In the News
MoJ: Locking them up may be justified ‘retribution’, but it is only a temporary measure which doesn’t address the long-term issues - A dedicated mentoring website linking offenders to high-quality support to get their lives back on track was launched last week. The justmentoring website will, for the first-time, give prisoners or offenders in the community quick & easy access to a range of mentoring services, helping break the depressing cycle of crime many are trapped in.
They will be able to find help to address the root causes of their offending such as drug & alcohol addiction, homelessness, unemployment and mental health issues. Former criminals who have turned their back on crime will also be able to link up with mentoring organisations, where they can volunteer their knowledge & experience to work with current offenders, supporting them to ‘go straight’ from the moment they set foot in the community.
Re-offending rates have barely changed in a decade despite £4bn a year being spent on prisons & probation. More than 58% of prisoners serving less than 12 months go on to commit further crime within a year of release. Justmentoring will be available on the ‘virtual campus’, a highly secure IT system for prisoners to access certain websites to help with issues such as job searches.
Monitor: Monitor ‘doing what it says on the label’ - Peterborough & Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is financially unsustainable in its current form, according to an independent report presented to health sector regulator Monitor. The Contingency Planning Team (CPT) sent in by Monitor to protect the interest of local patients has found the Trust is clinically & operationally sustainable. In the CPT’s opinion clinical quality of patient care is appropriate and, on the whole, within expected performance levels.
Ofsted: Do ‘clever’ children get ignored in class because they can cope, while those less able / more troublesome need / get most of the teacher’s attention? - The Ofsted’s new landmark survey, The most able students: are they doing as well as they should in our non-selective secondary schools?, finds that 'too few maintained schools & academies set high enough expectations of what their brightest students can achieve'.
Ofsted reached its conclusions, having reviewed evidence from a variety of sources, including reports from over 2,000 lessons observed by Inspectors, and visits to 41 non-selective secondary schools across the country. Many students became used to performing at a lower level than they were capable of. Parents or carers and teachers accepted this too readily.
The visits undertaken by HM Inspectors did identify a number of key characteristics shared by those schools that were successfully supporting their most able students. However, too few schools adopted these good practices.
NICE: Nursing care can often fall into the bad habit of ignoring the mobility problems faced by hospital patients - Healthcare professionals should consider patients aged 65 or older, and those aged over 50 with underlying conditions such as stroke, at high risk of falling while in hospital care, according to updated guidelines from NICE. Healthcare professionals should also consider a multi-factorial assessment and multi-factorial intervention for patients at risk of falling in hospital.
These assessments should identify a patient's individual risk factors for falling in hospital that can be treated, improved or managed during their expected stay. Such risk factors may include cognitive impairment, continence problems, a history of falls, postural instability and visual impairment.
Falling is the leading cause of injury-related admissions to hospital in those over 65, and costs the NHS an estimated £2.3bn per year. A number of falls occur in hospitals, with nearly 209,000 reported between 1 October and 30 September 2012. While many who fall only experience minor cuts or bruises, over the past year 90 people died and around 900 experienced hip fractures and head injuries as a result of falls.
PC&PE: Equality for women is so much more than just achieving equal pay - Ending violence against women & girls is the litmus test for whether ‘development’ is working in poor countries such as Afghanistan, say MPs in report by the Commons International Development Committee published last week.
MPs endorse a policy framework put in place by UK government to make action to tackle the scourge of violence against women & girls a key priority for the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in all areas of its work.
The Committee highlights how DFID recently launched a new £35m programmes to address female genital mutilation. “140 million girls & women worldwide have suffered from this harrowing practice, which is usually performed on children by unskilled practitioners with unsterilized instruments and no anaesthetic,” says Sir Malcolm.
DCMS: If history is not to repeat itself, we must keep alive the memories of actions, sacrifices & mistakes we made decades ago - The government has launched a dedicated website & logo for the 4-year programme of remembrance marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War between 2014 & 2018. Latest news about the government plans for commemoration, including information of national events & activities from the cultural programme will feature on the website.
UKOC: And this year’s theme will be! - Last month, UK Online Centres asked for your in help in deciding on the theme for this year’s Get online week campaign. They had lots of great suggestions and now they want your help again - to vote for the best! They have boiled your great ideas down to their 4 favourites, and you can find them - and vote for your favourite - in a very quick online survey.
Press release & linksGartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2013 | 16 – 17 September, London - Engage to Succeed in the Social, Mobile, Digital Enterprise - Join us to modernise what you’ve got, understand what’s ahead, deliver exceptional user experiences and transform your workplace.
The Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2013, will paint a comprehensive picture of what’s changed and what’s ahead, and give you the tools, insights and best practices to deliver exceptional user experiences.
You’ll get pragmatic essentials, such as optimizing SharePoint, deriving business value out of unstructured content and crafting new practices to make social and mobile more secure. You’ll also get big-picture thinking about portal innovations, the strategic role of engagement, as well as help in making customers and constituents want to use social collaboration and in migrating to mobile platforms.
Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
ACE: 10 arts projects that bring together digital technology & research to extend their reach & offering are to receive funding from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts.
The projects are the second cohort to be backed by the £7m fund, which made its first awards to 9 projects in January following a year-long pilot programme. The Fund is open for expressions of interest & applications until 30 December 2013.
GPS: Building on the successful delivery of Civil Service Learning (CSL) to central government departments over the past 12 months, the Government Procurement Service are now extending the contract to the wider public sector, making it accessible to every public sector organisation across the UK.
The contract will replace the Learning & Development (RM464c) framework, which expired on 8 June 2013.
FSA: Last week was Food Safety Week 2013 (10-16 June) and this year the Food Standards Agency want to know: ‘Are you ready to cook safely?’
Most people don’t believe the food they cook at home can make them ill, but in a recent survey, the FSA found that 80% of those questioned carry out one or more behaviours that put them at risk of food poisoning., so they have created the Kitchen Check, a simple tool that helps you find out how safe your kitchen habits are and if they are putting you, or your family and friends, at risk of food poisoning.
DH: An extra 20 dental practices have joined a dental pilot programme to test the new dental contract, Health Minister, Lord Howe, announced recently. There are now 90 dental practices across the country helping to test different elements of the new contract. These sites will look at preventative oral health with a focus on better results for both adults & children.
Ofcom: Ofcom has announced the award of 5 community radio licences for services in Northern Ireland. These will join the 12 community radio stations already operating in NI, which are among more than 200 across the UK.
MoD: Army personnel have joined local authorities & emergency services to see how prepared they are to tackle a major environmental incident. Exercise Triton took place in Staffordshire and was designed to see how the Army worked alongside partners from the area when it comes to emergency planning.
FCO: Medical treatment can cost thousands abroad yet new research by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has found that only 45% of young Brits surveyed check that their insurance covers risky pursuits, despite 82% admitting to taking part in more adventurous behaviour when on holiday.
CBI: The CBI is calling on the Chancellor to take urgent steps to galvanise infrastructure investment in this month’s spending round, warning that failure to act will put the fledgling recovery at risk.
The UK’s leading business group is warning that even less infrastructure could be built in the years ahead, if private investment is stifled by the lack of a project pipeline and government’s slow pace on taking big decisions. It is urging the Chancellor not to repeat the mistakes of the last spending round and further increase infrastructure spending.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: National pay bargaining for college sector staff is to be underpinned by the Post 16 Education (Scotland) Bill later this month. Education Secretary, Michael Russell has highlighted the disparity in pay across the sector and said that ‘measures to support a coherent, national pay structure for college staff should be put in place as soon as possible’.
DWP: The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – a new disability benefit being extended across the country since last week – will ‘better reflect today’s understanding of disability’, says Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey.
It replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working-age claimants, which was introduced over 20 years ago. The new benefit is designed to support disabled people to live independent lives and includes a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews. Claimants can also use the PIP checker to see if or when they may be affected.
DFID: Governments, businesses, scientists & charities made a historic pledge to end under-nutrition in our lifetime at the recent Nutrition for Growth event.
ScotGov: More organisations across Scotland will be open to scrutiny under Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation laid recently in the Scottish Parliament, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced. If agreed by Parliament, arm’s length bodies established by local authorities to provide cultural, sports & leisure services to the public will be subject to FoI law from April 2014.
WAG: Critical care is a speciality which provides support for patients with acute life-threatening injuries & illnesses. Around 9,000 people require such care each year in Wales. Currently, critical care beds are not always used appropriately. For example, not all patients in critical care beds require that level of care, but are awaiting discharge to wards.
The Welsh Government’s Delivery Plan for the Critically ill sets out what is required of Local Health Boards by 2016 to make the best use of critical care beds. It also includes plans to investigate a potential increase in capacity where necessary alongside making better use of existing resources – for example to address an increase in organs donated subject to new legislation being introduced in 2015.
MoD: The proposals to reform single source procurement regulations, set out by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond last week, form part of the government’s Better Defence Acquisition White Paper, which has been published by MOD.
It outlines plans to establish a new, independent body which would oversee contracts that have to be awarded without competition, either because of specialist Armed Forces requirements or national security reasons.
HO: The second phase of the Home Office’s life-saving pre-entry tuberculosis (TB) screening programme has been introduced as part of the new immigration rules laid recently.
The programme means that migrants who want to enter the UK for more than 6 months, from 67 countries with a high incidence of TB, have to be screened before they are granted a visa for the UK. The first phase of pre-entry screening was rolled out to 8 countries, including India, Malaysia and the Philippines, in May 2012, and will now be introduced to a further 11 countries from Monday 1 July 2013.
WAG: Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced changes to the Welsh immunisation programme to ‘protect against preventable diseases and infections during a debate on the measles outbreak’.
ScotGov: A new scheme to recognise schools’ innovation & achievement in delivering school PE & extra-curricular sport will introduced in 3 local authorities this August.
The School Sports Awards will accredit schools that continuously improve PE & school sport and deepen sporting links between the school and the local community. The Awards will be implemented in 3 council areas - North Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Argyll & Bute - with a view to being rolled-out nationally next year.
BIS: A new World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaty which includes new standards for the protection of audiovisual performances has been signed by the UK. The treaty sets out new standards of international protection for actors, dancers, singers & musicians, providing a number of rights including the right to control the broadcasting, copying & distribution of performances.
The treaty builds on earlier agreements that gave similar rights to performers whose performances are only captured in sound.
Defra: Defra has given approval for Rothamsted Research to extend a trial of GM wheat this autumn. The independent Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment (ACRE) concluded that the trial will have no adverse effect on human health or the environment. Defra has set precautionary conditions to ensure that no GM material will enter the food chain.
NO: Julie Mellor, the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman, is urging more carers to come forward and express concerns & complaints about public services if they have had a raw deal.
At the start of Carers Week (10-16 June), which is highlighting the woeful lack of information & support for carers, she is calling for carers to voice their concerns if they are experiencing problems with public services. These could involve treatment by the NHS, difficulties with entitlement to benefits or employment-related issues.
Ofgem: Ofgem has published final proposals that will give independent energy suppliers a more level playing field to compete against their larger rivals. They will also increase competition between the big 6 who, together with the 2 largest independent power generators will be required to trade fairly with small suppliers. Consultation closes on 9 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
HSE: A 5-prong plan for driving down the number of people killed & seriously injured in the waste & recycling industry has been published. The Waste Industry Safety & Health (WISH) Forum has been working on its blueprint for better risk management since a landmark summit in February, and the final plan puts the focus on those areas where industry leaders agree action needs to be concentrated.
WISH’s plan outlines 24 immediate action points under 5 strategic themes – providing strong leadership, involving the workforce, building competence, creating healthier & safer workplaces and providing support for SMEs.
TUC: The TUC have welcomed the recent publication of revised codes of practice & guidance by the Pensions Regulator on maintaining pension contributions for trust-based and work-placed defined contribution (DC) schemes.
CO: The Cabinet Office has published an SME friendliness tool to help government departments engage with SMEs. The overall purpose of this tool is to change how government procures: so that SMEs make up a bigger proportion of the businesses helping government to achieve sustainable outcomes.
Specifically, this tool has been designed to:
* describe what SME friendly procurement looks like
* help measure progress towards the aspirational goals of the government to boost SME provision (especially opening up to new SME providers)
* incentivise & support improvement by allowing departments to benchmark against and learn from each other
ACE: Arts Council England have now published all 8 films from the ‘Heads Up’ series that have been produced as part of the Creative Case for Diversity, an artist-led set of explorations & sharing of best practise that seek to release diversity from a negative or deficit thinking.
NICE: NICE's new quality standard on caesarean section aims to ensure pregnant women can make an informed decision about their planned mode of birth. In 1980, fewer than 10% of women had the procedure. Now, up to a quarter of births are carried out by caesarean section. Reasons for this include concerns among certain women that they will not receive adequate care & support during labour & delivery.
The NICE quality standard on caesarean section contains nine measures that together aim to improve the care of women who may need, request or have had the procedure. These include a measure that pregnant woman should have a documented discussion with members of the maternity team about the risks & benefits of caesarean section compared with vaginal birth.
NICE: Stroke is a major health problem in the UK. Each year an estimated 150,000 people have a stroke - equivalent to 1 person every 5 minutes. The majority of those who have a stroke survive, however over 30% of people who have had a stroke live with a persisting disability, and so require access to effective rehabilitation services.
In its first clinical guideline on stroke rehabilitation, NICE says that ‘people with disability after stroke should receive rehabilitation in a dedicated stroke inpatient unit, and subsequently from a specialist stroke team within the community’.
This stroke rehabilitation team should consist of a range of professionals with expertise in stroke rehabilitation, including consultant physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, speech & language therapists and social workers.
Health & social care professionals should work collaboratively to ensure a social assessment is carried out promptly, where needed, and before the person with stroke is transferred from hospital to the community.
ScotGov: Health, social care & third sector staff will now get new guidance to identify carers and ensure they get the support they need. They can improve their skills through Equal Partners in Care, an online resource developed by NHS Education Scotland and Scottish Social Services Council.
The resource, funded by some of the £160,000 from the Scottish Government to NES, will help staff to ensure that carers are identified, supported to manage their caring role, enabled to have a life outside of caring and recognised as equal partners in care.
NE: A new set of handy waste-busting & environment-boosting ‘cab cards’ was launched at the Cereals 2013 event in Lincolnshire last week.
Produced by Catchment Sensitive Farming, the checklists provide an easy way to help busy farmers plan farm operations to avoid waste, save money and check that they are working in a water-friendly way. 4 ‘cab cards’ have been produced that cover the important topics of fertilisers, pesticides, soils and organic manures.
DFID: Ahead of the G8 Summit at Lough Erne, the G8 has published its second comprehensive report tracking progress on leaders’ development promises. This is an important example of the G8’s commitment to transparency, which is a key part of the Summit’s agenda this year.
The Lough Erne Accountability Report rates all areas, from aid efficiency to food security, as good or satisfactory. The G8 members will use the report, which adopted the innovative Red-Amber-Green scorecard system, to consider which areas need greater focus in the future. The G8 summit takes place 17-18 June.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee has published its 3rd Report of this Session which examines the financial sustainability of local authorities.
Ofsted: In a report published recently, Ofsted finds that independent reviewing officers are ‘not making enough positive impact on the quality of care planning and outcomes for looked after children. They have been too slow in taking on their enhanced responsibilities’.
The purpose of an independent reviewing officer (IRO) is to ensure that the care plan for a looked after child clearly sets out the help, care & support that they need and takes full account of their wishes & feelings. Local authorities are required by law to appoint an IRO for each looked after child.
PC&PE: The Home Affairs Committee has published its report: ‘Child sexual exploitation and the response to localised grooming’.
The Committee concluded that:
Recent criminal cases have laid bare the appalling cost paid by victims for past catastrophic multi-agency failures and there are still places in the UK where victims of child sexual exploitation are being failed by statutory agencies. The police, social services and the Crown Prosecution Service must all bear responsibility for the way in which vulnerable children have been left unprotected by the system.
CEBR: The Centre for Economics and Business Research reports that ‘UK business confidence is at its highest point since May 2012’, pointing to improved business conditions for the rest of 2013, according to the latest Business Trends report by accountants & business advisers BDO LLP.
Socitm: Data on usage & satisfaction with council websites is freely available to all comers for the first time through a new performance reporting tool launched by Socitm last week week. The Council Website Performance Monitor presents headline data from Socitm's council website user survey with no login required.
PC&PE: The original design of new English GCSEs led to the problems in 2012, say MPs on the Education Committee in a report published last week. The Committee calls on the Government, the regulator Ofqual, and others responsible for public examinations, to ‘learn lessons from errors made during the time of the last government and ensure that such errors are not repeated by the Coalition’.
PC&PE: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published its Report on the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children in the UK.
NAO: The National Audit Office has ‘found signs of improvement in financial management within government, but concluded that the scale of the challenge for financial managers in government is stark’.
The Government’s fiscal consolidation programme is now expected to last longer than originally planned, and wide-ranging service reforms are being implemented. The role of financial managers is therefore critical to ensuring that opportunities to improve value for money are realized.
WAG: The Welsh Government’s approach to dealing with reducing capital budgets will continue to support growth & jobs, Finance Minister Jane Hutt said as she published the annual report of the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP).
DWP: Private sector employment has hit a new record high, according to official statistics published last week. There are 1.3m more people in private sector jobs than in early 2010.
The figures from the Office of National Statistics show that more people are in work than ever before and that private sector employment is up 46,000 on the quarter, which more than offsets the 22,000 fall in public sector employment over the same period.
DH: The ‘shocking’ local variation in early death rates has been exposed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to drive public awareness and boost council & NHS action to tackle public health problems.
The figures are part of ‘Longer Lives’, a new Public Health England (PHE) website which allows local people to see easily how their areas perform on early deaths from the major four killers, like heart disease and cancer, and how this varies across the country.
General Reports and Other Publications
PC&PE: A tidal barrage across the Severn could contribute to energy & climate objectives, but the Hafren Power scheme has failed to demonstrate economic, environmental & public acceptability, according to MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.
IPPR: The Government should bring back the ‘Polytechnic’, according to the final report of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, published by the think tank IPPR.
The report argues that large further education colleges where students studying higher education courses make up the majority of their student body could be eligible to apply for Polytechnic status, with around half a dozen meeting demanding thresholds in the first wave.
ScotGov: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed the first independent report of the Expert Working group on Welfare. She also published an initial response to the report and announced the next phase of the Scottish Government's work to ‘build a fairer welfare system for an independent Scotland’.
CSJ: Lone parent families are increasing at a rate of more than 20,000 a year and will total more than 2m by the time of the next election, according to a major new report, by the Centre for Social Justice, accusing the Government of turning a blind eye to its commitment to promote family stability.
NO: Birmingham City Council failed to deal with a homeless family properly meaning a woman & her 4 children had to live in a one-room Bed & Breakfast for over 4 months. An investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) upholds a complaint from the woman about the council’s poor handling of her homeless application and that she was hit with an unreasonable bill for removal & storage of her possessions.
The complainant fled her council home due to harassment & threats of violence in June 2010 and applied to the council as being homeless. In August that year the council refused her application and upheld its decision after a review was requested.
NO: Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) inquiry highlights strong support for the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). The report looks at the role of the Ombudsman and how it might best use the information it holds to enhance local accountability.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee published its 9th Report of this Session which examines tax avoidance by large companies.
Legislation / Legal
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued Glasgow City Council with a monetary penalty of £150,000 following the loss of 2 unencrypted laptops, one of which contained the council’s creditor payment history file, listing the personal information of over 20,000 people, including 6,069 individuals’ bank account details.
The ICO’s investigation found that, despite the ICO’s previous warning and in breach of its own policy, the council had issued a number of its staff with unencrypted laptops after encountering problems with the encryption software.
While most of these devices were later encrypted, the ICO also discovered that a further 74 unencrypted laptops remain unaccounted for, with at least 6 of these known to have been stolen.
WAG: A new Bill would propose that the statutory requirement for local health boards to balance their books over a one-year period should be changed to a 3-year cycle. The Bill is scheduled to be introduced early in the next Assembly term and, if passed, the new financial regime would come into effect for the 2014/15 financial year.
MoJ: The most vulnerable victims are to be protected from the trauma of appearing in court, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced last week. For the first time young & vulnerable victims, who have survived the most horrific crimes, will be offered the chance to avoid what is often a distressing & intimidating court experience by pre-recording both their evidence and any cross-examination for a later trial.
This new approach will be tested in 3 areas — Leeds, Liverpool & Kingston-upon-Thames — with the intention of rolling it out more widely if it proves a success.
BIS: Measures to enhance consumer rights & make them easier to understand, which will boost the economy by £4bn over the next decade, have been unveiled by Consumer Minister Jo Swinson. The proposals, outlined in the draft Consumer Rights Bill, streamline overlapping & complicated areas from 8 pieces of legislation into one consumer Bill.
HMT: The government will introduce legislation in the autumn so that more people have access to affordable, short term credit. The changes will allow credit unions to provide credit to customers they had previously been forced to turn away.
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment has published its Report on the Planning Bill, which details the Committee's consideration and views on the Bill.
The primary objective of the Planning Bill is to accelerate the implementation of reforms contained within the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, ahead of the transfer of planning powers to local councils. The Bill also brings forward amendments to the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
PC&PE: The Government should frame its policy for EU reform in terms of the EU as a whole, not just the UK, says the Foreign Affairs Committee in a report published last week. The Government’s tone, language & overall approach can play an important role in maintaining UK influence in the EU.
The PM is to be commended for launching an ambitious agenda for reform of the EU as a whole, the Committee says. Given the crisis in the Eurozone and rising popular disaffection with the EU, it would be hard for others in the EU to argue that change is not required.
EU News: The European Parliament has given its green light on a set of clearer rules protecting specific groups of consumers such as infants & young children. The aim is to better protect consumers on the content and marketing of these ‘special’ food products, and to provide a better environment for businesses, as well as better application of rules.
The Regulation will be published in the EU Official Journal in the coming weeks and will only apply from 2016 to allow time for businesses to adapt their commercial practices. No products will however have to be withdrawn from the market.
EU News: Russia's decree that European airlines must supply it with EU air passengers' personal data is a ‘very worrying issue’ that could set a precedent for other countries, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs in a debate with Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström last week.
In July 2012 the Russian Transport Ministry issued a decree requiring European airlines to supply it with EU air passengers' personal ‘Passenger Name Record’ (PNR) data, from 1 July 2013. This also applies to overflights.
EU News: In the 2014 European elections 12 EU member states will each lose one seat and none will gain any, under a draft decision endorsed by Parliament last week. These reductions are needed in order to comply with the 751-seat limit set by the Lisbon Treaty and to make room for Croatia's MEPs.
EU News: Freedom of movement within the Schengen area will be better protected thanks to MEPs' input to the new Schengen governance rules. Inspection teams will in future be able to make unannounced visits to internal borders to halt any attempt to impose illegal checks. The Schengen governance package is expected to be adopted formally by the Council in the autumn.
EU News: New rules laying down common procedures & deadlines for handling asylum applications and basic rights for asylum seekers arriving in the EU were endorsed by Parliament last Wednesday. The Common European Asylum System will also stop transfers of asylum seekers to member states unable to ensure decent living conditions for them.
The new asylum system updates laws passed about a decade ago. Some 330,000 asylum applicants were registered in EU countries in 2012. The new asylum rules, which have already been agreed by Parliament & Council representatives and backed by national governments, should enter into force in the second half of 2015.
The Dublin rules on transfers of asylum seekers will take effect six months after their legal entry into force (i.e. at the start of 2014).
EU News: Last week the European Parliament formally adopted the updated EU rules on the re-use of public sector information, thereby completing the formal EU approval process. The Council already agreed to the new rules at the Telecoms Council last week.
The agreement on the new text has been reached in only 16 months, showing how all EU institutions are committed to unlock the full potential of the open data goldmine.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
ScotGov: A range of projects aimed at tackling sectarianism in communities across Scotland have been given funding totalling more than £3m. A Small Grants Fund has also been established to distribute £350,000 over the next 2 years to small scale and one-off projects in areas across Scotland.
Business and Other Briefings
CLG: The government is to increase its infrastructure investment in enterprise zones by £100m. 13 enterprise zones have been green lighted to receive the new money for 18 projects to build service roads, car parking & other infrastructure, transforming ‘shovel ready sites into job ready sites’.
STFC: The Science and Technology Facilities Council has signed an agreement with NVIDIA, the world leader in visual & high-performance computing, to develop GPU-based supercomputers that aim to be a thousand times more powerful than any in the UK today.
These powerful computers will provide a step-change for researchers and industry in areas such as climate modelling, stress analysis, materials modelling, molecular modelling, and numerical weather simulation.
CO: The Cabinet Office has published an SME friendliness tool to help government departments engage with SMEs. The overall purpose of this tool is to change how government procures: so that SMEs make up a bigger proportion of the businesses helping government to achieve sustainable outcomes – See ‘Guidance Notes & Best Practice Guides’ section for more information
DECC: 3 British companies have recently been given a boost of £1.34m to test cutting edge designs in bioenergy. The winning companies - AB systems, AMW IBERS and Natural Synergies - were selected from an initial list of 7 to go through from the project design stage to the testing phase of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s £2m wetlands biomass to bioenergy competition.
As set out in the Government’s 2012 bioenergy strategy, sustainably sourced bioenergy has an important part to play in the UK’s future energy mix, with the potential to contribute around 11% of the UK’s total primary energy demand by 2020.
DECC: Business & Energy Minister, Michael Fallon has announced the creation of an Offshore Wind Investment Organisation (OWIO) to boost levels of inward investment and to further stimulate jobs in the UK offshore wind industry, alongside Government support for 3 offshore wind innovation projects.
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