The WGPlus team welcomes back readers returning from their summer break and would like to point out that this week’s newsletter includes items that were issued by departments & organisations during our recess, rather than just for the previous week.


LSC:  Unqualified applicants get binned - New research from the Learning and Skills Council reveals that 22% of employers say they would not recruit job-seekers with less than five good GCSEs (or the vocational equivalent) – and 15% completely ignore CVs if the job applicant does not have these essential qualifications.


Following the CBI report which revealed that too many teenagers are leaving school barely able to write or add up – LSC research shows that for those that don’t stay on in learning and are lucky enough to find a job, the prospects are bleak.


Of the 74% of employers who would recruit someone with less than five good GCSEs, 47% would only offer unskilled positions with low pay and limited prospects.


On average, employers said they would pay someone a starting salary £1,700 higher if they had five A*-C GCSEs compared to someone without these qualifications plus experience.  This backs up official statistics which state that over a lifetime someone with the minimum set of qualifications will earn £4,000 more per year compared to someone without.

Press release ~ Learning and Skills Council ~ CBI report press release ~ 'Working On The Three Rs' ~ Education Maintenance Allowance ~ Apprenticeships

HC:  NHS fails to meet statutory requirements on racism - The Healthcare Commission has warned that it suspects the NHS of widespread non-compliance with legislation on race relations designed to promote equality.  It has released results of an audit suggesting most trusts have not met responsibilities to publish information under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.


Inspectors scanned each website of all 570 NHS trusts, looking for information that legislation has required public bodies to publish since May 2002 and they could only find this information the websites of seven NHS trusts (around 1% of the total).


As part of a duty to promote race equality, all NHS trusts should publish:

·         a race equality scheme and action plan setting out how the organisation will make race equality central to all its functions (reviewed every three years)

·         annual employment monitoring statistics showing the ethnic profile of the workforce, including access to training & promotion, as well as numbers of job applicants and short-listed candidates

·         the outcome of race equality impact assessments demonstrating what action has been taken to address any adverse impact of an organisation’s policies.


The Commission stresses that the audit is not a definitive test of compliance, but says the findings do suggest a significant problem with the number of trusts meeting statutory codes of practice.

Press release ~ Race Equality Audit ~ Healthcare Commission – equality, diversity and human rights ~ Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 ~ Commission for Racial Equality ~ NHS – Equality & diversity ~ DH – Equality & diversity ~ DH policy & guidance ~ CRE – Race equality and NHS Trusts ~ CRE – Race equality guide for SHAs ~ CRE - Primary health care code of practice ~ Race for Health


Ofsted:  Ofsted declares childcare is generally ‘safe’ - Early Years: Safe and Sound, a new report published by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), reveals that the majority of registered childcare providers ensure that the children placed in their care are kept safe and well cared for.  The report is intended to be used as a tool by childcare providers to further improve their practice with children.


Inspectors found that 97% of the 25,000 childcare providers inspected between April 2005 and March 2006 were satisfactory or better in keeping children in their care safe from harm.  Very few (3%) were deemed inadequate.    In the same period, 98% of providers were satisfactory or better at helping children to be healthy.  Very few (2%) were inadequate.


A clear indication of improved childcare is that the percentage of inspections where it was necessary for Ofsted to set actions for improvement has reduced.   Ofsted set actions for 22% of all providers inspected during the last inspection cycle (April 2003 to March 2005), because they were not meeting one or more of the National Standards.  However, this year it was necessary to set actions for only 4% of providers inspected. 


The Safe & Sound mini-website features the Safe and Sound report and other materials including:

·         a poster

·         leaflet

·         PowerPoint presentation and

·         short article for providers’ associations and local authorities to use at meetings with providers & their staff

Press release ~ Safe & Sound mini-website ~ Early Years: Safe and sound ~ Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) ~ Children Act 2004 ~ National Standards of Childcare


HC:  What happens when you combine poor management and staff shortages?- The Healthcare Commission has published an investigation report into the deaths of ten women who gave birth at Northwick Park Hospital, West London.  The report describes what happened to each of the ten women, all of whom died during pregnancy or within 42 days of giving birth between April 2002 and April 2005.  The death rate per 100,000 maternities was nearly seven times higher than the national average at Northwick Park


This report, which aimed to identify if there were common factors between the deaths, paints a stark picture of what can happen when a maternity unit has inadequate systems to protect the women it cares for.


Common factors included:

·         insufficient input from a consultant or a senior midwife (in five cases), with difficult decisions often left to junior staff

·         failure to recognise & respond quickly where a woman’s condition changed unexpectedly

·         inadequate resources to deal with high-risk cases:

·         a working culture that led to poor working practices and resulted in poor quality of care

·         failure to learn lessons on the unit

·         failure by the Trust’s board to appreciate the seriousness of the situation


Last year, Commission Chairman Sir Ian Kennedy called on NHS trusts to raise standards in their maternity services to those of the best.  He drew on the similarities between Northwick Park and two other trusts where maternity services had been investigated.

Press release ~ Second Report on Northwick Park Hospital ~ Related documents ~ Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) ~ Royal College of Midwives


DCLG:  Will ‘six of the best’ curb anti-social behaviour? -The importance of strong housing management in tackling anti-social behaviour and creating a community culture of respect is claimed to be at the centre of a new Government 'Standard' aimed at council and housing association landlords.


The Respect Standard for Housing Management standard outlines the six core components essential to delivering an effective response to anti-social behaviour and building stronger communities:

·         Accountability, leadership, and commitment

·         Empowering and reassuring residents

·         Prevention and early intervention

·         Tailored services for residents and provision of support for victims and witnesses

·         Protecting Communities through swift enforcement

·         Support to tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour


The Government will be encouraging residents to get engaged and hold their landlord to account.


The Audit Commission, who carry out inspections of landlords, are also looking to strengthen their guidelines to landlords on what they expect a good landlord to be achieving in tackling anti-social behaviour and have launched a consultation exercise on changes to the way it inspects tenancy and estate management services in housing organisations (closes on 29 September 2006).

Press release ~ Respect Standard for housing management ~ Respect ~ Housing Corporation ~ Audit Commission ~ Respect and Housing Management – Using Good Neighbour Agreements


Forthcoming EventIQ Boot Camp – essential skills for e-government



**15% Discount for WGPlus subscribers**


Learn the essential skills you need to improve your website and serve your citizens better at iQ Boot Camp. The 3-day conference for web, information and IT professionals features:

Previous attendees said:

“Very high quality. Intelligent training and very strong back up with resources and examples” - Dept for Education & Skills

“Very useful templates. Excellent examples and good humour” – The Cabinet Office

"Excellent training course - well worth the money and time invested in it." – The Highways Agency


Other attendees include: Dept for Work and Pensions, Dept for International Development, Information Commissioner, Legal Services Commission, Manchester City Council, The Local Government Association and The National Library of Scotland.


For more information, and to register, visit http://www.iqcontent.com/events/bootcamp/  To receive your 15% discount, simply enter ‘WGPLUS’ as your coupon code, when registering online.

Further information ~ DRC report: The Web: Access and Inclusion for Disabled People ~ Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 ~ RNIB web access centre ~ The Business Case for Web Accessibility ~ Essential Components of Web Accessibility ~ Internet Plain English Crystal Mark ~ How to write an effective web design brief (presentation) ~ LSE - Writing for the web ~ Internet Search basics ~ Google Analytics



For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar



For the latest Industry News please click HERE

General News

CSPL:  The Committee on Standards in Public Life has welcomed the recommendation from the Public Administration Select Committee that an independent investigatory mechanism should be introduced for alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code.


The recommendation is contained in the PASC report - The Ministerial Code: the case for independent investigation.

Press release ~ Committee on Standards in Public Life ~ Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Ninth Report ~ Public Administration Select Committee ~ The Ministerial Code: the case for independent investigation ~ Cabinet Office – Ministerial Code ~ Ministerial Code note


Cabinet Office:  The Cabinet Office has launched the first Technology in Business Fast Stream for the Civil Service, which will provide an entry route for talented graduates interested in delivering technology-enabled change within the public sector.


They will be selected for their potential to become future Chief Information Officers or leaders of large scale, IT-enabled business change.  Successful candidates will be placed in a leading central government department and will be provided with foundation and ongoing training & development.  


They will have a formal mentor to support their career development and will have the opportunity to meet & work with key technology leaders across the wider public sector.  Full information about the Technology in Business Fast Stream will be available on the IT Profession website in September.  Applicants should apply online between 18th September and 30th November 2006.

Press release ~ Government IT Profession ~ Technology in Business Fast Stream ~ Civil Service Fast Stream

Scottish Executive:  The Scottish Schools Digital Network National Intranet (SSDN) has been re-branded as 'Glow'.  The new name was chosen because on many levels it is believed it matches the objectives & aspirations of the national intranet, which will ultimately digitally link Scotland's schools, connecting over 800,000 teachers and pupils safely & securely.


Glow is intended to be ‘fun, bright and hopeful - yet it is simple and accessible to all’.  The idea is that pupils will find Glow easy to spell & remember while teachers are intended to see it as a pool of resources that can help to make lessons more interesting & interactive.


Visitors to the Scottish Learning Festival (20 - 21 September) will be able to get their first look at an early version of Glow as well as the opportunity to attend seminars to find out more.  Developing, testing and piloting of Glow is currently underway, with initial roll out to schools planned to start in mid 2007.

Press release ~ Scottish Schools Digital Network National Intranet (SSDN) / Glow  ~ Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) ~ Scottish Learning Festival ~ RM


OGC Buying Solutions:  St. Mary’s NHS Trust in Paddington has become the first in a consortium of 17 NHS Trusts to connect to its suppliers via the Zanzibar Managed Service and to realise the benefits of ‘OGCbuying.solutions’ online procurement marketplace, including generating estimated savings of over £4 million pounds over the next five years.


The Zanzibar Managed Service is a web-enabled Purchase to Pay system and eMarketplace available to all public sector organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is a key part of the Government's procurement strategy.


This system enables public sector buyers and their suppliers to link up over the internet and transact end-to-end requisitions, orders and invoices.

Press release ~ OGCbuying.solutions ~ PA Shared Services Limited ~ CedarOpenAccounts ~ Zanzibar Managed Service


DWP:  Following extensive negotiations that began back in 2002, the text of a Human Rights Convention for disabled people has been agreed at the United Nations.  The purpose of the UN Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full & equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their dignity.


It is intended to promote the participation of and respect for disabled people in a wide range of areas of society, and covers aspects such as:

·         Living independently and being included in the community

·         Equality & non-discrimination

·         The position of disabled women & children

·         Access to justice

·         Education

·         Health

·         Work & employment

·         Participation in political and public life

·         Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure & sport

·         International cooperation

Press release ~ Draft Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ~ BBC - At-a-glance: UN disability treaty ~ Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities


DH:  New arrangements for the supply and delivery of healthcare related products to the NHS will ‘save £1bn which can be reinvested in frontline patient services’, Health Minister Andy Burnham has claimed.


The outsourcing covers NHS Logistics and parts of the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA) and the business operations, including 1,650 staff, will transfer to DHL on 1 October 2006.


The outsourcing means that DHL will be the agent on behalf of the NHS and the new service will be known as NHS Supply Chain and remain part of the NHS 'family', being managed on behalf of the NHS by the NHS Business Services Authority.  The blue and white NHS emblem will appear on uniforms, at distribution centres and on all vehicles.

Press release ~ Supply Chain Excellence Programme (SCEP) ~ NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency ~ NHS Business Services Authority ~ NHS Logistics


FCO:  The UK government has welcomed the adoption of the Counter Terrorism strategy by UN General Assembly.  The UN Secretary-General issued his report, ‘Uniting against terrorism: recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy’ on 27 April 2006.


It sets out the 5 "D"s that the international community should pursue in order to counter terrorism:

·         Dissuading people from resorting to terrorism or supporting it

·         Denying terrorists the means to carry out attacks

·         Deterring States from supporting terrorist groups

·         Developing State capacity to prevent terrorism

·         Defending human rights

Press release ~ UN Counter Terrorism strategy ~ Uniting against terrorism: recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy’ ~ Home Office Counter Terrorism ~ EU Counter Terrorism Strategy ~ Counter-Terrorism Legislation and Practice: A Survey of Selected Countries ~ G8 Gleneagles


Policy Statements and Initiatives

Home Office:  A new campaign aimed at giving prostitutes a confidential route to report sexual and violent crimes to the police has been launched.


The Crimestoppers ‘STOP’ campaign, funded by the Home Office and supported by the police and the specialist projects working with women & men involved in prostitution, aims to encourage those in the sex industry to report crimes to Crimestoppers.   This information can then be passed to the police and also shared with others at risk in the area.


This campaign is based on the successful ‘ugly mugs’ scheme, where those involved in prostitution share information about violent men through local specialist support services. Leaflets & posters highlighting Crimestoppers’ anonymous helpline and the importance of sharing information will be distributed to specialist support services in England and Wales.

Press release ~ The Prostitution Strategy ~ Most Wanted website ~ Nation follows Tees lead ~ Suzy Lamplugh Trust ~ Home Office - Tackling Street Prostitution: Towards an holistic approach


DH:  Figures published by the Department of Health show that nearly a third of men will be obese by 2010, along with more than 12 million adults overall and one million children, if we don't start to make changes as a nation to our lifestyles.


Other findings showed that:

·         Nearly 20% of girls aged 2-10 are expected to be obese in 2010

·         Nearly a third of men will be obese by 2010

·         In households with two obese parents, 1 child in 4 is obese, compared to 1 child in 8 in households where one parents is obese and 1 in 20 where no parents are obese

Press release ~ 'Forecasting Obesity to 2010' ~ Health Survey for England: Obesity among children under 11 ~ Choosing Health White Paper ~ 'Small Change Big Difference' ~ Teachernet – Physical Education ~ Obesity Care Pathway and Your Weight, Your Health ~ DH Obesity website  ~ Measuring childhood obesity: Guidance to PCTs on data handling ~ Local Exercise Action Pilots (LEAPs)


DfES:  Education Secretary Alan Johnson has named the first schools working towards acquiring a Trust and also announced the appointment of the Schools Commissioner.


Trust schools are maintained (state funded) schools supported by a charitable Trust, which are similar to Voluntary Aided (VA) and foundation schools that are supported by a charitable foundation - the Trust holds the school's assets on trust for the school, the governing body employs staff and sets admissions arrangements (in accordance with the Schools Admissions Code).


Legislation to establish Trust schools (the Education and Inspections Bill) is currently passing through Parliament.  Royal Assent is expected in November 2006, with regulations made in early summer 2007.


Sir Bruce Liddington has been appointed as the Schools Commissioner and his role will be to:

·         oversee the delivery of Trust schools

·         help to match the right schools with the right partners and

·         offer advice and support throughout the process

Press release ~  DfES - Trust Schools website ~ GovernorNet – Trust Schools ~ Teachernet – Trust Schools ~ Comment from NUT ~ Education and Inspections Bill (click on ‘E’ and scroll down) ~ Timesonline article – Absence of Trust ~ Trust Schools and Governance


DfES:  The Education and Skills Secretary Alan Johnson claims that the government is going to initiate the ‘biggest improvement in support for teachers since introduction of Literacy Hour which will mean children master the basics faster’.


Teachers will be given new guidance & additional training to make phonics their prime approach to early reading and children will learn their times tables a year earlier as part of a comprehensive package of measures to promote even faster progress in English and maths.


The revised Primary Framework for Literacy and Mathematics will be available to teachers and practitioners before half term.

Press release ~ Primary National Strategy - Framework Review ~ Rose Review ~ Core Papers



DfES:  The DfES is consulting (closes 1 December 2006) on new proposals intended to ensure that no child should be disadvantaged by unfair admissions practice & criteria and that every parent should know the basis on which their child will be admitted to a school.  The new Code will apply to admissions in September 2008.


The Education and Inspections Bill, currently before Parliament, will place a statutory duty on school admissions authorities, local authorities, admission forums, school governing bodies, admission appeal panels and adjudicators ‘to act in accordance with’ the new Code.  


This means that they must comply with its mandatory provisions and closes a legal loophole that allowed schools to circumvent the Code - up until now they have only had to ‘have regard to it’.  The Bill will also outlaw interviewing as part of a school's admissions arrangements, although parents are still encouraged to visit prospective schools and to meet the head teacher.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Current guidelines ~ Draft Skeleton Admissions Code April 2006 ~ Education and Inspections Bill


Defra:  A draft report - Trends in Primary Nitrogen Dioxide in the UK - investigating unexpected trends in roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations and possible links with changes in vehicle technologies has been published for consultation (closes 7 November 2006) by the Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG).


The report was commissioned by Defra in January 2006 to consider why, despite significant falls in annual mean concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in urban areas over recent years, concentrations of NO2 (a component of NOx) at roadsides have not declined as expected.

Press release ~ Consultation documents - Trends in Primary Nitrogen Dioxide in the UK ~ Nitrogen Dioxide in the United Kingdom ~ Air Quality Expert Group ~ Defra Air quality website ~ Air Quality Archive


Defra:  Proposals to introduce a new electronic online data system for the packaging industry have been issued for consultation by Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Executive (closes 17 November 2006).  The consultation also contains a number of proposed technical changes to the current regulations.


The packaging Regulations have increased packaging waste recycling from around 27% in 1997 to more than 54% in 2005 (almost 6.2 million tonnes last year) significantly reducing the amount of packaging waste going to landfill.

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Defra waste packaging website ~ Waste packaging links ~ DTI ~ Waste online ~ Reducing Packaging Costs


Defra:  People should be better able to prevent the damage caused by England's growing wild deer populations under proposed changes to deer protection laws according to Biodiversity Minister Barry Gardiner.


People are being asked for their views (by 24 October 2006) on proposed changes including:

·         Allowing smaller calibre rifles to be used to shoot the smaller species of deer

·         Allowing any reasonable & humane means of destroying deer that are suffering due to injuries or disease, and for dependent young to be humanely killed if their mother has died or been killed

·         Reducing the close season by two weeks;

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Defra Deer website ~ Association of Deer Management Groups ~ Deer Study & Resource Centre ~ The Deer Initiative


CC:  The Competition Commission has published for consultation (closes 8 September 2006) its proposed remedies designed to increase competition in the home credit market.  Home credit refers to the supply of small loans, repayments for which are then collected in instalments (often weekly or fortnightly) from the customer's home.


In its provisional findings report published in April, the CC concluded that the lack of competition in the home credit market means that customers face paying higher prices and it outlined a number of possible remedies to increase competition in the market.


The proposed remedies have been published so that interested parties have a further opportunity to comment before the CC publishes its report (currently planned for October), which will include the decision on the remedy measures to be introduced.

Press release ~ Proposed remedies document ~ Competition Commission ~ CAB ~ Community Legal Services Direct – Dealing with debt ~ DTI – Over-indebtedness ~ OFT – Be choosy about credit ~ What’s the best way to borrow? ~ JRF - Affordable credit: The way forward ~ Social Fund


BSA:  In accordance with the Welsh Language Act 1993, the Basic Skills Agency (BSA) has prepared a draft Welsh Language Scheme which sets out how it proposes to deliver services to the public in Welsh under Section 13 of the Act.


The BSA has a duty to issue the draft Scheme for public consultation (closes 10 November 2006);in order to ascertain views representative of both Welsh speaking and other members of the public who may be affected by the scheme’.

Press release ~ draft Welsh Language Scheme ~ Welsh Language Act 1993 ~ The National Basic Skills Strategy document for Wales (2001) 


FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has recently issued a consultation paper (there are 2 closure dates – see document) outlining a new proposal to merge the customer functions in the approved persons regime in response to feedback from the industry. This feedback from retail and wholesale firms follows the publication of a consultation paper in July 2005 detailing a series of proposals to streamline and simplify the Handbook.


The consultation paper also sets out the implications of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive for the approved persons regime; reminds firms that it is their responsibility to carry out appropriate checks on their employees, and clarifies aspects of the FSA's approval process.

Press release ~ Reforming the Approved Persons Regime: Consultation and Feedback to CP 05/10 ~ Consultation paper 05/10 Reviewing the Handbook

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

English Nature: A new guide to help road designers ensure their work helps the survival of Britain's butterflies has been published.  The new Butterfly Handbook has been jointly funded by the Highways Agency and English Nature to provide a valuable reference manual for conservationists and highways engineers around the world.


The guide:

·         shows engineers how to approach road design from an ecological point of view and

·         suggests how special features such as habitat design & planting can be incorporated into road schemes to protect and attract butterflies

Press release ~ Butterfly Handbook (VLF 1.7Mb) ~ Highways Agency – Protecting the Environment ~ English Nature ~ Butterfly Conservation charity ~ UK Biodiversity Action Plan ~ British Butterflies – photographic guide ~ Natural History Museum


DH:  A government drive has been launched to improve the physical fitness of people with mental illness as people with severe mental illness have much worse levels of physical health, being almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease as the general population and 4 times more likely to die from respiratory disease


Guidance has been published to help local commissioners design services that improve the physical wellbeing of MH patients and £7 million has been provided for the 88 spearhead PCTs to employ 'well-being nurses'.

Press release ~ Choosing Health: Supporting the physical needs of people with severe mental illness - commissioning framework ~ 2004 White Paper Choosing Health  ~ From Values to Action: The Chief Nursing Officer's review of mental health nursing ~ Mentality ~ DH Mental Health website ~ Self-assessment toolkit - From values to action: The Chief Nursing Officer’s review  ~ DH Obesity website


Home Office:  New guidance from the Home Office sets out good practice advice for organisers of carnivals, charity & small-scale sporting events.  It has been designed to ensure that such events are as safe as possible for the public and participants.


The Good Practice Safety Guide shows professional & amateur organisers of smaller scale events how to set up events, carry out a risk assessment and ensure that fire & safety requirements are met.  It also advises on local authority requirements, the use of stewards and when to involve the police.

Press release ~ The Good Practice Safety Guide for small events and sporting events on highways, roads, and in public places ~ Warrington event safety guide ~ Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002


HSE:  Don't take a gamble with your life’ is the message to maintenance workers from Steve Coldrick, Director of the Health and Safety Executive's Disease Reduction Programme.


These workers, including plumbers, carpenters and builders, account for more than one quarter of the 35,000 asbestos-related cancer deaths each year and to raise their awareness of the dangers of working with asbestos, the HSE has launched its "Don't take the gamble" campaign.


More than half a million non-domestic premises and houses still contain some form of the material, posing a real threat to unwary maintenance workers and the campaign also reminds dutyholders of their obligations under asbestos law.


Dutyholders are those responsible for the maintenance and repair of non-domestic buildings, either through a contract or tenancy agreement, or because they own the building.  Under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations, dutyholders have to manage the risk from asbestos in their buildings.

Press release ~ HSE Asbestos website ~ Don't take the gamble ~ Mesothelioma – Estimating the future burden ~ Mesothelioma Occupation Statistics: Male and Female Deaths aged 16 - 74 in Great Britain 1980 - 2000 (excluding 1981) ~ Mesothelioma Cancer ~ Disease Reduction Programme ~ Chartered Institute of Environmental Health ~ Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering ~ Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations

Annual Reports

DTI:  The third cross-government Over-Indebtedness Annual Report outlines actions for the Government, the credit industry and consumer groups to help people struggling with debts.


Claimed progress made as a result of the cross-Government action plan to tackle over-indebtedness, includes:

·         introduction of Consumer Credit Act 2006 with new laws to improve responsible lending & borrowing

·         the success of the loan shark investigation teams in removing illegal money lenders from the streets

·         the launch of Debt Test, an online self-assessment tool to improve financial capability, and

·         new measures to provide breathing space for those who want to repay their debts proposed in the draft Tribunals, Courts, and Enforcement Bill

Press release ~ Over-indebtedness annual report ~ DTI Over-indebtedness website ~ DTI's Over-indebtedness Action Plan ~ Consumer Credit Act 2006 ~ Dealing with Loan Sharks ~ FSA - Money Doctors ~ Tribunals, Courts, and Enforcement Bill ~ 'Money Box' initiative ~ Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme ~ Debt Test ~ FSA Financial Healthcheck ~ Financial inclusion ~ Community Legal Services Direct – Dealing with debt ~ National Debtline  ~ Debt ~ What’s the problem?


HSE:  The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has published the annual fatal injury statistics showing the lowest fatal injury number on record.  In 2005/2006 212 people were fatally injured, a reduction from 223 in 2004/2005 giving a rate of 0.71 fatalities per 100,000 workers.  The figures also contain a comparison across Europe, which shows Great Britain as having the lowest fatal injury rate in Europe, a rate of 1.1 worker per 100,000.


The reporting of health and safety incidents at work is a statutory requirement, set out under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).


Falls from height remain the most common cause of fatal injury and two industries, construction and agriculture account for just under half of all fatal injuries.

HSE press release ~ DWP press release ~ Statistics of fatal injuries 2005/06 ~ Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) ~ HSE - RIDDOR explained ~ Falls from Height


DH:  Health Minister Andy Burnham has praised the progress of over 60% of hospitals that had a patient environment rated as 'Good' or 'Excellent' in 2006 in inspections carried out by Patient Environment Action Teams (PEAT), while acknowledging that there is still work to be done.

Press release ~ Latest PEAT scores ~ DH - Healthcare Environment ~ Improving the patient experience ~ Clean Hospitals

General Reports and other publications

HC:  The Healthcare Commission has called for further improvement in NHS diagnostic services following a national review, which found improvements in many areas of diagnostic services, but it also found wide variations in performance including unacceptable waits for scans at some hospitals.


The Commission warns that delays in diagnostic services such as x-rays and scans could hinder some trusts in meeting the Government’s target of a maximum of 18-weeks wait from referral to treatment.


The review looked at three types of diagnostic services: imaging (x-rays and scans), endoscopy (examinations of the bowel and stomach) and pathology (tests on blood and tissue samples)


Key findings include:

·         Waiting times for imaging services are improving but there are wide variations in performance across the country.

·         Wide variations in trusts’ waiting times for endoscopies

·         Variation in how imaging exams are reported

·         Improvement needed in recording of success rates for colonoscopies

·         Variation in speed of urgent pathology tests

·         Endoscopy units need to do more to ensure that their services are focused on the patient

Press release ~ Results of this review for individual trusts ~ Acute hospital portfolio - diagnostic services 2005/2006 ~ Next steps on Choice and Scan ~ Choice of scan programme


HC:  The Healthcare Commission is publishing findings of a review of 157 hospitals across England, which assesses progress on a number of elements from the hospital standard of the National Service Framework for Children and Young People, launched by the Government in 2003.


The review looks at areas where trusts should have already made improvements:

·         treatment of children in child specific and child friendly environments

·         provision of services for children as locally as possible

·         appropriate cover from a range of staff trained in the needs of children

·         training of staff in essential skills

·         maintaining of staff skills through sufficient contact with child cases


Only 25% of trusts assessed received a rating of “excellent” or “good” and Trusts in these categories are making good progress on improving their services for children.  The majority (70%) of trusts reviewed are only rated as fair.

Press release ~ Individual trust reports ~ National Service Framework for Children and Young People ~ Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry ~ DH – Children’s Services


Defra:  A government investigation into allegations against parts of the paper packaging waste industry has uncovered 'inappropriate practices' by a number of exporters.


No evidence of fraud was identified, but according to investigators they found numerous examples of incorrect administrative practices, which tended to suggest that the tonnages of packaging waste reported to have been exported in recent years were higher than they perhaps should have been.

Press release ~ Paper packaging waste fact finding mission report  ~ Related Documents ~ Confederation of Paper Industries ~ Advisory Committee on Packaging


ESRC:  Access to and the use of finance in the UK are seen as major barriers preventing more women from developing successful businesses.  However, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, found no evidence that banks deliberately discriminate against women business owners, but it is calling for changes in the training of bank loan officers, small business advisers and women entrepreneurs.


Only 15% of businesses are women-owned and the 26% share of self-employed women has not changed in 15 years.  This modest record contrasts sharply with other countries, particularly the USA where female self-employment has risen each year since 1976 and currently stands at a share of 39.6%.


The research suggested that lending decisions by individual bank loan officers can reflect biased gender perceptions & opinions.  It also found that bias is just as likely among male and female officers.

Press release ~ Securing a Business Loan: How Important is Gender? ~ Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) ~ Women’s Business Network (North West) ~ Women doing Business ~ Women’s Business development agency ~ Women into the network ~ Onewomanbusiness ~ Everywoman ~ Female FTSE Index ~ Diversity Best Practice in the corporate world: A guide to business (VLF 5.3Mb v slow to load)


ESRC:  Being a father has little effect on men’s working patterns, in spite of the fact that they cut back their working hours for a short time after a new child is born, according to Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research at the University of Bristol.


The findings suggest that current policies to encourage work-life balance don’t take account of how fathers want to adapt their routines to fit in with family life.  What they want is not to work fewer hours, but rather have the ability to control their working hours so that they can leave early to go to school functions or parents’ meetings.


Further findings suggest that the focus on fatherhood as an influence of men’s employment has been overplayed; fathers do not have shorter working hours than non-fathers, nor do they see this as a problem.

Press release ~ The Effect of Fatherhood on Men’s Patterns of Employment ~ Economic and Social Research Council ~ DTI - Work and Families Act 2006 ~ Working Families ~ Business Link ~ Acas Flexible working ~ Results of the Second Flexible Working Employee Survey 2005


King’s Fund:  The national strategy for cancer services should be revised to take account of technology developments and the ageing population, according to a recent report - Future Trends and Challenges for Cancer Services in England - published by the King’s Fund.


The report - which is a review of literature & policy as well as a set of interviews - points to evidence showing that demographical, technological and policy changes are having significant effects on cancer services and will lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer.


The proportion of over 65s in the population will grow from 16% in 2004 to 23% by 2031, increasing the number of people who develop cancer in older age.  New treatments, better screening and earlier diagnosis will result in more people living as cancer survivors and the Cancer Plan must evolve to reflect these facts, the report says.

Press release ~ Future Trends and Challenges for Cancer Services in England: A review of literature and policy ~ The NHS cancer plan and the new NHS: Providing a patient-centred service ~ Cancer 2020 campaign ~ Cancer Research UK ~ DH Cancer website


DWP:  Teenagers from deprived communities across the UK have been telling Government Ministers how they think child poverty should be tackled.  The 20 teenagers, from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England and from all kinds of different backgrounds, were chosen by their communities to take part in a two-day workshop where they met Ministers and leading figures from child poverty campaign groups.


The DWP has also published two reports which highlight a number of strands within the New Deal for Lone Parents programmes such as the In Work Benefit Calculations (IWBC) and Work Focused Interviews (WFIs).

Press release ~ New Deal for Lone Parents ~ Lone Parents Work Focused Interviews/New Deal for Lone Parents: Combined Evaluation and Further Net Impacts (VVLF 3.7Mb) ~ Lone parents: In work benefit calculations - work and benefit outcomes


English Nature:  A new report Natural Foundations, published jointly by English Nature, the Countryside Agency and Rural Development Service, celebrates England's rich geological heritage and calls for geodiversity to be placed at the heart of managing the environment.


Geodiversity (rocks, fossils, minerals, landforms, landscapes, geological processes and soils) is a fundamental environmental asset but it is one of the least recognised and valued.

Press release ~ Natural foundations: geodiversity for people, places and nature ~ English Nature ~ Countryside Agency ~ Rural Development Service ~ Natural England

Legislation / Legal

CICFA:  The Concerted Inter-Agency Criminal Finances Action Group has published: Proceeds of Crime Update - Issue No 73

Press release ~ Assets Recovery Agency ~ Regional Asset Recovery Team ~ Proceeds of Crime Act 2002


Home Office:  The possession of violent and extreme pornographic material will become a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison under proposed new laws announced by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker.


The Government will legislate to make it an offence to possess pornographic images depicting scenes of extreme sexual violence and other obscene material.  This will include, for example, the sort of material featuring violence that is, or appears to be, life threatening or is likely to result in serious and disabling injury.


The Government is also proposing that the maximum penalty for the offences of publication, distribution and possession for gain committed under the Obscene Publications Acts will be increased from three years to five years' imprisonment.

Press release ~ Consultation paper On the possession of extreme pornographic material - summary of responses and next steps ~ Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre ~ Home Office – Sexual Offences website

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Defra:  Following consultation with the horse industry about a proposed EU Regulation on the identification of equidae (horses, donkeys, etc), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is putting its comments to the European Commission, including that the implementation date for the Regulation coming into force (which is currently 1 January 2007) should be put back to 1 January 2010


The draft Regulation consolidates the existing legislation on the identification of equidae, but includes an additional requirement for all foals to be identified by a microchip.  The current requirements for England are laid out in the Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2004.

Press release ~ Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2004 ~ Defra – Horse Tracing and Identification ~ British Horse Industry Confederation response to consultation

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC:  The Independent Complaints Reviewer for the Charity Commission has published her report into the complaints against the Commission she reviewed in 2005-06 and the Charity Commission has responded.

Press release ~ Seeking a fair resolution ~ Cause for Complaint?


CC:  The Charity Commission has announced a formal inquiry has been launched into the charity Crescent Relief and its bank accounts frozen, following recent allegations of links between Crescent Relief and terrorist abuse of charitable funds.


The inquiry will focus on whether or not the charity's funds, or funds raised on its behalf, were used unlawfully.  It will also consider the financial policies and practices of the charity.

Press release ~ Crescent Relief


CC:  The Charity Commission and The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) have formally announced they were joining together as the new joint SORP-making body for charities in the UK.


The Charities SORP - Accounting and Reporting by Charities is a Statement of Recommended Practice providing accounting & reporting recommendations for charities throughout the UK.


It provides an authoritative interpretation of the application of accounting standards for charities and sets specific recommendations on how to account for sector specific transactions.


Recruitment packs for those interested in joining the SORP Committee can be downloaded from the Charity Commission's and OSCR's websites.

Press release ~ Charity Commission - The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) ~ Accounting Standards Board ~ Recruitment pack

Business and other briefings

DCLG:  The Local Government Minister Phil Woolas has confirmed that he has laid the Non-Domestic Rating (Small Business Rate Relief) (Amendment) (England) Order 2006 before Parliament


Under the revised small business rate relief scheme, ratepayers eligible for the relief will be required to apply for the financial year 2007/08 and will not be required to apply again until the next revaluation (financial year 2010/11) provided their circumstances have not changed in that period.  Where circumstances have changed, the ratepayer will be required to notify the relevant local billing authority of the change.


The scheme gives 50% rate relief for properties with rateable values up to £5,000, tapering off for properties with higher rateable values, with no relief for properties above £10,000 rateable value.

Press release ~ Statutory Instrument ~ Explanatory Memorandum ~ Business Rates


DWP:  Pension provisions, forming part of the Government's new age-discrimination legislation, will not now come into force until 1st December 2006.  The provisions form part of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations that come into force on 1st October this year and the additional period will give schemes more time to adjust to the new regulations following significant activity in the pensions sector.


It will also allow a short informal consultation period to assess whether any amendments are required to provide greater clarity for schemes and employers.

Press release ~ Employment Equality (Age) Regulations ~ White Paper Security in Retirement: towards a new pensions system


Pensions Regulator:  Two new modules aimed at trustees of defined benefit schemes are now available online as part of the Pensions Regulator's free e-learning programme for pension trustees:

·         In 'How a DB scheme works' trustees learn how benefits accrue, how they are calculated and what trustees should consider if a scheme is in deficit.

·         The 'Funding your scheme' module covers the implications of the requirement to meet the statutory funding objective, different ways to measure liabilities and the funding position of the scheme.

Press release ~ Trustee Toolkit ~ Pensions Regulator


Pensions Regulator:  The Pensions Regulator has published guidance on member-nominated trustees and directors arrangements to accompany the code of practice recently laid before Parliament.


Under the Pensions Act 2004 trustees are required to ensure that arrangements are in place, and implemented, for at least one third of trustees to be member-nominated; or at least one third of directors of the trustee company to be member-nominated.


The arrangements must include a nomination process, a selection process and other statutory requirements and the guidance sets out which requirements may apply to certain schemes, the commencement date of these requirements, and transitional arrangements for schemes which had arrangements under the Pensions Act 1995.

Press release ~ Guidance ~ Code of practice 'Member-nominated trustees and directors - putting arrangements in place'


Pensions Regulator:  The Pensions Regulator has published an in-depth survey (Report on Governance Survey) into the way UK pension schemes are run, which found that while many schemes are well-governed, a 'significant minority' revealed shortcomings in important areas of good practice, including:

·         70% of defined benefit schemes have no specific policy to manage conflicts of interest

·         37% of defined benefit schemes do not review sponsoring employers' credit rating

·         20% of all schemes with a main provider of administrative services have no SLA with their administrator.

Press release ~ Governance report ~ Technical Appendices


HMRC:  New rates of interest on direct and indirect taxes and national insurance contributions paid late and overpaid have been announced.  These new rates of interest, which took effect from 6 September 2006, are a result of the recent movement in market rates and cover:

·         Income tax, national insurance contributions, capital gains tax, stamp duties etc.

·         Petroleum revenue tax, advance corporation tax etc.

·         Inheritance tax etc.

·         Corporation tax

·         rates of default interest

Press release


HMRC:  VAT Business Brief 12/06


·         VAT: Partial Exemption - VAT deduction by theatres on production costs

·         VAT: Position following the Court of Appeal judgment in Compass Contract Services Limited

Press release ~ Business Briefs 2006 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)


HMRC:  VAT Business Brief 13/06


·         VAT: 3-Year Cap on making claims - Court of Appeal Judgment in Michael Fleming t/a Bodycraft

·         VAT: 3-Year Cap on making claims - Court of Appeal Judgment in Conde Nast Publications Ltd

Press release ~ Business Briefs 2006 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

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