EU institutions & agencies were granted budget management discharges (approval) for 2011.

Parliament also recommended moving the EU Police College from the UK to the Netherlands, to enable it to share facilities & services with the Hague-based European Police Office.
EU NewsMEPs voted last Tuesday against freezing auctions of a portion of CO2 emission quotas, so as to boost the price of EU ‘polluter's permits’.  A majority felt that interfering with the supply of credits would undermine confidence in the Emissions Trading System (ETS), designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In a separate vote, MEPs agreed to temporarily exclude intercontinental flights from the scheme.
EU News: On 17 & 18 April 2013, the EU Member States anti-terrorist police forces united as part of the European sponsored ATLAS Network, which ‘carries out the most complex preparation & crises response simulation so far at European level’.  The simulation involved simultaneous terrorist attacks in 9 different EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Romania).
The ATLAS Network contributes to increasing the proficiency & expertise of special intervention units, by establishing common platforms for training & tactics, sharing equipment, and by establishing close cooperation in trans-border areas of Member States, in turn benefiting the public security.
EU News: Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, has welcomed the agreement on amendments to the Priority Substances in Water Directive, heralding it as an important development in the bid to improve water quality in Europe.
The Directive controls emissions, losses & discharges of so-called ‘priority substances’ to water by establishing environmental quality standards (EQSs) for them in water & requiring monitoring programmes. 

The substances concerned include chemicals, certain metals, biocides, plant protection products and dioxins.   For substances classified as priority hazardous substances, the legislation requires their use to be phased out.
EU News: Last week in Brussels, EU member states agreed on the setting up of a new EU single supervisor for banks.  This followed a key breakthrough in Ministerial talks at the Ecofin informal meeting in Dublin on 12-13 April.
The formal agreement was accompanied by a political declaration reaffirming Member States’ commitment to the urgent completion of banking union and noting that a proposal for Treaty Change will be ‘considered constructively, to ring-fence & strengthen the governance and accountability of the separate supervisory function of the ECB’.
Press release & links ~ EU News:  The countdown to a UK referendum has begun as EC outlines timetable for proposed Treaty Changes

Charity and Voluntary Sector

MoD: A Scouts & Guides building in North Yorkshire is one of the first 6 successful bids for funding to come from the Community Covenant Grant Scheme, which was established to support the Community Covenant and to fund local projects that bring together the civilian and Armed Forces communities.
ScotGov: Scotland’s young people can look forward to more support to start their own business thanks to a £1.65m funding pot. Finance Secretary John Swinney, revealed the Scottish Government’s continued support to The Prince’s Trust’s Youth Business Scotland programme last week at a young people’s enterprise event held with ‘Power of Youth’ and RBS in Edinburgh.
DH: The 21 voluntary sector organisations that will be part of the new Health & Care Voluntary Sector Strategic Partner Programme for 2013/14 have been announced at the Department of Health.  

The VSSPP provides a way for policy makers to reach hundreds of thousands of voluntary & community sector organisations through the extensive depth & reach of the partners’ networks.  This helps to ensure that the voice of small voluntary & community sector organisations are in direct contact with national bodies at the heart of decision making.

Business and Other Briefings

BIS: The UK military list of items that require an export licence issued by the Export Control Organisation.
BIS: Hundreds of firms will benefit from more consistent enforcement of regulation & clearer advice on how to comply with the law under new plans to extend the Primary Authority scheme

Following a consultation with business and regulators, Business & Energy Minister Michael Fallon has confirmed that the government will legislate to extend Primary Authority to the following sectors:
* the age-restricted sale of gambling
* the Housing Health & Safety Rating System
* sunbed tanning
* Welsh regulations on single use carrier bag charging
ScotGov: The construction industry in Scotland is to ‘benefit from an initiative to speed up payments to contractors in public sector developments’. Project bank accounts are ring-fenced accounts from which payments can be made directly & simultaneously by a client to the main contractor and members of the supply chain, removing the scope for delays in payment from the main contractor’s bank account.
The system, which should be in place later this year, will speed up available funds to all contractors with electronic payments typically taking 5 days.
HMRC: While the majority of UK taxpayers pay the tax they owe, a small minority are intent on ignoring their legal responsibility to register all their business activity and pay the tax due on it.   

The briefing ‘Tackling the hidden economy’ explains how HMRC tackle those who don’t register all their business activity and work within what they call the ‘hidden economy’.
BRDO: Business Minister Michael Fallon has invited national regulators & local authorities to bid to a new fund that will enable them to pioneer more business-friendly enforcement of regulation.  

The Regulatory Innovation for Growth programme will provide up to £20k per project to support innovative new ways of enforcing regulation.  Proposals must be based on closer working relationships with businesses, helping firms comply with essential requirements without burdening them with bureaucracy.
As advised in RCB 30/12, gives details of Stamp Duty Land Tax treatment following a recent tax tribunal decision.
This Brief confirms the VAT treatment of supplies made by pensions consultants to employers in light of changes following the RDR.

Industry News

BIS: The Government & industry have pledged long-term partnership to support the domestic aerospace sector.   The aerospace industrial strategy sets out how the sector will continue to grow in the face of increasing global competition and to exploit rapid changes in technology.  

£2bn in funding will be provided by government and the aerospace industry over a 7 year period
 and help secure around 115,000 jobs.
IPPR: Britain now has the 5th most competitive automotive industry in the world, with the sector providing around one in 40 of all UK jobs, according to a new report published recently by the think tank IPPR.  

But with two-thirds of the world economy now covered by low emissions standards, the report shows that demand for electric vehicles in the UK has fallen behind most other European countries and the US, despite the fact that 30 branded electric vehicles are scheduled to be available to consumers by 2014.
Britain could miss out on opportunities for jobs, economic growth and exports to an expanding global market, if it does not support its own domestic market in switching to electric vehicles. Ultra low emission vehicles could bring down motoring costs over time, particularly for organisations buying large fleets of vehicles.  The government has the opportunity to lead in this area.
The report shows that a business or public sector owner could save £3,755 over a 4 year period by switching from a petrol fuelled Ford Focus Zetec S to an electric Nissan LEAF.  The employee driving the vehicle could save £5,197 in fuel savings & tax benefits.

Forthcoming Event

CIPD: Increasing public scrutiny over the level of executive remuneration both in the private & public sectors has left many reward & HR professionals with the challenge of balancing public & investor interest with the need to create sustainable reward strategies that engage & develop high performing talent whilst protecting organisational values.  

The CIPD’s annual Reward Conference, which takes place on 23 May 2013 in London’s Cavendish Conference Centre, will examine this challenge as well as other topical issues.
A central tenet of the conference will be to evaluate the relationship between employee performance, reward and long term organisation success. The conference will also include sessions on how to effectively manage reward and performance, simplifying reward strategies and aligning reward with engagement.

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