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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

WGPlus Summer Break Notice:    Please note that whilst the Wired-GOV email alerting system will be operating as normal throughout August, our next weekly newsletter will be published and emailed to subscribers on Monday, 2nd September.  
ScotGovBut do the FM’s figures add up when analysed in hard-headed Glasgow? - Scotland’s oil & gas reserves are a premium advantage, offering an independent Scotland greater choices & chances to strengthen its diverse economy, Alex Salmond said last week when he unveiled a key policy paper (Maximising the return from Oil & Gas in an independent Scotland) ahead of next year’s historic referendum.
PC&PE Is more staff the answer or less immigrants? - A&E is Keogh's next challenge, say MPs as the Health Committee publishes its report on urgent & emergency services

Growing demand on A&E departments will make them unsustainable if effective action is not taken quickly to relieve the pressures on them, according to MPs on the Health Committee.
Press release & links ~ NHS Confed: Select committee right that A&E pressures need urgent action ~ Monitor: Foundation hospitals plan to take on more frontline staff ~ DH: Proposals to reform migrant access to health and housing unveiled ~ Monitor report highlights pressure on foundation trust A&E services ~ TKF: A&E waiting times hit 8-year high as NHS struggles to meet productivity challenge ~ NT: Impact of immigration on the NHS ~ NHS Confederation - The alarm bells on urgent & emergency care have rung, we need to take action now ~ NHS Confederation responds to College of Emergency Medicine and FTN concerns about urgent and emergency care ~ DH: Doctors’ contracts fit for the 21st century ~ PX: Align Consultant & GP pay to keep patients out of hospital ~ TKF: 2.3m fewer overnight hospital stays needed if all areas perform as well as top 25% ~ BRC: Dangerous cuts are putting vulnerable people at risk ~ ScotGov: A&E waiting times

RoSPA:  Its summer, so it must be time to think of the problem of icy pavements & other dangers! - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has launched a campaign to prevent thousands of older people being unnecessarily admitted to hospital from a fall at home.   

RoSPA has created the short film, Facing up to Falls, as part of its Safer Homes project.  It aims to educate families & older people on practical steps to avoid falls by highlighting key issues that lead to a tumble. 
The film, involves real-life experiences of older people living in the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Newham.  Falls among people aged over 65 are a national problem with around 310,000 hospital admissions in 2011-12.  Over a quarter of falls result in hip fractures and the treatment of these alone is estimated to cost around £2bn.
HMT:  Detailed critical analysis or Europhile Civil Service ‘fudge’? - As part of the government’s Balance of Competences Review - a 2-year project to analyse & examine the UK’s relationship with the EUHM Treasury has published a report considering what EU membership means for the UK & taxation.  

The report aims to examine the balance of competence between the UK & EU and to provide an analysis of what the UK’s membership of the EU means for the UK national interest.

The report is 1 of 6 reports published.  These reports cover the single market (an overview), health, development co-operation & humanitarian aid, foreign policy, animal health and welfare & food safety, as well as taxation.
IPCCThe ‘wheels of justice’ continue to grind (very slowly) - The Independent Police Complaints Commission has published its decision in relation to referrals regarding allegations connected to the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Macpherson Inquiry.
FCO:  Location beacon (service) turned off - The Consular Service will no longer use the LOCATE system for registering details of British nationals, nor will it continue to routinely use our SMS system that they have recently piloted.  This follows the launch of a new consular strategy for 2013 to 2016 titled ‘Consular Excellence’.  From now on every British National going abroad will have access to update country-specific travel advice through email updates and via social media.  
FSA:  Help keep food safety issues out of future headlines - The Food Standards Agency has joined forces with the British Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to fund 2 early-career fellowships in food safety.

The 5-year fellowships will support scientists who wish to pursue research into areas such as combating foodborne diseases or emerging issues affecting food safety.  Working with the FSA, the fellows will also be encouraged to use their research expertise to contribute to relevant policy initiatives. Deadline for Applications4pm 23 October 2013.
WAG:  Time to stem that funding gap - The Welsh Government is issuing a final call for applications from providers of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities for its National Science Academy Grant Scheme (NSAGS).  The deadline for its autumn grant round is 31 July 2013.
Press release & links

:  Not what it says on the ‘tin’! - The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is warning consumers that it does not protect the customers of Diamond Savings Unlimited

The company is using strong interest rates to attract savers and it features FSCS’s logo on its website.  So people may think FSCS is protecting their money with the firm.  But this is not the case.
Press release & links

Security Summit Invitation - 22nd October, Park Plaza Riverbank, London - It's no secret - beating the bad guys can seem like an impossible mission………especially when they’re targeting sensitive data and invaluable IT assets. However, implementing a secure connected strategy, protecting your datacentre, network and endpoints could mean Mission Accomplished!

Join a group of your peers, high-profile speakers and influential security experts to gain the insight necessary to transform your organisation’s security strategies.

Network with other public sector security professionals, get in-depth security updates, and learn more about today's most pressing security challenges.

All this and a guest speaker appearance Andy McNab, DCM MM, former SAS operative and soldier, author of Bravo Two Zero!

Click here to find out more and to register as a free public sector delegate.

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

General News

NICE: NICE will develop innovative new ways of considering how the costs & benefits of informal care can be taken into account when developing social care guidance & quality standards. This follows a series of recommendations made by NICE's Citizens Council who were asked at their last meeting to consider whether NICE needed to take into account any additional factors when looking at social care.
MoD: A thought-provoking exhibition on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) opened recently at the National Army Museum in London. In an instant they can change lives, causing confusion & destruction. Over the last decade the improvised explosive device has become the insurgents’ weapon of choice and entered our lexicon of evil.
ScotGov: The pristine marine environment at Sound of Barra is to be given international recognition following a decision to make the Western Isles site a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The new SAC will be managed using an innovative majority community-led approach utilising local knowledge.
HO: A new pilot allowing top business migrants to continue travelling whilst waiting for their visa to be processed launched last week. Applicants re-applying for a visa under the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route will now receive their passport back within 7 - 10 days, after applying for their visa, but before it has been approved.
It forms part of the Home Office focus to make the visa application easier for businesses & their employees.  Recent figures show that our reforms to the immigration system have not deterred the brightest & the best from coming to the UK as visas for skilled migrants increased by 5% in the year up to March 2013.
UNICEF:  Sports fans signing up for seats at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will have the chance to donate to UNICEF’s life-changing work with children when they buy their tickets. This will be the first opportunity for the general public to actively support this exciting new partnership for children announced by UNICEF, the Commonwealth Games Federation and Glasgow 2014 back in April 2013.
As part of their ticket application every person will be given the opportunity to include a donation of £1, £3 or £5 to UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s organisation.  The money raised will go towards helping improve the lives of babies & children in Scotland and in Commonwealth countries across the world through the many transformative projects UNICEF delivers every day. 
ScotGov: An outbreak of American Foulbrood (AFB), a disease affecting colonies of honeybees, has been found in an apiary in the Stranraer area. The disease was confirmed last week following laboratory diagnosis by Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).  

The AFB infected hive has been destroyed as there is no permitted treatment for the disease in the UK.  There are no risks to public health from AFB and no implications for the quality & safety of honey. The movement of bees & related equipment into or out of the affected apiary are under specific controls.
HO: Vans displaying large adverts encouraging illegal migrants to return home voluntarily have been driving around London in a one week pilot.  The vans, as well as leaflets, posters & messages in local newspapers will be used to highlight the advantages of returning home voluntarily – while making clear enforcement action will be taken if they do not.
OfcomA correction has been made to reflect changes in the news release regarding news minutage in Wales.
Ofcom has set out the terms that will apply to new public service broadcasting licences for ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5. This forms part of Ofcom’s work to issue new 10-year licences when the current ones expire at the end of 2014.
DECCNational Grid have announced that T-pylon, the winner of the Pylon Design Competition, is being offered for the first time in the UK for a new electricity connection in Somerset. 

The new design has a single pole and T shaped cross arms which hold the conductors and wires in a diamond ‘earring’ shape.  Because of this innovative layout, the pylon can stand at a height of just 35 metres, 10 to 15 metres shorter than the traditional lattice towers.
TUC: Responding to last Wednesday’s announcement by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), that (from October 2013) it is to stop carrying out automatic inspections of all companies applying for a new GLA licence, the TUC has warned the decision could lead to an increase in rogue employment agencies.
ACE: A new application process for organisations wishing to apply for Arts Council National portfolio and Major partner museum funding from 2015 to 2018 will open in January 2014.  The overall budget for National portfolio organisations and Major partner museums is anticipated to be reduced by 5% in real terms in 2015/16.
Organisations will be invited to submit applications during a 3 month window from early January 2014, with further information about the process, timeline and the criteria for making funding applications being made available in late autumn.
TfL: New figures from London Underground's workplace violence unit show that 10 years of using DNA spit kits to identify perpetrators of spit attacks on Tube staff has contributed to a reduction in such behaviour by 75%.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DECC: The government will take additional action to help independent renewable generators gain entry to the electricity market, in order to promote competition & innovation. 

An amendment has been tabled to the Energy Bill that will make it easier for independent generators of renewable electricity to sell their power to suppliers via Power Purchase Agreements, thereby improving their access to market.
BIS: The UK will become a world leader in agricultural science & technology following the launch of a new strategy to deliver sustainable, healthy & affordable food for future generations. Breakthroughs in nutrition, informatics, satellite imaging, remote sensing, meteorology & precision farming mean the agriculture sector is one of the world’s fastest growing sectors.
DHMore than 650 lives a year could be saved if simple NHS Health Checks were offered throughout the country & taken up, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said recently in a call to action for people to start thinking more seriously about their health.
A Public Health England (PHE) review has reiterated that checking 40 to 74-year-olds’ blood pressure, cholesterol, weight & lifestyle could identify problems earlier and prevent 650 deaths, 1,600 heart attacks and 4,000 cases of diabetes a year. PHE, which leads the NHS Health Check programme, has now launched a 10-point plan to help councils roll them out to 20% of their eligible local population a year –15m people by 2018/19.
DWP: The government's wage incentive scheme has encouraged UK businesses to offer over 21,000 jobs to young people at risk of long term unemployment. The scheme, which offers businesses up to £2,275 for taking on a young person who has been out of work for at least 6 months, or is attached to the Work Programme, is part of the cross-government Youth Contract package of measures to tackle youth unemployment.
CLG: Housing Minister, Mark Prisk, has confirmed that the Right to Transfer coming into force in the autumn, will mean tenants can take control over future investment into their communities by requesting a change of ownership & requiring new homes to be built.
GPS: The Cabinet Office recently announced the intention to establish an integrated commercial service for Government to deliver significant savings to the taxpayer and improve the quality of commercial & procurement activity across central government and the wider public sector

This will bring together Government Procurement Service and other Cabinet Office teams.  The Crown Commercial Service will be established this autumn building on the evolution of GPS over the last two years. 
DH: Building projects up & down the country have been given the green light to start producing homes that will support older & disabled people to live independently for as long as possible.   Last year the government asked local authorities to bid for a share of £300m to boost the supported housing market.  The Department of Health has now allocated funding to build 3,544 new homes.
WAG: Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies has announced new measures and an additional £6m to help halt the loss of wildlife & habitats in Wales.
DECC: A new £20m Green Deal Communities scheme to help local authorities drive street-by-street delivery of the Green Deal has been announced.  Under new proposals from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), local authorities in England will be able to bid for funding from a £20m pot to help households benefit from the Green Deal on a street-by-street or area basis.
Local authorities will identify target streets & areas in their regions that could most benefit from the Green Deal, and then offer incentives to households in these areas to encourage them to install energy efficiency home improvements under the Green Deal.  Local authorities will propose incentives as part of their bids for funding, which will be assessed by DECC.
CLG: A Southampton quayside development was last week the first to benefit from a government scheme to build homes specifically for private rent. Housing Minister Mark Prisk welcomed the first deal under the Government’s £1bn Build to Rent scheme, to deliver homes private rent as part of a 1,600-home development at the Centenary Quay development.
Defra: An action plan to help farmers prepare for risks to their businesses was agreed by major banks, farming charities & farming representatives at a summit convened by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson recently.
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The first farming resilience summit was held earlier this year following the bad weather that placed particular financial pressures on many of Britain’s farmers.  The experts in banking, farming, insurance and business convened again last week to agree new action to improve farmers’ resilience in the face of future challenges.
DH: 116 hospitals & care homes across England have been awarded a share of a £50m fund to create pioneering care environments designed with the needs of people with dementia in mind
ScotGovIndependence will allow Scotland to set defence priorities that reflect Scottish needs and develop the right capabilities to meet them, First Minister Alex Salmond said recently. In the third of a series of keynote speeches the First Minister is making over the summer,

Mr Salmond focussed on Scotland's defence needs and the difference between current capabilities based around maintaining the UK’s perceived prestige and Scottish priorities.


HMT: The government has launched a consultation on a proposed tax regime for shale gas, including a new shale gas ‘pad’ allowance.  The ‘pad’ allowance is based on the highly successful existing field allowances for oil and gas production which are expected to help encourage nearly £14bn investment in 2013 – the highest on record. The new allowance will reduce the tax on a portion of a company’s production income from 62% to 30% at current rates.
Alongside this, new guidance was published recently that explains to industry & local communities how applications for exploratory shale gas developments should proceed through the planning system. Consultation closes on 13 September 2013.
TfLCrossrail 2 would create a new high frequency, high capacity rail line with shorter journey times between southwest and northeast London. People are encouraged to share their views on Crossrail 2 before the consultation closes on 2 August 2013.
HO: The government wants to make tramadol a Class C drug but ensure it is available to those who need it as a prescription medicine. Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne has launched a consultation in conjunction with the Department for Health, on access to tramadol. Consultation closes on 11 October 2013.
BISEmployers could be funded directly to purchase the apprenticeship training they want as part of proposals which will put businesses in the driving seat. The government is consulting on funding reforms proposed by the entrepreneur Doug Richard.

 These will give employers freedom to choose the training that is most relevant to the needs of the Apprentices and their businesses, and which represents best value. The consultation closes on 1 October 3013.
CLG: Property owners could get a greater role in revitalising their high streets under plans announced by Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk. The minister visited London’s West End to see an example of how business improvement district partnership can bring regeneration to an area. The consultation closes on 17 September 2013.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has issued a proposed revised version of its practice note on ‘The Audit of Housing Associations in the United Kingdom’.  The consultation closes on Friday 25 October 2013.
EU News: The European Commission is consulting the public on draft guidelines on how Member States can support the provision of risk finance to SMEs.  Based on the results of a first consultation in July 2012), the draft proposes more flexibility in defining eligible companies & forms of financing.  Consultation closes on 18 September 2013.
ScotGov: A joint marine consultation has been launched that will help decide how Scotland’s seas are managed in the future.  The joint consultation includes:
* Scotland’s first National Marine Plan
* Proposals for a network of new Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
* Draft sectorial marine plans for a sustainable offshore renewable energy industry in Scotland
Throughout the consultation process Marine Scotland along with SNH and Joint Nature Conversation Committee (JNCC) will be hosting a series of events & workshops throughout Scotland.  The consultation closes on 13 November 2013.
HEFCE: Views are invited on the open access proposals for the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).   The 4 UK higher education funding bodies aim to further increase the proportion of research outputs published in open-access form by introducing this as a requirement in the next REF.
The proposals set out the details for implementing this requirement, and were developed following the advice received by the funding bodies in response to HEFCE’s earlier letter on open access. The consultation document is available on the Higher Education Funding Council Englandweb-site. The consultation closes 30 October 2013 - please use the electronic response form which can be accessed alongside the consultation document.
Ofgem: Ofgem has launched a consultation on a proposal for £205mn of funding to reinforce the transmission infrastructure between the Kintyre peninsula and Hunterston. Consultation closes on 18 September 2013.
Ofcom: Ofcom has set out proposals for the renewal of the Channel 4 licence, which is due to expire at the end of 2014.  Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom is required to issue a licence to Channel 4 Corporation for the broadcast of the Channel 4 service, and is required to impose certain obligations on the licence.
Ofcom is consulting on whether 2 of Channel 4’s current licence conditions remain appropriate, or whether amendments might be considered. Ofcom considers that the other licence conditions remain appropriate and should remain unchanged in the renewed licence. The consultation closes on 10 October 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

NICESurgery should only be offered to treat varicose veins if other less invasive treatments are unsuitable for patients, according to latest guidance from NICE. 

Varicose veins develop when blood vessels become enlarged, preventing blood flowing back to the heart efficiently and resulting in blood flowing in the wrong direction. They normally occur in the legs, and are more likely to occur among older people and those who are pregnant.
To help standardise the kind of treatment patients with this treatment can receive, NICE has published a new clinical guideline on varicose veins.
HEFCE: A web-based tool to measure plant diversity on university & college campuses has been developed by the University of Northampton with funds from Higher Education Funding Council England.

The Biodiversity Index is an interactive system which allows organisations with little or no knowledge of biodiversity to assess the level of plant diversity on their land quickly, simply and scientifically.
NICE: NICE has recommended the use of aripiprazole (Abilify) as an option for treating moderate to severe manic episodes in adolescents with bipolar disorder

This latest guidance follows the 2006 clinical guideline on the overall management of bipolar disorder in adults, children & adolescents, and focuses on the use of aripiprazole for the specific treatment in adolescents aged 13 and older.
Ofcom: In time for the summer holiday exodus, Ofcom has published a new guide to help travellers protect themselves against ‘bill shock’ when using their smartphones & tablets abroad.
NICE: A new device that detects the cause of unexplained vaginal wetness in pregnancy could help pregnant women avoid receiving unnecessary invasive speculum examinations, according to NICE. Unexplained vaginal wetness during pregnancy can be caused by preterm, prelabour rupture of the membranes.  
NICE says GPs, midwives & practice nurses can use Vision Amniotic Leak Detector as a way of reliably excluding a leak of amniotic fluid as a cause of vaginal wetness in pregnancy. The device is a diagnostic panty liner that can be attached to underwear, which has a central polymer-embedded strip that turns blue-green on contact with amniotic fluid.
FRC: The FRC has issued updated guidance for audits of entities of all sizes that may be subject to the risks associated with using financial instruments.  The guidance aims to enhance investor confidence in the depth & reliability of the audit.
HMT: The government has launched a consultation on a proposed tax regime for shale gas, including a new shale gas ‘pad’ allowance.  Alongside this, new guidance was published recently that explains to industry & local communities how applications for exploratory shale gas developments should proceed through the planning system – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.

Annual Reports

PC&PEGovernment must match long-term vision with long term funding to secure a 2012 legacy for school sport, says the House of Commons Education Committee.
MoJ: The latest figures show that the number of claims management companies registered to handle personal injury claims has fallen from 2,435 in March 2012 to 1,700 in June 2013. 

The sharp decline follows changes to the law around no-win, no-fee deals passed by the Government in 2012 and brought into effect in April 2013. These included a ban on the ‘referral fees’ which used to be paid between no-win, no-fee lawyers, claims firms and others for profitable claims.
The figures were included in last week’s annual report of the Claims Management Regulation unit, based at the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for regulating the companies which advertise for claims and handle them on behalf of people pursuing compensation for injuries or other issues, like mis-sold insurance.
Ofsted: The support & challenge provided to local schools by the first two councils visited under a new Ofsted inspection regime were last week branded as 'ineffective'. The verdicts follow 5-day inspections of local authority arrangements for school improvement carried out last month in Norfolk & the Isle of Wight.
DfT10 most crowded trains statistics and latest train crowding statistics have been released.
PC&PE: In an inquiry scrutinising the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its Rural Communities Policy Unit, the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee finds that much more needs to be done if Defra is to achieve its target of ‘fair, practical & affordable outcomes for rural residents, businesses and communities’.
MoJ: While the number of people entering the criminal justice system is falling a hardcore group continue to re-offend at an alarming rate, latest figures show. More than 400,000 crimes were committed by those who had broken the law before, in the year up to September 2011.

General Reports and Other Publications

PC&PE: The Home Affairs Committee has published its Report on Police & Crime Commissioners: power to remove Chief Constables.   The Report recommends that police & crime panels should fully exercise their powers of scrutiny in cases where the commissioner proposes to remove a chief constable.
TKF: A distinctive feature of the 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) that took over responsibility for the majority of the budget for commissioning health care services in the English NHS from 1 April 2013 is that they are membership organisations designed to harness the clinical expertise of their local GP members. Handing greater control of budgets to GPs was a key element of the government's Health & Social Care Act (2012).
However, one of the first studies to be conducted into the early experiences of CCGs, published last week by The King's Fund and the Nuffield Trust, suggests that member GPs are less likely to believe that their CCG is 'owned' by them when compared with the leaders of those CCGs.  

While there was a great deal of support for what CCGs are trying to achieve, many of the GPs involved in the study felt that decisions being taken by their CCG did not always reflect their views.
PC&PE: The Justice Committee’s 4th Report of Session 2013–14, Environmental Offences Guideline: Consultation examines proposed sentencing guidelines on Environmental Offences published by the Sentencing Council
NENatural England has published a report containing the final proposals for the 41 km stretch of England’s Coast Path which runs between Sea Palling on the east end of the north Norfolk coast, and Weybourne in the west.  This follows on from a 3-month public consultation asking for people’s views on the draft proposals for this stretch of coast. 
CIPD: The UK’s economic growth could be boosted if large firms adopted the entrepreneurial spirit that drives so much value in start-ups and small firms. According to new CIPD research, by encouraging a culture of ‘intrapreneurialism,’ big businesses could help their employees adopt entrepreneurial behaviours that foster innovation & growth.
ESRC: One of the greatest social changes across Europe in recent decades has been the increase of women in the labour market.  However, changes in women’s work patterns have not always been matched by changes in the division of household tasks between the sexes, reveals a study from the European Social Survey (ESS).
So perhaps not unfairly women often feel their work is never done, with those working full-time still responsible, on average, for around two-thirds of the total time heterosexual couples spend on housework.  However, with women doing most of the housework this can lead to feelings of work-life conflict - for men!
PC&PECross-Government cooperation needed to help Service children get equal education opportunities, say MPs. The MoD must resolve a conflict at the heart of the Armed Forces Covenant in the provision of education to Service children, says the Defence Committee.
The nature of Service life means that families are required to be mobile if they are to accompany the Service parent.  This mobility has major impact on the continuity of children’s education, in particular, parents can find it difficult to get their children into the schools of their choice.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee publishes its 16th Report of this Session which examines the progress in minimising waste from the FiRecontrol project and achieving the original objectives through other means.
NLGNCan Local Government innovate its way out of cuts? - The New Local Government Network posed this question in a recent survey of more than 65 councils from across the country.  Depending on how you read the results, the findings are either remarkably optimistic or deeply worrying.
NO: The Local Government Ombudsman has issued a report into Wiltshire Council’s handling of a homelessness case, despite finding no significant injustice in the council’s treatment of the woman.
PC&PE: The House of Lords Constitution Committee last week published its report on the constitutional arrangements for the use of armed force, in which it criticises the Government’s lack of clarity over the need for a Commons vote before any steps are taken by the UK to arm the Syrian National Council.
PC&PE: There are risks to the justice system’s ability to convict criminals and meet the needs of victims unless there is a proper strategy for forensic science following the closure of the Forensic Science Service (FSS), the Science and Technology Committee has warned.
PC&PE: In a report published last week, the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee calls on Government to produce a 5-year rolling Spending Review, aligned to the 5-year fixed term Parliament.  Greater clarity on spending would reduce short-termism in policy planning & delivery.
LSIS: The Learning and Skills Improvement Service has published 3 new research reports on sustainability which can serve to inform & serve FE and skills sector learning providers as they look to embed sustainability skills & education for sustainable development (ESD) in their learning provision, building on the support and resources that LSIS has offered over the last three years.
“The publication of the reports marks the completion of the LSIS Leading and Learning for a Sustainable Future strategy which we launched in spring 2010”, said Conrad Benefield, LSIS Sustainability Programme Development Manager.

Legislation / Legal

CLG: Ministers gave backing recently to a council byelaw that would make spitting in the street a criminal offence. The London Borough of Enfield applied to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, for provisional approval to make byelaws that prohibit anti-social spitting across the borough due to the extent of the localised problem.
Councils across the country already have byelaws in place to tackle anti-social behaviour, from dog fowling to urination.  Byelaws may be submitted to the Department for confirmation if they are formally adopted by the council and submitted in accordance with the procedure set out in the guidance notes, which can be found on the Communities & Local Government website.
PC&PE: A Bill establishing a statutory code for pub companies should be brought forward at the earliest opportunity, says the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee in a Report published last week. 

The Committee welcomes the Government’s consultation on a Statutory Code of Conduct, an action it recommended in 2011, but warns that there can be no more delays in resolving the matter and bringing forward legislation.
TIS: The Supreme Court last week delivered judgment in the matter of Lehman Companies (No. 2) following an appeal brought by the administrators.  The appeal was allowed, meaning that liabilities under a Financial Support Direction issued against an insolvent company rank as an unsecured claim. The Government welcomes the decision and careful consideration will be given to the implications of this important judgment.
Press release & links
CC:  The Competition Commission (CC) has provisionally ruled that the merger between kaolin suppliers Imerys Minerals Limited and Goonvean Limited could lead to a loss of competition & higher prices for some of their customers.
ICO: The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued an enforcement notice ordering a police force to review its use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.  The decision follows the ICO’s investigation into Hertfordshire Constabulary’s extensive use of ANPR cameras surrounding the town of Royston.
The use of these cameras has effectively made it impossible for anyone to drive their car in & out of Royston without a record being kept of the journey.  The scheme is regularly referred to as ‘the ring of steel’.  The ICO has now ruled that the collection of the information is unlawful – breaching principle one of the Act – and excessive – breaching principle three.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has been issued with an enforcement notice ordering the force to stop processing people’s information in this way, unless they can justify the ANPR cameras use by way of a proper privacy impact assessment, or similar such assessment.
MoJ: The needs of bereaved families will be put at the heart of a reformed coroner system by a new national code, Justice Minister Helen Grant announced. The new legal framework will ensure all 96 coroners in England & Wales will work to the same standards, ending the past inconsistencies which led to criticisms of a postcode lottery – with bereaved people in some areas facing long waits for inquests.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: There is no clear evidence that the Commission Proposals to create a smart border system for the external borders of the EU will fulfil the aims that it has set out, said the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) recently.
Following the publication of his opinion which focuses specifically on the Entry/Exit System, the EDPS said that one of the stated aims of the proposals was to replace the existing 'slow & unreliable' system but the Commission's own assessments do not indicate that the alternative will be sufficiently efficient to justify the expense & intrusions into privacy.
EU News: Last week, in a public demonstration, a successful position fix on the basis of the EU’s current 4 Galileo satellites was announced.  This position fix of longitude, latitude & altitude is proof of the ability of Galileo - the European Commission’s programme to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control - to provide highly accurate positioning data of cars or other objects.
Tajani also announced that further satellite launches will bring first services by the end of 2014.  They will result in an improved GPS signal and - with more precision, coverage & availability of satellite navigation signals - a whole new array of business opportunities will arise.
EU NewsFraud affecting the EU budget increased slightly in 2012 compared to 2011, according to the Commission's annual report on the ‘Protection of the EU's Financial Interests’.
EU News: In order to adapt EU payments market to the opportunities of the single market and to support the growth of the EU economy, the European Commission recently adopted a new package including:
* A new payment Services Directive (‘PSD2’)
* A proposal for regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions
EU News: The European Commission is consulting the public on draft guidelines on how Member States can support the provision of risk finance to SMEs – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information

Charity and Voluntary Sector

SE: England’s love affair with table tennis is set to continue as the innovative street ping pong initiative Ping! returns to our streets this summer.  This time it’s bigger than ever, with a record 12 regions taking part and more than 500 public ping-pong tables available for freeplay.  To join the fun, simply borrow a bat from the side of the table and play ball!  
Backed by National Lottery funding from Sport England, Ping! launched last week in Bristol and will roll out across the rest of the country this week with a special floating ping pong party on HMS President in London.
Press release & links
UKOC: Over the last few months, UK Online Centres been working with Jobcentre Plus to support their work experience initiative by offering individuals placements as volunteer Digital Champions in our centres - and you could get involved too.
The scheme is rolling out regionally throughout the rest of this year and centres who have already taken part have found it's a great way to build a stronger relationship with their local JCP, add extra resource in their centre and bring in fresh experience & new skills from the volunteer taking part. 

If you're interested in taking part and offering a jobseeker experience of working in a UK online centre, please email UKOC to get involved.
BIG: 32 Local Authority areas across England have been shortlisted for a share in a £70m funding package under the Big Lottery Fund’s Fulfilling Lives: Ageing Better programme tackling social isolation for vulnerable older people.  The area partnerships will be led by local voluntary organisations.
The initiative will make funding available in around 15 to 20 local areas, over a period of up to 6 years, to pilot area-wide, voluntary service led local authority partnership projects to improve the lives of older people.  Awards will be made in Spring 2014.
CO: Public servants who form ‘John Lewis style’ mutuals to take control of their services need better access to external finance if they are to transform public services, a report published yesterday argued.  

The Boston Consulting Group report, Soft Finance, Hard Choices, analysed the performance of 71 mutuals, which currently deliver £1.2bn of public services, as well as 15 mutual projects in development. It found clear evidence that mutuals are improving service quality & driving innovation.
It also showed that they are performing well as businesses with the 62 mutuals launched since 2010 generating substantial growth and creating as many as 3,000 new jobs. 

The report warned that as the number of new mutuals increased, greater consideration must be given to attracting social & private capital investment to ensure long-term sustainability.

Business and Other Briefings

CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published a provisional decision regarding the remedies it is considering introducing when it publishes its final report on the supply of statutory audit services to large companies in the UK this autumn.
In a summary of its provisional decision on remedies, the CC has put forward a package of measures to promote competition and to ensure that competition is directed towards satisfying the demands of shareholders.

The remedy package includes measures to improve the bargaining power of companies and encourage rivalry between audit firms; measures to enhance the influence of the Audit Committee; and measures to promote shareholder engagement in the audit process.
WAG: The Welsh Government’s pilot Energy and Environment SME Growth Fund – designed to support the growth of businesses in this key sector - has been extended to include support for capital investments.
Applications for the £ 590,000 Fund are invited for projects with eligible costs ranging from £4,000 up to a maximum of £100,000.  Businesses applying for the non repayable finance will need to provide a minimum of 50% match funding.  Further details are available on the Business Wales website.
BIS: A new scheme introduced last week gives businesses a stronger voice in influencing how regulators change the way they work.  Under the new Accountability for Regulator Impact scheme non-economic regulators that are planning a significant change in policy or practice – for example, by updating guidance or inspection regimes - will assess & quantify the impact of that change on business.
They will then share & discuss these assessments with trade associations and other business representatives before carrying out the proposed changes.
HMT: A new £10m prize to incentivise the development of the next generation of ultra low emission cars has been announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander during a visit to McLaren.  The prize will only be targeted at technology for everyday cars that are comparable in price to conventionally fuelled cars, in order to ensure the next generation of low-emission cars are affordable for all.
The competition will start by the end of 2013 and will be open to all including businesses, universities and engineering experts.
SFA: The National Apprenticeship Service has launched new measures designed to help guide employers through the process of recruiting an apprentice.  This followed the announcement of the extension of the £1,500 Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16-24 year olds for another year.  
Two new films, ‘How to hire an apprentice’ and ‘Why hire an apprentice’, have been launched on to guide employers through the process of recruiting an apprentice.
BISEmployers could be funded directly to purchase the apprenticeship training they want as part of proposals which will put businesses in the driving seat – See ‘Consultations’ section for more information.
R&C brief informing operators of some combined heat and power stations of changes to their carbon price support tax liability.

Industry News

STFC: International research including the UK and Japan has confirmed that subatomic particles called neutrinos have a new form of identity-shifting property.   These results could one day help scientists explain why the universe contains matter but very little antimatter.
10DSBentley Motors has confirmed development of the Bentley SUV, which will be made in Crewe and create over 1,000 jobs in the UK. On a visit to the Bentley headquarters in Crewe, PM David Cameron welcomed the announcement, saying:  “This £800m investment and 1,000 new jobs from Bentley is fantastic news for both Crewe and for the UK as a whole”.
DECCNorth Blyth Energy Ltd has been granted permission by Government to construct a 99.9MW biomass power station at Blyth Harbour, Northumberland. The developer estimates that the biomass project will provide enough electricity to meet the annual electricity needs of as many as 170,000 homes a year – the equivalent of all the homes in Northumberland.

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