In the News
DfE: Five years ago I couldn’t even spell the word ‘Engineer’, now I are one - Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss, has claimed that a ‘rigorous new spelling, grammar & punctuation test would raise standards for all children’. The new test – made up of a 45-minute grammar test and a separate 15-minute spelling test of 20 words – was taken for the first time last week, by around 600,000 11-year-olds.
Children have been tested on whether they can:
* spell some of the most commonly misspelt words – including separate, preferred & necessary
* punctuate sentences properly – including the use of colons, ellipses and apostrophes
* use grammar correctly – including the use of subordinate clauses and a range of connectives
Statistics for writing in 2012 showed that:
* almost 100,000 7-year-olds were below the expected level (17%)
* about 125,000 11-year-olds were below the expected level (23%)
The Department for Education has already made changes so that from this summer there will be marks awarded for spelling, punctuation & grammar in key subjects at GCSE.
Unite: Social mobility is an essential element of a evolving democratic society - 'Charities should stop exploiting unpaid interns and pay them the national minimum wage, otherwise working for voluntary organisations will become the preserve of a wealthy elite’.
This call came last week in a new report called: Interns in the voluntary sector – time to end exploitation from Unite, the union, and Intern Aware, an organisation campaigning for fair, paid internships and against exploitation.
Unite research found that more than a third of the top 50 charity employers in England & Wales did not pay their interns (based on Charity Commission data from 2013). Unite said that charities should follow the example of such ‘good’ employers as Clinks, a support group for offenders & their families; the Methodist church; and the National Housing Federation which paid a proper rate for the job for interns.
The report calls for interns to be paid the national minimum wage, currently £6.19 an hour for those over 21; and the re-introduction of paid entry level jobs to expand the social diversity of job applicants. The report said: “Unpaid internships in the third sector breeds elitism, and only provides guaranteed access to jobs for those who can afford to work for free for anything from three to 12 months. ….. the sector …… runs the risk of becoming a sector reserved for those from wealthy backgrounds.”
TKF: Integrate or collapse? - Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund has responded to Care & Support Minister, Norman Lamb’s, announcement on joined up health & social care:
EU News: A key element of integrated services - Prizes have been awarded to eHealth SMEs from Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and United Kingdom as part of eHealth Week 2013 in Dublin, Ireland.
The winners of the 2nd EU SME eHealth Competition came up with innovations in areas such as:
* improving cognitive behavioural therapy for mental care
* improving physiological monitoring
* people facing emergencies
The UK-based winner in the ‘Champion category’ was UK Preventive Medicine for; The Prevention Plan - A Comprehensive Care Co-Production System.
Cebr: It sounds like an easy choice - The UK’s GDP could be up to 5% higher if our infrastructure matched that of our overseas competitors. That is the headline finding of a report (Securing Our Economy: The Case For Infrastructure) identifying the impact new infrastructure has on the wider economy from leading business analysts the Centre for Economic & Business Research on behalf of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA).
STFC: Apple for Student rather than Teacher - The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory is asking Year 9 students to tell them their answers! In the 2013 School Science Prize, students must write 500 words on ‘Why I love Science’. A selected group of finalists will be invited to an evening event at the Daresbury Laboratory on 11 July 2013 where they will be required to speak for 2 minutes and answer questions on the same topic.
The overall winner will receive an Apple iPad as their prize. This year there is a special category for the ‘innovative entry’ who will win an Asus Fonepad (brand new to market), kindly donated by Intel, one of STFC's partners. The closing date for entries is Friday 7 June 2013.
EU Balance of Competence Review(s): Where should the balance of power(s) be? - The government has published calls for evidence on the balance of competence between the UK and the EU on:
* Civil judicial cooperation (including family matters)
* Culture, sport & tourism sectors
* Free Movement of Persons
See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
Enterprise Search Whitepaper: Speedier, More Accurate Results and Bye-Bye to Bandwidth Bottlenecks! - Widespread use of enterprise collaboration platforms such as Huddle and SharePoint across all UK Government and public sector organisations provides for effective and efficient management and collaboration of large documents, reports etc.
However, when it comes to the retrieval of these, the search process is much less efficient – to validate that the search has found the right document it will have to be downloaded and then read to confirm its accuracy. The negative effect of this entirely avoidable process is two-fold as it takes up increasingly valuable staff-time and resource, as well as creating additional costs due to spiralling bandwidth requirements.
A recently produced paper explains how the most recent advances in enterprise search technology can deliver proven efficiencies and tangible public sector savings by reducing bandwidth usage by as much as 90% and resource/staff-time required by up to a third.
Simply click here on the link below to receive your free copy.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
CBI: The UK economy will continue to grow throughout this year, with GDP growth expected to pick up in 2014, according to the CBI’s latest economic forecast. But while recent economic data have been more promising, clear challenges remain both at home & abroad, the UK’s leading business group warned. The CBI is forecasting GDP growth of 1% in 2013 and 2% in 2014
ScotGov: A further 660 insulin pumps will be available for people with type 1 diabetes in Scotland as part of a £3m investment announced recently. The funding will be used to purchase the small medical devices that attach to a person’s body and administer the correct amount of insulin needed, removing the need for insulin injections and making the condition easier to manage.
The moves come as ScotGov has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that 25% of under-18s with type 1 diabetes have access to the pumps.
UKOC: Although it’s still a few months away, at UK online centres HQ, they are starting to make plans for Get online week 2013 (14 – 20 October 2013) - and they need your help!
This year, they want the theme of their campaign to mean as much to potential learners as possible - so they are asking you for your ideas. They are looking for a great tagline that tells everyone exactly how brilliant the internet can be and encourages them to get online this Get online week!
WAG: Natural Resources Minister, Alun Davies, has set out which communities across Wales will be protected by an additional £10m investment in flood & coastal defences.
DfT: A tunnel on the proposed route of Britain’s High Speed 2 rail network could be extended to enable plans for a major development next to East Midlands Airport to progress, it was announced last week.
TfL: Applications for the Apprentice Oyster photocard opened last week on the Transport for London website. The concession, available to all apprentices over 18, living in London and in the first year of an approved apprenticeship course, will allow apprentices to get 30% off adult rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes.
The concession is expected to benefit around 40,000 apprentices per year and could save them up to £660 a year on the cost of an annual Travelcard. It is part of the Mayor of London's on-going campaign to boost employment opportunities for young Londoners.
ScotGov: New Ambulance Technicians are set to start work across Scotland following a £6.8m investment. The increase of 150 staff is to allow a change in working hours that ensures ambulance workers get planned rest breaks in their shift, but are still able to attend emergency calls when required. All of the Scottish Ambulance Service 2,685 front line posts have now moved to the new system.
HEFCE: Some of England’s leading universities will benefit from a £50m investment in cutting-edge research & innovation projects to drive growth. 16 schemes at institutions across the country have been allocated a share of the money from Higher Education Funding Council England’s Catalyst Fund, to work with businesses & support the UK’s economic recovery.
NIA: The Assembly's Employment and Learning Committee has welcomed a move to officially integrate the Open University into Northern Ireland's higher education system. The move came as funding for the OU transferred from Westminster to the Department of Employment & Learning which already funds the other Northern Ireland based universities.
Some 4,500 local students currently study over 5,000 modules using flexible distance learning techniques. The cost of completing an OU degree comes in at between £4,200 & £5,700.
HO: The Home Office’s first same day visa service has launched in Delhi & Mumbai. The super priority visa service, which was announced by the PM on his recent visit to India, has been designed with frequent & valued business travellers in mind.
The Smart Water Systems project has recently released a short video on a new electronic device which monitors usage of hand pumps throughout Kenya. Handpumps provide a vital source of safe drinking water for many rural communities across Africa, but the construction of the pump is only the first hurdle in providing fresh, clean water.
Maintenance is crucial and around one third can be out of action at any one time. Communities often have no means of contacting a skilled mechanic, but the device is able to monitor the amount of water being withdrawn and when a handpump stops transmitting evidence of usage the project workers in Nairobi can assume it is out of action and thus send out an engineer.
Unite: Health professionals, including health visitors, paramedics and school nurses, could be paying up to £1,200-a-year for their own public indemnity insurance, if they wish to work, under government proposals. Unite, the union, which represents 100,000 members in the health service, said that as women make up 70% of the NHS workforce, the proposals ‘smack of inequality’.
Unite said that “Our members increasingly tell us that employers are refusing to provide them with cover and are insisting that they take out their own at their own cost. Consequently, our members are finding themselves in a position of not being fully covered. We do not agree that it should be the responsibility of healthcare professionals to have to demonstrate that they have an indemnity arrangement in place as part of their registration.”
ScotGov: Scotland’s international cricket team are urging more people from Scotland’s South Asian communities to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Latest figures show that only just over 1% of Scots registered are from black, asian & minority ethnic backgrounds. Yet those from these communities are 3 to 4 times more likely to need a kidney transplant due to being more prone to developing diabetes or high blood pressure.
As a result they are also likely to wait nearly twice as long as a white person for a kidney to become available as donated organs need to be carefully matched to ensure blood & tissue groups are compatible. The likelihood of a close match being found & the transplant being successful is increased if the patient is from the same ethnic group.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DH: Homeless people are to receive better help once they leave hospital thanks to £10m funding, Public Health Minister Anna Soubry announced last week. It is estimated that currently 70% of homeless people are discharged from hospital back onto the street without their health & housing problems being properly addressed.
The funding pot will support voluntary organisations to work with the NHS & local authorities to create services to ensure that homeless people receive the best possible support & care after leaving hospital. The funding will also be used to ensure better intermediate care is available after discharge - vital for recovering from health problems such as TB.
DfE: The Education Funding Agency has announced 46 schools (in 5 batches) are to be rebuilt using private finance under the next steps of the Priority School Building Programme. These schools have a total funding requirement of approximately £700m.
ScotGov: An extra £2m has been injected into Scotland’s Students Awards Agency (SAAS) to improve delivery of the ‘best ever package of student support in the UK’. The move follows an independent review carried out by David Wallace of the Student Loans Company which was commissioned by the Education Secretary Michael Russell in November 2012 in recognition of the fact that there were issues at SAAS that needed to be addressed.
ScotGov: A young voter registration form that will give young people the right to have their say on the opportunity of independence for Scotland has been endorsed after independent testing. The form was developed by the Scottish Government to enable eligible 15-year-olds to register for the forthcoming vote on independence, as part of the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill. Those already 16 or 17 will be registered through the standard annual canvas form.
WAG: The Welsh Government is to create a further 146 projects that support families in some of Wales’ most deprived areas. The new Flying Start facilities will allow parents access to the help & support they need to cope with the pressures of poverty. The extension is being supported with £19m of extra capital funding that will provide a boost for construction jobs.
Flying Start gives eligible parents free part-time childcare for 2-3 year olds, parenting support, an enhanced health visitor service and help for early language development. It supports families to look after their children’s health & well being, working in partnership with primary & community healthcare.
ScotGov: The Healthy Start scheme provides vitamin supplements to low income families, in addition to vouchers towards the cost of milk, fruit & vegetables. Previously, vitamins were distributed through NHS Boards. However, the average uptake of the scheme as a whole across Scotland was only 71%, with the uptake of vitamin supplements being significantly lower.
In a drive to ensure that everyone who needs these vitamins receives them, community pharmacies will now be able to give eligible women and children Healthy Start vitamins directly. The 1,246 community pharmacies and around 120 dispensing practices across Scotland have been asked to join the one year pilot.
CLG: Eric Pickles has welcomed news that more than a quarter of the government’s target 120,000 troubled families are already being worked with. He said the figures showed that ‘councils are on course to meet the Prime Minister’s target of having children back in school, cutting youth crime and anti-social behaviour and putting parents on a path back to work by 2015’.
DWP: The Government is acting to protect consumers by announcing a 2-pronged plan to tackle high & inappropriate pension charges. Its first action will be to ban consultancy charges in automatic enrolment schemes.
The Government also plans to publish a consultation this autumn, in light of a forthcoming OFT report on the workplace pensions market. This consultation will set out proposals including a cap on default fund charges in Defined Contribution schemes. Legislation in the Pensions Bill published last week will ‘enable the Government to take targeted & effective action’.
The Government is also publishing an updated impact assessment on the single-tier pension, and its response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s report on the single-tier provisions in the draft Bill.
CLG: Communities Minister Don Foster has announced a cash boost of up to £1m to support single homeless people. The funding will help them to find a safe & secure roof in privately rented accommodation. Mr Foster allocated up to £800,000 for homelessness charity Crisis to fund schemes to set up new shared tenancies for single homeless people in privately rented accommodation.
The minister also announced a further £230,000 for the charity to continue its Private Rented Sector Access Programme, which works with local landlords to help vulnerable people find the homes they need in privately rented accommodation.
DWP: Research from an independent consortium led by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University covers the impact of recent Housing Benefit reform in the private rented sector. The research looks at the attitudes of claimants and landlords in 19 areas across Great Britain following Housing Benefit reforms that started in April 2011.
CLG: Unique & creative ideas to teach English in a fun & friendly way have been submitted to the Department for Communities and Local Government, as organisations compete for a share of a £6m fund to turn these ideas into reality & help people achieve their full potential. 14 of the best competition entries from across the country have been awarded with a development support grant of £6,000 each to help them prepare for the second stage of the competition.
To further encourage people to learn English the department has also published guidance to councils to stop translating documents into foreign languages, as this encourages segregation & undermines community cohesion. Instead, the focus should be on ensuring that people can learn to speak English and this competition is one way of helping communities to achieve this.
ScotGov: All eligible couples across Scotland will now be guaranteed fair, reliable & faster access to IVF treatment. The guarantee comes as the National Infertility Group publishes a report with recommendations on new IVF criteria.
Ministers have agreed the Group’s recommendations and the changes will come into force on 1 July 2013. The new criteria will unify NHS IVF services in Scotland and reduce current inequity of services & waiting times to 12 months by 31 March 2015.
DfE: The government has unveiled a new package of support to help local authorities attract and retain more foster carers from a wider range of backgrounds.
DWP: The Universal Credit direct payment demonstration projects will be extended for a further 6 months, Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud announced last week, when new findings from the projects were published showing a rise in the rent collection rate to an average of 94%.
The extension will help to further develop the support needed for social housing tenants moving onto Universal Credit. The projects will now run until the end of the year.
Monitor: Health sector regulator Monitor and NHS England are working together to reform the way NHS services are paid for. Hospitals are currently paid through the Payment by Results system, which has been in operation for nearly a decade and has delivered benefits.
However feedback from the health sector is that the current system is not sufficiently patient focused, not always based on good quality information, and can act as a barrier to delivering integrated care.
The two organisations are publishing a joint discussion paper (responses by Friday 19 July 2013), which asks for views on the future of the payment system, and a call for evidence (by 10 June 2013) on the way hospitals are reimbursed for some emergency admissions.
The discussion paper also sets out possible improvements and presents early thinking on setting objectives and designing the NHS payment system.
HMRC: A HMRC consultation considers changes to VAT zero-rating of exports where goods are supplied to UK VAT registered customers established in countries other than the UK. A further change will be made to amend an outdated reference to Excise law.
The purpose of this consultation is to consider whether the proposed changes to VAT law achieve the intended result, and to understand the impact of the changes on affected businesses. Consultation closes on 5 July 2013.
DECC: Views are sought on the site selection process elements of the UK’s on-going Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme, and the Government has issued a call for evidence (responses required by 10 June 2013).
This forms part of the on-going ‘lessons learned’ exercise following the conclusion of west Cumbrian involvement in the existing site-selection process. Responses to the call for evidence will inform a public consultation later in the year.
DECC has also separately published the consultation response & guidance on the regulatory justification process for the re-use of plutonium. The guidance sets out the process for submitting applications for the re-use of plutonium, and outlines the regulatory decision-making process. This guidance supplements the existing regulations.
TfL: With London's population set to boom, plans are underway for a vital new rail line, Crossrail 2, in order to support this future growth. Transport for London (TfL) and Network Rail have launched a public consultation on the proposed routes. The consultation will seek the views of people in London and the southeast of England and will close on 2 August 2013.
HMT: The government has launched a consultation on allowing the transfer of existing savings from Child Trust Fund accounts into Junior ISAs. There are proposals within the consultation that look at whether the government should provide scope for further intervention at a later date, if necessary.
This, for example would work to address any risks to the long-term viability of the Child Trust Fund. One option for further intervention being kept under review is the merging of Child Trust Funds into Junior ISA. Consultation closes on 6 August 2013.
Monitor: Monitor is seeking the views of local people on its findings in relation to the conduct of Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust (Cornwall PCT) following a complaint by an independent sector provider. The closing date for submissions is 28 May 2013 and Monitor will publish its final report on the case on 21 June 2013.
DfT: The government has published a call for evidence on the balance of competence between the UK & the EU on transport. The Department for Transport is seeking views from individuals & groups with an interest or experience in transport policy and its application on how the competence is used and what that means for Britain.
The public call for evidence on transport will close on 6 August 2013. Following the call for evidence, a report on the current balance of competence on transport and what this means for the national interest will be published by the end of the year.
MoJ: Lawyers, business groups & the public are all being asked to submit their views on the balance of competences between the UK & the EU on civil judicial cooperation (including family matters). Anyone wishing to contribute should submit their evidence before midday on 5 August 2013. A report on the outcome of the review will be published in December 2013.
DCMS: A call for evidence from the culture, sport & tourism sectors to investigate the UK’s relationship with the EU was launched last week. It aims to provide the culture, tourism & sport sectors with an opportunity for people from across the spectrum to have their say on what the EU means for them, and help inform our understanding of how EU powers affect these sectors.
Anyone wishing to contribute should submit their evidence before midday on 5 August 2013. A report on the outcome of the review will be published in December 2013.
DWP: The Government has launched a call for evidence on the balance of powers between the UK and the EU on the Free Movement of Persons, 1 of the ‘4 Freedoms’ of the EU Internal Market. The Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions are seeking views on how the powers are used, and what that means for Britain.
Anyone wishing to contribute should submit their evidence before midday on 5 August 2013. A report on the outcome of the review will be published in summer 2013.
DfT: The first phase of HS2, the planned high speed railway between London, the West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds moved another step forward last week with the launch of consultations (both closing on 11 July 2013) on the project’s draft Environmental statement (ES) and proposed design refinement:
* The draft ES sets out HS2 Ltd’s current thinking on plans to integrate the line into the landscape using the very latest design & construction methods, both during building & operation
* The design refinement consultation is an opportunity to comment on the most significant proposed changes to the design of phase one of the scheme between London and Birmingham
FRC: Melanie McLaren, Executive Director of Codes & Standards for the Financial Reporting Council has commented on the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) endeavours to improve lease accounting.
The FRC is interested in hearing the views of UK constituents on whether the IASB’s exposure draft provides the optimal solution, particularly with regard to whether the benefits of the proposed standard would outweigh its costs. Press release & links
MoJ: New national standards to raise the quality of experts used in family courts and get rid of time-consuming evidence which adds little value in helping judges reach a decision were announced by the Government last week.
Under the new plans experts who are well-qualified & experienced will continue to provide their valuable service in advising the family courts – but the so-called experts who provide evidence which is simply not up to scratch will be driven out.
The Government has been working to bring down the average time taken for care cases to be concluded to 26 weeks (from 45), to reduce the impact on children involved. The consultation closes on 18 July 2013.
ScotGov: Before & during sporting events at next year’s Commonwealth Games, anyone involved in unauthorised trading or advertising will be liable to have merchandise seized or be fined up to £20,000 upon conviction.
The Scottish Government’s consultation sets out proposals for the controls, detailed maps of the event zones affected and the period of proposed restrictions. Consultation closes on 7 August 2013.
Additional Consultations: Readers should be aware that many consultations are never publicised with a press release, so do not appear in either the email alerts or Wired - GOV Plus. Many of these consultations can be found at the following links:
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DH: Public Health England (PHE) is reminding people to be ‘tick aware’ this summer by launching new leaflets advising the public on how to prevent tick bites and the risk of contracting Lyme disease.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures and are found in woodlands, parks & gardens. They are most prevalent in late spring, summer & autumn. PHE is asking the public to be mindful of getting bitten as we increasingly venture outdoors over the coming months.
WAG: Regeneration Minister, Carl Sargeant has published guidance for applicants seeking a share of up to £90m that will be available over the next 3 years from the Welsh Government’s new regeneration framework,
Vibrant and Viable Places, which includes a range of activities to reverse economic, social & physical decline in town centres, coastal communities and Communities First clusters.
DECC: DECC has published the consultation response & guidance on the regulatory justification process for the re-use of plutonium – See ‘Consultation’ section for more information.
CLG: To encourage people to learn English the department has published guidance to councils to stop translating documents into foreign languages, as this encourages segregation & undermines community cohesion – See ‘Policy Statements & Initiatives’ section for more information.
CEOP: In 2012/2013, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre safeguarded & protected 790 children – an increase of 85% on the previous year, and the highest yearly figure since the Centre launched in 2006. It now brings the total number of protected children to 2,255 in its 7-year history.
Figures in its Annual Review & Centre Plan also reveal that CEOP dealt with 18,887 reports of abuse from the public & industry - a 14% increase on the previous year with an average of 1,600 reports per month.
However, the Centre has warned that new trends in child sexual offending, and the growing availability of high-speed internet around the globe is likely to increase the threat to children.
Ofsted: Following the recent inspections of 28 schools in Norfolk in March 2013, Ofsted has written to Norfolk County Council to advise it of the findings. The focused inspections are part of a concerted programme of action by Ofsted to establish why children in some parts of the country have a much lower chance of attending a good or better school than their peers in other similar areas.
PC&PE: The Committee of Public Accounts has published its 1st Report of this Session; Ministry of Defence - Equipment Plan 2012– 2022 and Major Projects Report 2012.
The report welcomes the steps the Department has taken in setting out the affordability of its Equipment Plan. The Department has made a good start, but the deep seated problems cannot be fixed overnight.
In particular, there are ‘concerns about over-optimistic assumptions, the completeness & robustness of support cost estimates and risks to capability mean that we cannot yet have confidence that the Equipment Plan is affordable’.
DH: The Dementia Challenge champion groups have produced a report on their progress since the challenge was launched in March 2012. The report describes achievements in the 3 main areas of the challenge: driving improvements in health & care, creating dementia friendly communities and better research.
Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has also announced that NHS England has set a national ambition to improve dementia diagnosis rates. The plans aim to see two-thirds of people with dementia identified & given appropriate support by 2015, an increase from 39% in 2010 and the current average of about 45%.
DECC: The UK and Scottish Governments have published a report which considers the evidence base for developing renewables projects on the Scottish Islands.
The report – Scottish Islands Renewables Project - shows that while there are significant potential benefits to developing renewables on the Scottish Islands, there are also considerable costs that need to be overcome.
CO: The second annual update on the government’s programme of public services reform has been published. It includes:
* the government’s response to David Boyle’s review into barriers to choice in public services
* 3 further Choice Frameworks
* a new Choice Charter
DH: A PHE trend analysis report has shown that children from deprived areas are almost twice as likely to be obese than those in affluent areas.
WAG: Health Minister Mark Drakeford has given a clear message to NHS managers to take action in response to the recent NHS Wales staff survey. Only 19% of staff felt senior management within their organisation would act on the results of the survey.
Ofcom: A new Ofcom study into the problem of nuisance calls reveals the extent to which they are affecting UK consumers.
General Reports and Other Publications
NO: East Council misled the public on a planning application to change the use of some agricultural land. A report by the Local Government Ombudsman has upheld a complaint that the council withheld important information to the public during the consultation period – but later made it available on its website and backdated it.
The Ombudsman has recommended the council take professional advice on what options are now available in relation to the granted application – and consider revoking the approval if it is an option.
NO: Shropshire Council failed to offer effective support for a man who was providing 24 hour care for his wife. The Local Government Ombudsman, in a report issued recently, has recommended that the council apologise to the couple for not properly considering their needs, and make a payment of over £60,000.
IPCC: The Independent Police Complaints Commission has published its response to the Home Secretary’s proposal to transfer resources from individual police forces to the IPCC to allow it to expand its work & undertake more independent investigations.
The IPCC’s response focuses on 2 areas: more independent investigations in serious & sensitive cases and greater oversight of the complaints system. It also sets out 5 key principles for its work
NAO: The BBC relocated to Salford on time & maintained broadcast continuity, according to a report published by the National Audit Office for the BBC Trust. Moreover, the latest estimates show that the final cost of the move phase should be below the £233m budget approved by the BBC Trust.
However, it is too early to judge the long-term impact & value for money of the move for licence fee payers.
TUC: The Pensions Commission has given the UK the opportunity to build a new progressive pensions consensus, but contribution levels need to increase and structures need to work more in the interest of consumers so that they receive adequate retirement outcomes, according to a new TUC report (The TUC Touchstone Extra pamphlet Third Time Lucky).
CO: Deloitte were commissioned by BIS to undertake an independent assessment of the market for public sector information (PSI), as part of the ‘Shakespeare Review of Public Sector Information’. The report looks at the value of information collected by public sector organisations and how this information could be further utilised.
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment recently called for further action to ensure the safe & effective disposal of used tyres in its final report on its Inquiry into Used Tyre Disposal. This is following interim recommendations that the Committee published last year on the disposal of used tyres.
Ofcom: Ofcom has published a report outlining the availability of different communications services across the UK, examining how coverage varies between areas and might be improved. The report looks at access to seven services: fixed voice telephony, fixed broadband, mobile voice telephony, mobile broadband, digital television, radio and post.
HL: Last year, the Government made a change to the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) – the level of Housing Benefit that applies to single people in the private rented sector – that placed restrictions on claimants under the age of 35. Homeless Link’s report, Nowhere To Move, examines data taken from 55,537 property listings in London to assess the impact of this change.
AC: The Airports Commission has published Airport Operational Models the fourth in a series of discussion papers to build the evidence base to inform its assessment of the UK’s airport capacity needs.
The paper considers the distinguishing features of a hub or ‘focal’ airport and what enables an airport to assume this role, alongside other possible models for structuring airport capacity. It discusses current trends in the global aviation sector, how they might develop in the future, and considers the potential implications for aviation capacity and connectivity in the UK.
Legislation / Legal
PC&PE: The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has endorsed draft laws to extend dangerous dogs offences to attacks on private property and on assistance dogs. But the MPs criticise the Government for failing to bring in wider measures, including Dog Control Notices, to tackle out-of-control dogs.
HO: Government response to the report on the operation in 2012 of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011
CLG: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is throwing his support behind Local Newspaper Week with a new law that will enshrine free press and help independent local newspapers thrive.
In a letter to the Newspaper Society, praising them for their campaign to highlight the contribution of the local newspaper industry, Mr Pickles says that when “local news flourishes, local democracy succeeds” and so he will be stopping councils from publishing regular “Pravda-style” free-sheets which, threaten local newspapers and waste taxpayers’ money printing up “town hall propaganda”.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
EU News: The European Commission has adopted an Action Plan to revitalise the marine & maritime economy in the Atlantic Ocean Area. The Action Plan follows from the Atlantic Strategy the Commission adopted in 2011.
It aims to show how the EU's Atlantic Member States, their regions and the Commission can help create sustainable growth in coastal regions and drive forward the ‘blue economy’, which has the potential to provide 7m jobs in Europe by 2020.
EU News: The European Commission has carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in & providing services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors. These inspections took place in 2 EU Member States and in 1 European Economic Area (EEA) Member State.
The Commission has concerns that ‘the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a Price Reporting Agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products’. Furthermore, the Commission has concerns that the companies may have prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting published prices’. There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct.
ICO: An independent survey commissioned by the Information Commissioner’s Office has found a clear lack of understanding across business around the proposed EU data reforms.
That uncertainty extends to businesses’ estimated cost expenditure on meeting their data protection responsibilities under the any new law, bringing into question the data on costs found in existing evidence, for instance figures produced by the European Commission and Ministry of Justice.
EU News: The European Commission has launched its Emergency Response Centre (ERC), which will provide a better coordinated, faster & more efficient European response to disasters in Europe & the world. It will be operational on a 24/7 basis, capable of dealing with up to 3 simultaneous emergencies in different time zones.
EU News: The European Commission recently adopted 2 regulations to promote the roll-out of 'intelligent information services', such as real-time warnings about dangerous road conditions ahead and information on safe & secure parking places for truck drivers.
They can be provided through different means such as variable road signs, the radio and mobile phone applications. The Commission wants these information services to be interoperable & compatible across Europe, and available to as many drivers as possible along the trans-European road network.
EA: Testing got underway of England’s bathing waters last week to improve water quality and protect England’s £3.6bn seaside tourist economy. As the official 2013 bathing season begins, the Environment Agency is asking local authorities, homeowners & farmers to do more to improve bathing waters across the country.
Last year’s results showed that 93% of England’s bathing waters met the current European water quality standards. But Environment Agency analysis suggests that 10% (around 55) of England’s beaches could be at risk of failing new, tighter standards that come into force in 2015.
EU News: Specifications for a new generation of digital tachographs for trucks & buses were agreed informally by Irish presidency & Parliament negotiators on last week. Innovations include devices that can read on-board recording devices from a distance, will make it easier to enforce driving and rest times.
Under the draft rules, smart tachographs would be fitted to new vehicles within 3 years once the Commission has set out the technical specifications, so to put an end to fraud & tampering and ensure that rules apply fairly & equally to all trucks over 3.5 tonnes on EU roads. Within 15 years, they would have to be fitted, or retrofitted, to all EU-registered trucks and buses in international transport.
EU News: A high level of health protection; the right to benefit from medical treatment; access to healthcare - preventive, diagnostic & curative treatment regardless of financial means, gender or nationality. These principles are enshrined in the European Union's Treaty and its Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU institutions are bound to them in their actions.
With European Patients' Rights Day being celebrated last week (16 May 2013) the press release takes a look at the benefits to patients of being a citizen of the EU.
Also from 25 October 2013, a National Contact Point in each Member State will provide information to patients on their rights to healthcare across Europe. Patients will have access to information on the quality & safety of the care they will receive in order to make informed decisions.
EU News: Prizes have been awarded to eHealth SMEs as part of eHealth Week 2013 in Dublin, Ireland. The UK-based winner in the ‘Champion category’ was UK Preventive Medicine for; The Prevention Plan - A Comprehensive Care Co-Production System – See ‘In the News’ section for more information
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), as part of its commitment to help charity Go ON UK eliminate the digital divide, is announcing an investment of up to £15m to build the skills that people & organisations across the UK will need in order to take full advantage of support & services available online.
There are 16m people in the UK who currently lack the basic online skills to confidently make full use of digital tools available to them and 7.4m people who have never been online.
BIG’s programme, which is still under development, will be open for applications in the autumn and BIG expects to fund a very small number of UK-wide projects focussing on communities most in need. BIG is announcing the programme now to give potential applicants the time to consider the sort of partnerships that they will need to be put in place to meet the challenge of raising digital skills across the UK.
10DS: Foster carer Maria Catterick, who's cared for 26 children over 9 years in Stockton, is the latest PM’s Big Society Award winner. Maria Catterick has been recognised for her dedicated and selfless support to young people, and for the individual attention and love that she shows to each child in her care.
Gaining first-hand insight into the impacts of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through fostering, Maria has worked to raise awareness of the condition by creating FASD Network, a support group made up of a cooperative of families affected by this disability all are advocating for awareness and change.
BIG: Vital frontline advice services across England are sharing in a £m support package as the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) announces 226 awards made under the Advice Services Transition Fund. The Cabinet Office is supporting BIG’s programme by contributing half of the funding.
The awards build on BIG’s historic role in funding the advice sector and comes as a direct & timely response to the challenging circumstances advice providers and those dependent on their services are facing. The funding aims to help address that immediate need, but will also help strengthen organisations for the demands that lay ahead.
BIG: Up to £8m of Lottery money is to be spent on supporting people affected by domestic abuse across Scotland through the Big Lottery Fund Scotland’s Becoming a Survivor scheme.
Opening to applications last week, BAS will make grants from £10k to £1m to help support people affected by domestic abuse & survivors of domestic abuse to be in a home of their choice and help them to move on with their lives both practically & emotionally.
CAB: Latest estimates from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are that £1.6bn is lost through claimant errors and £0.7bn through official errors in the benefits system. Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice has responded to these figures, saying ……. “Government needs to focus on ensuring tailored face to face & online support is available so people get their claims right first time round and aren’t caught in a blizzard of benefit changes”. ……..
CAB: Research from Citizens Advice has found that 65% of people who take out a payday loan do not get asked questions to establish if they can afford to pay back the loan, as the Consumer Finance Association admits affordability checks are critical.
AUK: New polling by Age UK has revealed that 93% of older people who own a concessionary bus pass say losing it would adversely affect their life. The survey also found that 83% of older people on lower incomes had a concessionary pass.
The poll findings mark the launch of a new Age UK report ('Missed Opportunities, The Impact On Older People Of Cuts To Rural Bus Services') which shows that older people in rural parts of England risk being stranded & isolated at home because of bus service cuts.
CO: The Centre for Social Impact Bonds in the Cabinet Office has launched 2 new tools to support the development social impact bonds:
* the Social Impact Bond Knowledge Box
* a template SIB service agreement contract
WAG: A review into services that provide people with free advice on issues such as debt, housing, employment and welfare benefits has been published by the Welsh Government.
Ministers commissioned the review of not-for-profit advice services, such as those provided by the likes of Citizens Advice Bureau, in light of the unprecedented pressures faced by such organisations given the reduction in their funding, alongside the rising demand for advice in the current economic climate.
Unite: Charities should stop exploiting unpaid interns and pay them the national minimum wage, otherwise working for voluntary organisations will become the preserve of a wealthy elite’.
This call came last week in a new report called: Interns in the voluntary sector – time to end exploitation from Unite, the union, and Intern Aware, an organisation campaigning for fair, paid internships and against exploitation – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Business and Other Briefings
10DS: In his second report to the PM, Growing your Business: A report on Growing Micro Businesses, the PM’s enterprise adviser, Lord Young, highlights the increasing importance that micro businesses (which have less than 10 employee) have on the, success of the economy.
Making up 95% of all businesses, he identifies steps the Government can take to help them develop their confidence & capability to grow.
HMRC: HM Revenue & Customs has launched a video on YouTube aimed at helping small businesses with income tax. It is the first in a series of short videos that will provide an overview of two optional schemes, Cash Basis and Simplified Expenses.
WAG: Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, has launched the next phase of a project aimed at helping businesses in West Wales and the Valleys become more sustainable & support the low carbon economy.
The WISE Network is a collaborative project between Aberystwyth, Bangor & Swansea universities that enables businesses across the region to take full advantage of the growth in the green economy.
WAG: The second round of the Business Rates Scheme is now open for applications with more than £4m available in the current financial year. The Enterprise Zone Business Rates Scheme is a discretionary grant scheme for SMEs within the 7 Welsh Enterprise Zones. The scheme will help to lower businesses’ operating costs by providing a grant to offset their Business Rates for up to three years.
Defra: UK businesses and the public are being asked to send ideas on how environmental rules & regulations can be made more straightforward. Businesses could save more than £1bn over 10 years if environmental guidance were easier to find and follow, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said last week.
Dstl: The next generation battery technology company, OXIS Energy Ltd has delivered the second phase of a research programme that it’s working on in collaboration with Lincad Ltd to improve its Lithium Sulfur batteries.
The project is part of a wider Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) research programme which is looking to develop significantly lighter & safer batteries for UK armed forces.
ScotGov: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opened the £15.6m, four-turbine Neilston Community Wind Farm last week. The people of Neilston bought a 28% share in the wind farm with their partners Carbon Free Developments. They raised £950,000 in cash to buy their stake, which was loaned in part to them by the Scottish Government and other organisations.
The arrangement will give the village of Neilston around £10m of income over the life-time of the wind farm, supporting the village’s sustainable development & empowering residents to make improvements locally.
STFC: Nuclear physicists at the ISOLDE radioactive-beam facility at CERN, including a number from the universities of York and Manchester, have for the first time measured the radioactive properties of astatine, the rarest element on earth.
This new study fills a long-standing gap in the periodic table; astatine, atomic number 85, is the last element present in nature for which this fundamental property remained unknown. The element is of particular interest because isotopes of astatine are candidates for the creation of radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment by targeted alpha therapy.
This research, co-funded by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) could help chemists to develop applications for astatine in radiotherapy, as well as developing theories that predict the structure of super-heavy elements.
ScotGov: First Minister Alex Salmond recently opened Europe’s first world-class electricity grid research centre. The centre will examine how advanced technologies can shape the low-carbon power industry of the future.
The £12.5m Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Cumbernauld has been established in response to growing demand for secure, reliable & environmentally-friendly power, and uses a mini electricity grid system, not connected to the national network to test new technology.
Press release & links
UKOC: Do you use Community How To? Have you helped others use it to get more done, more easily in their organisation? Then you might just be a superuser...
On 29 May 2013 UK Online Centres are bringing together a group of advocates, superusers & general fans of the websiteto discuss its future development. They want to hear how you've been using the website, how you've been sharing it with others and what you'd like to see in the future.
There are very limited places available on this date so please email if you're interested, along with a short paragraph on what organisation you're from & why you'd like to take part.
LSIS: The Learning and Skills improvement Service is funding 2 FREE workshops to explore how Apprenticeship providers & supported employment providers can work together to significantly increase the number of disabled learners enrolling on programmes.
Provided in collaboration with Remploy Employment Services, the UK’s leading provider of specialist employment support for disabled & disadvantaged people, the workshops will tackle the issues that may deter employers and colleges from recruiting disabled people to Apprenticeships.
The workshops are taking place on 20 May in Leicester and 23 May 2013 in Newcastle. They follow 3 highly successful workshops held earlier in 2013 in London, Birmingham and Oldham that were fully booked.
Despite their popularity & importance these workshops will not continue to be funded by LSIS because of their closure on 31 July 2013, but Remploy is now looking at offering the workshops for a small charge per delegate.
As a result of the workshops Remploy are planning to host a national ‘Disabled Apprentices Conference’ in September 2013.
TfL: Londoners are being encouraged to register now for Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle which takes place on 3 August 2013.
The 8-mile traffic-free ride through the Capital is open to all ages & abilities, and takes participants past some of the city's most famous landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of London.
To help you get into central London and join the fun there will be led rides from London boroughs feeding into the freecycle route. Return rides are scheduled for later in the day.
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