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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

PC&PE:  It is not up to RUK to clarify how Scotland will ‘manage’ - With just over 16 months to go before the Scottish referendum there are still significant gaps in the Scottish Government's proposed foreign policy, according to a report published by the Foreign Affairs Committee.  There is an urgent need for clarity & candour on the international challenges an independent Scotland would face

There has not been enough analysis on what sort of overseas diplomatic network and external security & intelligence provision Scotland would have to set up.  There needs to be a more realistic assessment of the extent to which Scotland could expect the rest of the UK (RUK) to co-operate with, and support it, on security & intelligence.

A number of policies seem to be underpinned by a belief that where problems emerge, goodwill for Scotland will trump difficulties.  But there is a pressing need for official legal advice on a wide range of international legal issues including EU accession, EU opt-outs and membership of international organisations.
Press release & links ~ Reuters: Scotland ‘new state’ outside EU, UN if splits ~ Scotland, independence & the EU - Commons Library Standard Note ~ CH: Scottish Independence - A Diminished Foreign Policy for the UK? ~ Would Holyrood pay for independence in euros? ~ CH: The Foreign Policy Implications of and for a Separate Scotland ~ Independent-Scotland-and-International-Law-R-Churchill ~ SCDI: Future Scotland – Europe & international ~ Professor James Crawford Provides Opinion on the International Law Aspects of the Referendum on the Independence of Scotland ~ Could an Independent Scotland Operate a Diplomatic Network? ~ Breaking up is hard to do: Many legal unknowns would follow Scottish independence ~ Implications of a 'Yes' Vote for Scotland ~ PC&PE:  Still many questions to be answered before voters can make an informed choice, rather than emotional choice (4th item)

PC&PE:  Let us not forget the Coalition blame Labour for ‘just spending with no real return’ - The Public Accounts Committee has published its 42nd Report of this Session which examined planning for economic infrastructure

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: 
“Investment in infrastructure is crucial for stimulating economic growth.  However, the Treasury’s Infrastructure Plan is simply a long list of projects requiring huge amounts of money, not a real plan with a strategic vision and clear priorities.

The Treasury maintains that it has prioritized 40 projects and programmes, but in reality the list details more than 200 individual projects said to be ‘priorities’.  Most of the £310bn of investment needed will come from the private sector, with households shouldering the cost through higher energy bills and fares. ……

The Government needs to urgently assess the impact on consumers and how this can be contained. ….. Given the difficulty in raising private finance, the government may have to use taxpayers’ money to attract investors through direct grants, guaranteed incomes or agreeing to bear certain risks”.
Press release & links ~ Report: HM Treasury: Planning for economic infrastructure ~ CBI comments on Public Accounts Committee infrastructure report ~ Government 'dithering' over energy & climate policy could cost jobs & investment, says TUC ~ £59 million fund to accelerate Enterprise Zone growth ~ Government launches new guide to infrastructure delivery ~ NAO: Planning for Economic Infrastructure ~ CBI comments on NAO infrastructure report - urging more action to boost private investment ~ CBI: An Offer They Shouldn’t Refuse: Attracting Investment to UK Infrastructure ~ North needed to heal national finances ~ Infrastructure Bill gets Royal Assent ~ Welsh Infrastructure Projects could benefit from £40 billion Investment Pot ~ Government uses fiscal credibility to unveil new infrastructure investment and exports plan ~ ‘Shovel ready’ projects now urgent - First Minister ~ HMT:  Building our way to a more prosperous future (2nd item)

CBIThis ‘saga’ is longer than the ‘Lord of the Rings’ - The CBI has responded to the recent London Assembly report, Airport Capacity in London.  The report suggests existing capacity, including at Heathrow, Luton, Stansted & Gatwick airports, could be used more effectively.  And it calls on the independent Airports Commission to rule out the expansion of Heathrow, when it makes its interim report later this year and final report in 2015.
NHS ConfedBig Bang approach often just leads to bigger problems - Targeted alliances, time-limited partnerships and collaborative working can produce better joint working outcomes than formal organisational mergers, according to a new NHS Confederation report. 

With the combination of current system pressures possibly heralding a wave of organisations joining forces, Healthcare groups: an alternative to merger-mania? says that historically, the health service has a
'poor track record' of mergers successfully delivering their stated objectives.

It asks if the NHS would gain from more providers establishing 'healthcare groups' - formally agreeing to work jointly on an area of shared interest - rather than risking the pitfalls that can accompany formal mergers, which can include reduced staff morale and falls in productivity. 
The paper includes a unique model of collaboration options which independent health consultancy Finnamore has produced from its own experience working with health providers.  The matrix sets out the 'trade off' required for various models of joint working, plotting the potential organisational upheaval against the likely benefits of collaboration.
Press release & links ~ Healthcare groups: an alternative to merger-mania? ~ Hospitals Forum and how it supports members ~ TKF: NHS merger decisions - what's the evidence? ~ NT: Mergers in the NHS - Made in heaven or marriages of convenience? ~ OFT publishes further details on its role in reviewing NHS mergers ~ BMJ: Process & impact of mergers of NHS trusts - multi-centre case study & management cost analysis ~ Editor’s ‘find’ illustrating complication of mergers ~ Monitor Briefing sheet: Mergers involving NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts ~ Can governments do it better? Merger mania and hospital outcomes in the English NHS ~ NHS hospital mergers: what benefits? ~ All Pain and No Gain? A Study of Mergers of NHS Trusts in London ~ A Case Study of Employee Retention post-merger in the NHS

NOIf the NHS won't acknowledge its mistakes AND learn from them, then perhaps we must start to think the unthinkable  - A 2012-13 analysis of the main reasons why patients, their families & carers brought their complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman after their hospital has failed to deal with it include; poor explanations, no acknowledgement of mistakes, inadequate financial remedy and unnecessary delays.

The Ombudsman’s report (The NHS hospital complaints system.  A case for urgent treatment?), comes in the wake of the report by Robert Francis QC on the appalling failings at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust (published in February 2013).  The Francis report said: “It the Board did not listen sufficiently to its patients or its staff or ensure the correction of deficiencies brought to the Trust’s attention”.

Far from Mid Staffordshire being an isolated case, the Ombudsman’s report shows ‘systemic problems with NHS Hospitals’ failing to listen and learn from patients’.  It gives insight into the problem using the organisation’s unique perspective as the service people turn to when hospitals have failed to handle their complaint properly.  
EU News:  More Grist to the UKIP Mill? - The European Commission has recently proposed measures to ensure the better application of EU law on people's right to work in another Member State and so make it easier for people to exercise their rights in practice.
Press release & links ~ Immigrants to EU countries less likely to live on benefits ~ BBC: Switzerland to limit immigration from all EU states ~ UK Border Agency: European Nationals ~ Migration Watch UK

UKASEconomic Benefits of Accreditation Valued at More Than £600m a Year - A new report ‘The Economics of Accreditation’ commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has assessed the economic benefits derived from the certification, measurement and inspection services accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service.  Researchers from Birkbeck, University of London, surveyed a selection of businesses and other independent analysis to create the report, concluding that accreditation contributes more than £600 million to the UK economy each year.
UKAS accreditation is increasingly being used by Government departments and agencies to deliver policy in such diverse areas as environmental management, health and safety, food safety, climate change, forensic science and DNA testing. This report confirms that accreditation is providing a valuable service to business and government alike.

Click here to download a summary of the main findings and a copy of the full report from the UKAS web site.

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

General News

CAB: High street banks should offer personal micro-loans ‘as a more responsible option for short term credit to stop people falling foul of unscrupulous payday lenders or turning to loan sharks for money’, says Citizens Advice.
The charity said banks should accept some responsibility for the growth of the payday loan market and have an opportunity to right past wrongs by offering an inventive, low-interest & responsible solution to the need for short term credit. CAB has seen a 10-fold increase in payday loans over the last 4 years as people use them to make up a shortfall in income or to cope with unexpected expenses.
MoD: A new iPhone app has been launched to provide serving Armed Forces personnel with mental health support & information.  The app, called Joining Forces, is available to personnel all over the world and provides tailored information on 11 mental health problems including anxiety, post-traumatic stress & depression, as well as highlighting where to access help.
TUCA jobs guarantee for young people, spreading the living wage across the public & private sectors, putting communities not profits at the heart of public services, and creating a stronger voice for workers in the management of companies are among the TUC's 5 key campaign priorities in the run up to the general election, according to its campaign plan ('A Future That Works') published last week.
NHS ConfedNHS Confederation chief executive, Mike Farrar, has welcomed the publication of Dame Fiona Caldicott's updated review of information governance. The best practice & recommendations in the report ‘set out a wise approach to protecting & sharing confidential information which will benefit patients and allow the health service to what it can and should do, when, and with what’.
TfL: Whether you are looking for a new & relaxing way to commute or want to make the most of your leisure time, the newly published spring & summer guide to London River Services will be an invaluable companion.   It also contains details of River Tours services - which offer a whole range of leisure activities including dinner cruises, sightseeing cruises, or more exhilarating trips on the fastest boats on the Thames.
ScotGovScotland’s state-of-the-art bull stud is open for business – providing a valuable service for crofters as well as showcasing some modern farm developments. The £3m transformation of the stud – which provides a bull hire scheme for crofters - has seen the outdated & inadequate farm buildings demolished and replaced with a new office, quarantine building, main bull housing building, GP building and new silage clamp.
Monitor: Monitor has authorised Kingston Hospital NHS Trust as a foundation trust, effective from 1 May 2013.  This is the first foundation trust to be established under the regulator’s new powers to promote & protect patient’s interests.  Monitor will regulate the Trust on its ability to be a well-led organisation that provides patients with quality care on a sustainable basis.
DECC: Following a successful competition last year as part of the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme, DECC is launching 2 further competitions for registered providers of social housing, to bid for funds to install renewable heating technologies in their housing stock.
TNAThe National Archives are at the top of the class for educational visits after being awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge for the third time in a row.
HEFCE: A review of TRAC (the activity-costing method used by UK universities & colleges) has found strong support for the method across the sector, but suggests some important improvements to streamline the process and save money.
Higher Education Funding Council England has agreed with Research Councils UK a change to dispensation compliance requirements.  From 2013-14 the threshold at which higher education institutions (HEIs) will be eligible to claim dispensation from the need to comply with the full TRAC requirements will increase from £0.5m to £3m. This change will allow up to 60 institutions to benefit from reduced compliance requirements.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has told St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust to make improvements at St George’s Hospital following an unannounced inspection at which it failed to meet 6 of the national standards

The majority of patients spoken with said that they were happy with the care they were receiving, but some were less satisfied.  Inspectors saw many instances of good care, but also saw examples of poor care.
TfLBikeSafe-London is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, a decade of helping motorcyclists improve their knowledge, skills & experience to make them better, safer riders. Since April 2003, more than 26,000 motorcyclists have attended a BikeSafe-London Rider Skills Day.
TfL: Londoners now have the opportunity to help name the last 2 tunnelling machines that will bore below the Capital to create Crossrail. They will bore from Pudding Mill Lane, near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Stratford, creating 2.7km of tunnels to Stepney Green.
IfL: The new Centre for Research & Development in Lifelong Education (CRADLE), established in partnership with the Institute for Learning (IfL) and chaired by Professor Denis Gleeson, aims to provide more & new kinds of research for practitioners & policymakers, providing evidence-based and authoritative resources for the FE & skills sector, including the teaching of vocational education.  IfL’s members from across the diverse sector will help inform CRADLE’s research priorities.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: An innovative scheme which aims to help children combat their fear of being in hospital is to be rolled out in children’s hospitals across Scotland. The Hospital Passport scheme was developed by psychologists at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow (Yorkhill) and has been piloted in a number of wards in the hospital.
Children can use the passport around the hospital collecting a variety of stickers & stamps as they go through various treatments, or ‘travel’ to different departments. It aims to make children feel more at ease and more involved in their treatment and care.
FCO: UK Foreign & Defence Secretaries have welcomed France’s Defence White Paper, which sets out its vision for French Armed Forces.
ScotGovAll babies in Scotland born on or after 1 May 2013 will be offered vaccination against rotavirus. Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea & vomiting in babies & young children, and can lead to dehydration that requires hospital treatment.
The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine follows a recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination & Immunisation. The vaccine will be part of the routine childhood immunisation programme and mainly given in GP surgeries.
DCMS:  In a speech to the tourism sector Culture Secretary Maria Miller recently outlined plans for Britain’s aim to welcome 40m overseas visitors per year, spending £31.5bn, by 2020. 

The strategy, produced by national tourism agency Visit Britain, will unite government and the travel industry with key public & private sector bodies in a long-term ambition for growth by supporting an extra 200,000 jobs across the country.
HMT: Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has strongly welcomed news that all British Overseas Territories with significant financial centres have signed up to the government’s strategy on global tax transparency, marking a turning point in the fight against tax evasion & illicit finance.
WAG: A £400m funding boost to increase the supply of housing in Wales will help realise the Welsh Government’s ambitious plans to deliver 7,500 new affordable homes by 2016, Finance Minister Jane Hutt announced recently.


ICO: The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has announced that it’s time to ‘shine a light’ on private investigators to remove any criminal elements that ‘breach the Data Protection Act and tarnish the industry’s reputation’.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has written a letter to private investigations firms, public authorities who use these services, and the police to examine the extent of the problem.  The ICO is also urging members of the public who have evidence of private investigators breaching the Act to get in touch.
Anyone who believes they have information about criminal elements with the private investigations sector should contact the ICO office.  All of the information provided can be submitted anonymously if required.  The ICO has published guidance which explains the protection available to whistle blowers who report breaches of the law by their employers.  This is an on-going project so no fixed closure date yet.
ScotGov: The public vote to decide the name of the new Forth Replacement Crossing started last week. After receiving over 7,600 suggestions from the public, an independent panel has agreed a shortlist of 5 names. Members of the public can now vote for their favourite via the dedicated website, SMS texting or by requesting a postal vote.  The website includes full details on the voting process.
Voting will run until 7 June 2013, with the most popular choice being formally announced towards the end of the month.  The structure remains on schedule to open in 2016.
ScotGovScotland’s planning system will place more emphasis on jobs & economic benefits to help deliver sustainable economic growth, Planning Minister Derek Mackay announced last week. The third National Planning Framework (NPF3) and draft Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) will influence development plans across Scotland and guide future planning decisions on a range of sectors including transport, energy and infrastructure.
A series of public events will be held around the country in coming months, giving people the chance to have their say on the proposed changes. It is expected that following consultation (closing on 23 July 2013), the SPP will be finalised by the end of 2013, with NPF3 being adopted by 2014.
NICENICE's support for hospitals wanting to adopt innovative new technologies has been given a boost as it takes on the work of the NHS Technology Adoption Centre (NTAC) in May 2013.
With funding from NHS England, the new Health Technologies Adoption Programme (HTAP) at NICE will provide a more systematic approach to the adoption by the NHS of new technologies such as diagnostic & monitoring devices, surgical implants and other technologies that improve the care given to patients.
EU News: The European Commission has launched the third & final public consultation in its review of the state aid criteria it uses to assess Member States' support schemes for films and other audiovisual works.  The criteria are set out in a draft Communication, on which the Commission invites comments by 28 May 2013.  The final Communication is due to be adopted by the Commission in July 2013.

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DfE: The Department for Education has published advice helping schools decide how to pay their teachers. The advice is being sent to all schools in England, alongside a revised version of the School Teachers’ Pay & 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.
By this September every school will need to have revised its pay & appraisal policies setting out how pay progression will in future be linked to a teacher’s performance.  The first performance-linked pay increases will be made from September 2014.
UKOCUK online centres have just launched a brand new online course with a little help from the government's Money Advice Service, funded by Comic Relief. The new course helps older people get to grips with modern money matters. In just 30 minutes it covers everything from basic budgeting to benefit entitlements, savings & investments to spending safely online.
UKOC: Last week, Universal Credit went live for the first time in the Pathfinder area.  If you support people to improve their computer & internet skills, Universal Credit is so important as it's the first ever benefit to be built as ‘digital by default’, which means the vast majority of claimants will need to make & manage their claims online, which will need a higher level of digital skills.
This is why UK Online Centres has developed the Online Plus package of courses, which will help learners become confident internet users, with all of the skills needed to use online services. To help you prepare for Universal Credit the Department for Work and Pensions have created the Universal Credit toolkit.
LSIS: The Learning & Skills Improvement Service has announced that the latest National Occupational Standards (NOS) for family learning & personal tutoring are now available for use by stakeholders, employers & practitioners. 
Also during 2012, Personal Tutoring National Occupational Standards were developed to provide statements of skills & knowledge needed by the Personal Tutoring workforce.
FSA: The risk of food poisoning can be reduced by using slaughterhouse decontamination treatments on raw meat.  Consumers have given the Food Standards Agency their views on which treatments they would find acceptable.
DfEAdopters can now see exactly what support is available for them and their child with the new ‘Adoption Passport: a support guide for adopters’.

Annual Reports

PC&PELocal Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are key drivers of strong regional economic growth, says the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee in a Report published recently.  The Report welcomes the Government’s commitment to providing core funding for LEPs for the next 2 financial years, but argues that the timescale is too short to allow LEPs to take long-term investments. 
It urges the Government to provide the certainty & security that LEPs need to drive long-term growth by setting now the levels of their core funding for the 5 years from 2015. 
NO: An independent external evaluation of the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) was published last week.  It confirms that the LGO is independent & accountable; and it provides clear evidence that the public have access to a fair & effective route to redress when they have complaints about local public services and social care providers.
The report makes a number of recommendations about how the LGO can develop further and also calls for a review of the legislative framework that governs the operation of the Ombudsman scheme.
DWP: The percentage of people entitled to Employment & Support Allowance is at its highest level with over half of people completing a Work Capability Assessment eligible for the benefit.  Just under half were found fit for work and will be given help to find a job which is suitable for them.
The new figures show that nearly 3 in 10 people completing a Work Capability Assessment between June & August 2012 were awarded unconditional support through.  This compares to just 1 person in every 10 completing an assessment 3 years ago.
NICELess than 5% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) who are eligible to receive NICE-approved drugs are being offered them, according to new research. Poland & Romania are the only countries in Europe which fare worse in this area. The report also revealed that across England, the NHS has been slow in adopting clinical & cost-effective new MS medicines approved by NICE.
Ofsted: Ofsted has published ‘Not yet good enough’, a report which evaluates the strengths & weaknesses of personal, social, health & economic (PSHE) education and makes recommendations on how the subject can be taught well in English schools.
The report, which was based on evidence from 50 maintained schools and an online survey of 178 young people, found PSHE education was good or better in 60% of schools, but required improvement or was inadequate in 40%.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Constitution Committee has published a report which says that the Government should do more to inform Parliament when ministers propose to take action before Parliament has passed the legislation that would make that action legal.
The Committee says that when ministers want to act in anticipation of legislation, known as ‘pre-empting Parliament’, they should set out what they want to do, why & under what powers in a statement made to Parliament. 

The Committee also says the Government should publish a full list of instances where they pre-empted Parliament at the end of each parliamentary session

General Reports and Other Publications

IoEEmployees' ability to influence decisions at work is one of the most important factors affecting their motivation & psychological well-being.  Yet, first findings from the 2012 Skills & Employment Survey (SES), published recently show a growing sense of disempowerment amongst Britain's workforce.

3 reports have been published:
* Skills at Work in Britain
* Training in Britain
* Job Control in Britain
RUSIIran may inadvertently cross unclear US & Israeli 'red lines' with its nuclear programme and trigger military action, warns a new briefing paper by the Royal United Services Institute. 

Iran: Red Lines and Grey Areas argues it is important that all parties - including Iran - understand where war-triggering 'forceful red lines' are located and concludes that Iran's adversaries have set 'poorly conceptualised' red lines with 'significant ambiguity' resulting in confusion.
RUSI: The UK is approaching a decision point where a significant strategic reorientation of its defence & security towards the Gulf is both plausible & logical; and for the first time since the UK unceremoniously left the Gulf in 1971, a coherent strategy for a 'return to east of Suez' is emerging, according to a new paper from the Royal United Services Institute.
A Return to East of Suez? UK Military Deployment to the Gulf assess public statements which point to the current British government's commitment to deepening the strategic defence relationship in the Gulf and argue the UK is taking on this burden both out of necessity and of desire. The paper highlights the UK's 'return east of Suez' is more evolutionary than revolutionary and only partially related to the US pivot towards the Pacific.
NO: The Local Government Ombudsman has criticised Nottingham City Council for failing to properly safeguard the welfare of 2 children over a 4 year period. The council has been asked to review its policies for handling complex neglect cases involving children as part of the investigation carried out by the Ombudsman.
The LGO has also recommended it compensate the children £5,000 each, reimburse legal expenses of the grandmother, and pay the grandmother £1,000 for the distress caused pursuing the complaint.
IEA: The moral panic being spread about gambling machines is grounded in myth, not evidence. In a close examination of the facts, new research (The Crack Cocaine of Gambling? Gambling machines in the UK) shows the key arguments being put forward to justify increased regulation of these machines are baseless.
UKOC: Academic researchers, policy makers & digital practitioners came together last week for the 5th Social Digital Research Symposium, led by OCF. The symposium is a quarterly research exchange meeting, for those working in digital inclusion research & practice.
The morning session focussed on the landscape of digital inclusion in the UK, who's left behind and how current practice caters for their needs. The afternoon focused on examples of how local practice & research approaches are closing this gap for certain communities.  All presentations can be accessed through ‘slideshare’.
PXThe police could save money and offer a better service to the public by closing out of date police stations and opening more local police offices in shopping centres and other popular public locations. A new report (Rebooting the PC: Using innovation to drive smart policing), by Policy Exchange, urges police chiefs not to put ‘buildings before bobbies’.  
It says that the nature of the emergent financial & social challenges that British society faces over the next decade means the police service needs to become more imaginative in how it interacts with the public.  This should include ‘managing the police estate in a smarter fashion’ by closing out of date police stations.  

The paper highlights the fact that the majority of people hardly ever walk in to a police station to report a crime and that a dramatic decline in front counter use means that some stations see fewer than 7 visitors every day.
Defra: Defra has published information about the actions following discovery of undeclared horse DNA in meat products.

Legislation / Legal

HO: Changes to the family visit visa route will save taxpayers more than £100m over the next decade and speed up the system for genuine applicants, the Immigration Minister said recently. From July 2013, the family visit visa will no longer retain the full right of appeal, bringing the route into line with all other visit visa categories.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office has announced that 3 public authorities will be monitored this quarter over concerns about the timeliness of their responses to freedom of information (FOI) requests.
Under the FOI Act a public authority must respond to an FOI request within 20 working days.  The Metropolitan Police Service, the London Borough of Barnet and Manchester City Council are being monitored after the ICO received a significant number of complaints about each authorities’ failure to respond to requests within the statutory time limit.
WAG:  A new law to strengthen & improve the accountability arrangements of Wales’s public audit service has been granted Royal Assent by Her Majesty the Queen. The Public Audit (Wales) Act 2013 will provide for more open & effective governance of the Auditor General for Wales (AGW) while protecting the AGW’s independence from the Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales.
ScotGovFine enforcement officers in Scotland’s courts are to be granted access to a wealth of information held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and other Whitehall Departments to help them crackdown on fine defaulters.
MoJ: The latest stage of a series of reforms to turn the tide on the growing compensation culture has taken effect. From 1 May 2013 the fees lawyers can make from processing basic, uncontested claims for compensation for minor injuries suffered in road accidents is reduced by more than half – from £1,200 to £500.
The change will:
* make no difference to the amount of compensation victims will receive for genuine claims
* reduce the unnecessary additional bills faced by insurers
* enable insurers to pass on savings to their customers

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The European Commission has recently presented the first Soil Atlas of Africa, highlighting a vital natural resource which provides food, fodder, fuel wood, reduces flood risk and protects water supplies.  

With full colour maps & illustrations, the atlas explains in a simple & clear manner the diversity of soil across the African continent and emphasizes the importance of this non-renewable resource.
EU News: The European Medicines Agency has published recently the initial list of medicines that are subject to additional monitoring.  This represents an important deliverable of the new European pharmacovigilance legislation.  

These medicines will have to display an inverted back triangle in their package leaflet and in the information for healthcare professionals called the summary of product characteristics (SmPC), together with a short sentence explaining what the triangle means.
EU News: The Commission's Task Force for Greece (TFGR) has presented its fourth quarterly report on technical assistance for Greece.
EU News: The European Commission has recently proposed measures to ensure the better application of EU law on people's right to work in another Member State and so make it easier for people to exercise their rights in practice.
EU News: Last week, EU Member States did not reach a qualified majority – either in favour or against - in the Appeal Committee which discussed a Commission proposal to restrict the use of 3 neonicotinoid insecticides.  In absence of an agreement between Member States, it is now for the Commission to decide on the adoption of the proposed restriction.
EU News: Following the recent recommendation by the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC), the Co-ordination Group for Mutual Recognition and Decentralised Procedures – Human (CMDh) has endorsed by majority the PRAC recommendation to suspend the marketing authorisations of tetrazepam-containing medicines across the European Union (EU).
EU News: To boost the development of EU aquaculture, the European Commission has issued strategic guidelines, thereby cooperating with Member States & stakeholders in overcoming the challenges facing the sector.

They do not create new legal obligations, but present a series of voluntary steps that Member States, the Commission and stakeholders can take to promote an industry that is economically, socially & environmentally sustainable and provides consumers with healthy, high-quality seafood.
PC&PE: More of the funds held by institutional investors would be invested in energy projects if there was a clear EU policy about how to deliver secure, affordable & low carbon energy, says the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee for Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy in its report; No Country is an Energy Island: Securing Investment for the EU's Future.
EU News: The Commission has adopted recently a new Regulation establishing governance & incentive mechanisms to facilitate the effective & timely deployment of SESAR, the Union's flagship project that aims at modernising the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system& enhancing its performance.
SESAR consists of a cycle of three interrelated and evolving processes that define, develop and deploy a new concept of ATM operations.  Through this new Regulation the Commission has activated the deployment process that will close the loop of the SESAR lifecycle and enable the project to fully deliver its benefits.
EU News: The European Commission has launched the third & final public consultation in its review of the state aid criteria it uses to assess Member States' support schemes for films and other audiovisual works – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CO: The government’s Behavioural Insights Team took its first step to becoming a profit-making joint venture last week, as the Cabinet Office launched a competition to find a commercial partner for the business.  

Less than 3 years after it was set up in the CO, the team is the first policy unit set to spin off from central government.  This has been employee-led as the staff of the BIT have driven the process and will continue to run the organisation.
BIG: A £4m fund set up to support Scots to celebrate their part in the Commonwealth before, during & after the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games opened recently. Celebrate is a joint scheme originated by the Scottish Lottery Distributor’s Forum (SLDF) offering funding for events & projects which celebrate Glasgow 2014 or that are inspired by Scottish links to the 71 nations & territories which make up the Commonwealth.
ACE: Brighton based charity, Creative Future, has launched a national literary award to ‘discover & celebrate writers from disadvantaged groups’, supported by an Arts Council England Grants for the art award. The winners will receive a cash prize as well as mentoring and will have the opportunity to present their work at an award ceremony in September during the Small Wonder literary festival.
The charity runs 2 other events that promote the work of marginalised & disabled artists & writers in the region.  The Impact Art Fair is the UK's only art fair solely featuring the work of disabled & disadvantaged artists.  The Tight Modern, a miniature replica of the Tate Modern highlights the work of 50 disabled artists.  The Creative Future Literary Awards will be their third flagship event.

Business and Other Briefings

CBI: The CBI has responded to a report by Nesta on peer-to-peer lending to business: Banking on each other.
CIPDChartered Institute of Personnel & Development research reveals a gulf in expectations between young people & employers that is contributing to high levels of youth unemployment. 

There is a clear mismatch between employers’ expectations of young people during the recruitment process and young people’s understanding of what is expected of them.
This is hindering young people’s access to the labour market, contributing to the high rates of youth unemployment (currently almost one in five 16-24 years old is unemployed) and fuelling a ticking time bomb of skills shortages for UK businesses, who may be unwittingly limiting their access to this important & diverse pool of talent.
CIPDSome of the most popular learning and development (L&D) interventions used in the workplace could actually be thwarting innovation.  That’s according to the final report in a series of Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development research insights on HR and its role in innovation.
The report (The innovation imperative) demonstrates how innovation comes in all shapes & sizes but, regardless of a company’s approach to innovation, collaborative forms of learning & systematic approaches to knowledge sharing are the keys to success.
WAG: The Welsh Government is cutting the costs of short term Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) to make them more accessible & cost effective for SMEs. KTP, a UK-wide programme delivered by the Technology Strategy Board and supported by the Welsh Government, links companies with further and higher education institutions.
Recently qualified graduates, who are supported by academic supervisors, are placed with companies to work on specific business projects. The aim is to help businesses improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance through better use of knowledge, technology & skills
ScotGov: Scottish business is backing a new employer assessed work-based qualification to ‘help young people prove they are ready for employment’. The Certificate of Work Readiness has been developed in partnership with the business community and aims to give unemployed young people the chance to demonstrate the value they bring to the workplace.
Piloted by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in a number of areas, the certificate will consist of college-based learning time, as well as 190 hours of real life work experience, and is unique in that it will only be awarded following employer assessment.
HMRC: Over 1m employer PAYE schemes have started to report PAYE in real time since it was launched last month, HMRC announced last week. The new PAYE reporting system, known as Real Time Information (RTI), started on 6 April 2013. Under RTI, employers report PAYE in real time from their first pay day on or after 6 April each time they pay their employees, rather than yearly.

Industry News

Ofcom: Ofcom has recently announced plans for a pilot of innovative ‘white space’ technology in the UK, among the first of its kind in Europe.  The technology uses gaps in radio spectrum, called ‘white spaces’, which exist in between frequency bands.  In this instance, these bands have been reserved for digital terrestrial TV broadcasting and wireless microphones.
Use of these white spaces will allow devices to transmit & receive wireless signals for applications such as broadband access for rural communities, Wi-Fi-like services or new ‘machine-to-machine’ networks. Ofcom is inviting industry to take part in the pilot, which is intended to take place in the autumn. The locations for the trial will be chosen once trial participants have been identified.
Following a successful completion of the pilot, Ofcom anticipates that the technology could be fully rolled out during 2014, enabling the use of white space devices across the country.

Forthcoming Event

FRC: The Financial reporting Council is pleased to provide information about the Audit & Assurance Conference being held in Cambridge 16 - 17May 2013

This conference is organised by the Auditing Special Interest Group (ASIG) of the British Accounting & Finance Association and it offers a unique mix of distinguished speakers and highlights of the latest unpublished academic research on auditing.
DH: The PHE June Conference on 26 June 2013 brings together nurses & midwives to discuss the professions' contributions to improving health. See the conference website for full details and to book your place.
LSIS: It’s now or never if organisations within the FE & Skills sector want to take advantage of events organised by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). LSIS will no longer operate after 31 July 2013 following the cessation of its funding from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills; as a result LSIS’s services will not be available after this date.
A number of LSIS events & workshops will be available until the end of July and organisations are being advised to make the most of any credit remaining in their LSIS Account by ensuring that their account holder makes any bookings as soon as possible.  

Anyone who wants to attend is being advised that they should make their bookings by 31 May 2013.  After this date places can be booked on LSIS events, but only if they are paid by credit card, not using an LSIS Account.

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