DH:  Allowing people to grow old gracefully – The government have launched a national campaign to place dignity & respect at the heart of caring for older people, backed by a £67 million grant to improve the environment of care homes across the country.  The campaign, designed to raise the profile of respecting people's dignity, also features:

·         The Dignity Challenge - a 10-point plan of what constitutes a service that respects dignity

·         A network of local champions of dignity - volunteers working to raise the profile of dignity in care locally

·         The Dignity in Care Practice Guide designed to help front-line workers & commissioners, as well as older people themselves and their carers, to take up the Dignity Challenge

·         a review of national policies including: safeguarding vulnerable adults, complaints reforms, training & registration of the workforce and improving the care environment


On 8 November 2006 the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act received Royal Assent.  The Act lays the foundation for a new vetting & barring scheme which will be phased in from Autumn 2008.


The campaign includes two further Dignity in Care network events in Birmingham (January 2007) and Leeds (March 2007), as well as the introduction of a Beacon Council Award for Dignity in Care.

DH press release ~ HC press release ~ Vetting and barring ~  Healthcare Commission report on services for older people  ~ National dignity in care campaign ~ DH – Dignity in Care ~ The Dignity Challenge ~ Local champions of dignity ~ Dignity in Care Practice Guide ~ DH - Vulnerable Adults ~ Action on Elder Abuse (AEA)  ~ Age Concern


Home Office:  Just in time to provide ‘fair’ justice for missing Christmas ‘pack(ages)’?  - New legislation to enable the most serious & complex fraud trials to be heard by a judge alone has been published in the Fraud (Trials without a Jury) Bill. 


At present, in some of the most serious & complicated fraud cases, it is not possible for defendants to be tried on charges that adequately reflect the full scale of the accusations against them.  This is because in cases that involve a multitude of different offences & defendants, it is necessary to limit the amount of evidence that is put before a jury.


In spite of attempts to keep trials within reasonable grounds, complex and serious cases can often drag on for months - imposing an intolerable burden on jurors.  At times these trials collapse, wasting millions of pounds and failing to ensure justice for victims.


Existing legislation (section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003) allows the prosecution in a complex & serious fraud case to apply to the judge for the trial to take place without a jury.  However, the Act requires that these provisions cannot be implemented until an affirmative resolution is passed by both Houses.


The new Bill would remove the requirement for an affirmative resolution.  It would also require the application and the trial itself to be dealt with by a High Court judge if the application is successful.

Press release ~ Fraud (Trials without a Jury) Bill ~ Serious Fraud Office ~ Guide to Witnesses in SFO Trials ~ Fraud Advisory Panel’s views ~ Control and Management of Heavy Fraud and other complex criminal cases ~ Related news item ~ The Fraud review


DfES:  Scratching the surface of adult mathematical skills - Skills Minister Phil Hope paid tribute to the numeracy skills of the nation's 46,000 stallholders when launching a partnership with the National Market Traders Federation at London's Church St market to deliver the DfES’s numeracy drive from its Get On campaign.


'Get On' branded plastic shopping bags will be given away by stallholders together with scratch cards to help customer's agility totting up sums.


The 2003 Skills for Life National Needs and Impact Survey of Literacy, Numeracy and IT skills, estimated that in England:

·         5.2 million adults aged 16-65 have literacy levels below Level 1 (the level expected of 11 year olds)

·         14.9 million have numeracy skills below this level

Press release ~ The importance of basic skills for adults  ~ National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) ~ Church Street and Bell Street Markets ~ Skills for Life Strategy (VLF 1.3Mb) ~ Get On campaign ~ Skills for Life National Needs and Impact Survey of Literacy, Numeracy and IT skills ~ National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIfESR) - Impact of skills for Learning ~ Basic Skills Agency ~ Sector Skills Councils ~ Quick Reads ~ World Book Day ~ Adult Learners Week ~ The Vital Link ~ RAW (Reading and Writing campaign) ~ DfES White Paper: Skills Getting on in business, getting on at work ~ Widening adult participation in learning: A systematic review of strategies


Met Office:   Met Office gives a précis of what the future holds - Hard on the heels of Prof. Sir Nicholas Stern's report into the economic cost of climate change, Met Office Hadley Centre scientists were in Nairobi recently to meet colleagues from around the world, to discuss current research.


One area of the Met Office's work this year has been to investigate the impacts of climate change on developing countries, where worldwide damage to the environment could be most acutely felt.  A report titled Effects of climate change on developing countries summarises these findings.


Extreme drought is likely to increase from under 3% of the globe today to 30% by 2100 - areas affected by severe drought could see a five-fold increase from 8% to 40%.  However, there are some likely positive effects of climate change; for example, reduced drought & potential increased crop yield in a limited number of places.


Many of the detailed results were produced by scientists from around the world using PRECIS, a regional climate modelling system developed by the Met Office to run on personal computers.  Over 190 users in more than 60 countries currently use the system.

Press release ~ Effects of climate change on developing countries ~ PRECIS ~ Hadley Centre: climate change reports ~ United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ~ Energy Saving Trust ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme ~ WWF UK Climate change website ~ United Nations Development Programme – Energy & the environment ~ Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey ~ Defra: Working with developing countries - China ~ Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change


Defra:  Proof that males are cooler than females! - The UK-funded international report, Migratory Species and Climate Change: Impacts of a changing environment on wild animals, says unprecedented changes in climate will affect wildlife and their habitats - both directly through changes in temperature & precipitation and indirectly through disturbances such as fires, hurricanes and storms.


On average, many species have moved 6.1km per decade towards the poles or 1 metre per decade in elevation, while spring events like flowering and leaf flushing are occurring on average 2.3 days earlier per decade - in turn affecting seasonal movement of wildlife.


Winter green species like English holly could double their range by 2050, while marine turtles in the Asia Pacific region need nest temperatures of 25-32C to breed successfully and within that range their sex is determined by the temperature.


Cooler beaches produce more male turtles, while warmer sands result predominantly in females.  Conservation managers are applying innovative measures to reduce the effects of the warmer climate on turtles, including using lighter coloured sand to reduce the effect of rising temperatures.

Press release ~ Migratory Species and Climate Change: Impacts of a changing environment on wild animals (VLF 2.5Mb) ~ Defra - Bonn Convention on Migratory Species  ~ CoMS website ~ UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Nairobi


CRE:  The best years of your life? - The Commission for Racial Equality has submitted its views to the Good Childhood Inquiry, focusing on issues which disproportionately affect children from ethnic minority communities.


The CRE is strongly urging the Inquiry to look specifically at the experiences of ethnic minority children when exploring the conditions for a good childhood and the obstacles to those conditions.

Press release ~ Good Childhood Inquiry ~ Good Childhood Inquiry: CRE submission


For Industry News please click HERE


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

General News

Defra:   The Government has called on the egg industry and retailers to ensure that the eggs they are selling are correctly labelled following investigations by Defra into alleged illegal practice in the egg industry involving the incorrect labelling of eggs, including the labelling of non-free range eggs as free range.


From inspections carried out by Defra, under the EC Egg Marketing Regulations, the Department had become concerned about possible illegal practice in the egg industry.  The investigation is targeted on the collection & supply of eggs; not the original production.

Press release ~ Defra – Eggs & Poultry ~ Egg Marking ~ British Egg information service ~ Laid in Britain ~ British Free Range Egg Producers Association ~ News Item


Met Office:  People suffering with respiratory illness are set to benefit this winter from a pilot scheme being introduced by the Met Office, designed to improve patient well-being. 


Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease (COPD) is a debilitating condition that causes suffering for thousands in the UK.  Symptoms include breathlessness & coughing and, for people with more severe COPD, normal activities can become difficult.  Sometimes, especially in the winter, many people with COPD find that their symptoms become worse.


This link between cold weather and COPD forms the basis of the innovative service (from 17 November 2006) developed by the Met Office and funded by Cornwall Adult Social Care, which will provide up to 1,000 patients registered at 10 practices across Cornwall with an automatic telephone messaging & monitoring service.  

Press release ~ Met Office - COPD Forecasting Service ~ World COPD Day ~ Living with COPD ~ Medixine ~ Cornwall Adult Social Care


Scottish Executive:  Scotland is delivering on an international agreement to address climate change, an international conference in Nairobi, Kenya, was told last week.

Press release ~ SE information on climate change ~ Video - It's Our Future ~ Montreal Declaration


TfL:  Transport for London (TfL) has responded to the PPP Arbiter's Metronet Annual Report, which concluded that over the first three years of the London Underground PPP, Metronet has not performed in an economic & efficient manner or in line with Good Industry Practice.


The PPP Arbiter's Report followed London Underground's annual PPP report published in August this year, which showed that Metronet's maintenance & renewal activities are behind schedule and its costs are escalating.

Press release ~ LU’s third annual PPP report ~Arbiter’s Press release ~ Arbiter’s Report ~ TfL PPP contracts


Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra:  The critical role played by supermarkets in helping consumers to reduce the environmental impact of their weekly shopping came under the spotlight when the UK's top 13 grocery retailers met with Defra and WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme).


Reporting on progress to date against WRAP's Courtauld Commitment, which aims to reduce the amount of packaging & food waste that ends up in everyone's bins, the retailers outlined a range of actions they have taken over the past year, including; Minimised packaging, and innovations that keep food fresher for longer and so cut the amount that is thrown away.


The retailers suggested follow up action on three issues: Food waste, Biopolymers & compostable packaging and Consistent on-pack recycling information for consumers

Press release ~ Waste Resources Action Programme ~ Courtauld Commitment ~ Envirowise ~ Business Resource Efficiency Waste (BREW) programme ~ Booklet:  The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2005 - Is your business complying ~ Defra Packaging website ~ DTI Packaging website ~ EU Packaging website ~ Defra: recycling & waste ~ Waste Implementation Programme ~ Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment


Homeless Link:  Welcoming Ruth Kelly’s recent speech about Government plans to tackle homelessness, Jenny Edwards, chief executive of Homeless Link which this month launched a campaign to end homelessness in the UK by 2022, said:

“We warmly welcome a move to ensure that hostels nationally become places of change - providing programmes of positive activities including skills and learning.  This builds on and supports the excellent work many of our member organisations are already doing.


We also welcome the important pledge to take young people out of unsuitable Bed and Breakfast accommodation and into more supportive lodgings.  These and the sort of family mediation schemes now proposed by the Government have already proven their value where they are currently offered”.

Press release ~ Ruth Kelly’s full speech  ~ Homeless Link ~ DCLG – Tackling Homelessness ~ Mayor supports challenge ~ Ending Homelessness: from Vision to Action ~ Andy Ludlow Awards  ~ Barker Review  ~ Shelter ~ Supporting People programme ~ Alone in London ~ Look Ahead ~ Hostels Capital Improvement Programme ~ The Training for Life ~ Working Future  ~ Cardboard Citizens


HMRC:  HM Revenue & Customs is to begin a programme of consultation intended to ‘deliver a more effective service to local businesses and individuals’.  The series of consultations on the future shape & direction of the department in Northern Ireland will begin in June 2007 and are designed to progress the consolidation of the HMRC estate and the co-location of staff nationwide, following the April 2005 merger of the former Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise.


HMRC has a government target of 12,500 net staff savings by April 2008, which it ‘is on its way to meet’, and is working towards a target to reduce annual estates costs by £30 million by then.


The FDA, the union representing senior public servants, including the majority of senior staff in HM Revenue and Customs, have expressed its concerns about 'change overload' and the need to avoid disruption to delivery.  Of particular concern to the FDA is the fact that the proposals were drawn up without consultation.

HMRC press release ~ FDA press release  ~ HMRC Change programme ~ FDA


TfL:  The Mayor of London, has announced the start of detailed consultation (closes 2 February 2007) by TfL on the proposed London-wide Low Emissions Zone, aimed at reducing emissions from the most polluting diesel engine lorries, coaches, buses, heavier vans and minibuses.


From 2008, diesel engine lorries, coaches and buses that fail to meet a minimum pollution standard face having to pay a charge if they drive within Greater London.  Such a charge would be designed to act as an effective incentive for operators to modify or replace dirty vehicles.

Press release ~ Transport for London: Low Emissions Zone ~ Consultation documents  ~ Taxi Emissions Strategy ~ Mayor's Transport Strategy  ~ Air Quality Strategy ~ Transport and Air Quality Strategies ~ Air Quality Archive ~ The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ~ Quantification of the Effects of Air Pollution on Health in the UK ~ Nitrogen Dioxide in the United Kingdom ~ Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards


DTI:  New technology in the home, so you can track the energy you use, and clearer more understandable energy bills are part of a consultation (closes 6 February 2007) that has been launched by the DTI.


The Energy Review said that saving energy must be the starting point for cutting carbon and the Government has been asking energy suppliers to improve the information in customers' bills.  Consideration is also being given to providing households with gadgets which show how much energy a household is using, as improved energy billing & metering could help customers make better informed decisions about their energy use.

Press release ~ Energy Review ~ 'Energy billing and metering: Changing customer behaviour' ~ Energy Efficiency Commitment ~ European Environment Agency ~ Market Transformation Programme ~ Energy Savings Trust ~ EU Renewable Energy Unit ~ Intelligent Energy Europe


MCA:  The MCA have presented amendments to the Large Yacht Code at the first Global Super yacht Forum at the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition Centre, as part of a consultation process (closes 15 December 2006) on helicopter landing areas on board large yachts.  


This consultation follows two years of development through meetings with a study group of industry representatives, outlining the technical standard required of helicopter landing areas for large commercial yachts certificated to the Large Yacht Code (LY2). 


It is intended that the Helideck Certification Agency (HCA) will carry-out surveys for helicopter landing areas on board commercially operated large yachts as the UK's aviation inspection body and shall fulfil the role of "competent body" with regards to landing area limitations.

Press release ~ The Large Commercial Yacht Code (LY2) Proposed Additions and Changes on Helicopter Landing Areas ~ Helideck Certification Agency (HCA) ~ International Superyacht Society


Highways Agency:  Road users and other interested groups are being invited to make their views known as the Government reviews its guidance for motorway service areas, trunk road service areas, lay-bys and lorry parks.

The provision of picnic facilities alongside trunk roads and motorways is also under consideration.


The consultation (closes 8th February 2007) seeks views on the:

·         location of motorway service areas; determining the need for such sites and the spacing interval

·         type of facilities, how they are signed and their standards

·         service areas on trunk roads

·         motorway picnic facilities

·         lorry parking

·         provision & use of lay-bys

Press release ~ Policy for service areas and other roadside facilities on Motorways and All-Purpose Trunk Roads in England ~ Roads Circular 1/94 ~ About 5 minutes away ~ Use and Opinions of Motorway Service Areas


Scottish Executive:  A consultation (closes 7 February 2007) has been launched on proposals to make it an offence to sell a range of non-native animal and plant species in Scotland, including Parrot's feather, the highly destructive Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed. 


It is also proposed to make it an offence to release from captivity, (or in the case of plants, allow to grow in the wild) certain animals including wild boar, the domestic European ferret, the Chinese mitten crab plus certain species of parakeets, cotoneaster and crayfish.


Non-native species can compete with native wildlife by predation, degradation of habitats, introduction of new parasites and hybridization.  The species listed in the consultation are either already causing considerable damage to Scotland's natural environment or are considered likely to do so.

Press release ~ Consultation on proposals to amend Schedule 9 and the use of an order made under Section 14A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 ~ Horticultural Code of Practice ~ What are invasive non-native species? ~ Review of Non-native Species Policy ~ UK Biodiversity Action Plan Website ~ Scotland's Biodiversity It's In Your Hands ~ Cornwall Knotweed Forum ~ A Cost-Benefit analysis of introducing the non-native species signal crayfish ~ European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS) ~ Convention on Biological Diversity

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DfES:  The Department for Education and Skills claims that safe & responsible recruitment of teachers and other staff working in schools & colleges has been further strengthened by the publication of new consolidated recruitment guidance.


Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education makes clear the responsibilities of schools and colleges, clarifies the process for checking volunteer staff, including Governors who come into regular contact with children and also sets out new measures that from January 2007 will make schools & colleges responsible for:

·         carrying out mandatory Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and previous conduct checks on all new applicants who have lived or worked outside of the UK

·         keeping a single, central record detailing when checks on staff were made and by whom

·         requesting written confirmation that all checks that are required for permanent staff have been carried out for agency staff, including enhanced CRB checks

Press release ~ Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education ~ Safer Recruitment in Education ~ The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act ~ Safeguarding children: Safer recruitment and Selection in Education Settings ~ Every Child Matters: Working Together to Safeguard Children ~ Teachernet – Child protection ~ Training to teach in today's schools ~ Training and Development Agency ~ Criminal Records Bureau ~ List 99 ~ DfES: The Protection of Children Act 1999 - A Practical Guide to the Act for all Organisations Working with Children (Revised September 2005) ~ Local Safeguarding Children Boards ~ Parents Centre  ~ Trainees facing allegations ~ Safeguarding children: an evaluation of procedures for checking staff appointed by schools – Ofsted report ~ DfES – Sex Offences legislation ~ Vetting and Barring Scheme ~ Scottish V&B scheme ~ Home Office Bichard implementation website


Cabinet Office:  In spite of well known success stories like The Eden Project, The Big Issue or Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, only one in four people know what a social enterprise is: a firm founded for a social purpose that reinvests its profits in the company or community.


Recent research shows young people are extremely attracted by the dynamic combination of business skills and social impact and the government hopes an action plan will put social enterprises into the business studies curriculum in schools and raise awareness of what social enterprises can achieve.


The Government has also launched of Make Your Mark with a Tenner - a competition where 10,000 teenagers are given £10 to prove they are tomorrow's socially-minded entrepreneurs.

Press release ~ Social Enterprise action plan: Scaling New Heights ~ Make Your Mark with a Tenner ~ The Eden Project ~ The Big Issue ~ Jamie Oliver's Fifteen ~ National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship ~ Social Enterprise Coalition ~ Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office


DfES:  The DfES has published new guidance which is intended to provide University Vice Chancellors & Principals of FE colleges, who provide Higher Education, with a practical tool to assist them in working with students & staff to increase community cohesion and tackle violent extremism in the name of Islam on campus.


The guide emphasizes the need for universities, the Government, students, the police and local communities to work together to ensure the safety & the welfare of all students on campus, of all backgrounds and it builds on ‘Promoting good campus relations: dealing with hate crimes and intolerance’ - the general guidance that Universities UK with Government support circulated last year.


Included within it are real life definitions of violent extremism in the name of Islam and scenarios based on examples of how violent extremism in the name of Islam may occur on campuses.

Press release ~ New Guidance document ~ Promoting good campus relations: dealing with hate crimes and intolerance ~ Faith guides for Higher Education ~ Federation of Student Islamic Societies ~ You ONLY have the Right to Silence: A Briefing on the Concerns regarding Muslims on Campus in Britain ~ Times on-line article

Annual Reports

FCO:  The Foreign Secretary launched the 2005-6 Annual Report for the Global Opportunities Fund (GOF) after it had been laid before Parliament.   Six programmes came under the GOF umbrella in 2005-6 and together they funded some 450 projects costing £36 million:

·         Climate Change

·         Counter Terrorism

·         Economic Governance

·         Engaging with the Islamic World

·         Reuniting Europe

·         Sustainable Developemnt


Commenting on the work of the GOF, the Foreign Secretary said: "GOF programmes address the key international challenges we are facing today such as climate security and the terrorist threat to UK interests."

Press release ~ GOF website ~ Annual report

General Reports and other publications

Lyons Inquiry:  Sir Michael Lyons has published three papers from some of his recent stakeholder engagement work.  The first two set out the key issues discussed at the recent councillor & business engagement events held over the summer, while the third provides a brief account of the Lyons Inquiry Economic Prosperity Conference held on 14 September 2006.


Further papers will be published over the next few months including a report of the public engagement events on 20th November 2006.

Press release ~ Councillor engagement consultation report ~ Business round-table events consultation report ~ National Conference report ~ Lyons Inquiry website


DfT:   The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into the wagon derailment of a freight train passing through York Station on 18th January 2006.  There were no injuries sustained as a result of this derailment, however it resulted in damage to the wagon and rail infrastructure.


The immediate cause of the incident was the collapse of the suspension at one wheel, which occurred because the maintenance regime did not detect the deterioration of a suspension component. 

Press release ~ RAIB: Wagon derailment at York Station ~ DfT – Railways website


Home Office:  Stafford Prison has taken steps to address its previous negative culture, but there is still much to do, said Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the report of a full announced inspection of the prison, whose findings included:

·         there had been improvements in staff-prisoner relationships

·         almost all prisoners were able to attend work or education at some time during the day; but most of the work was menial, without the possibility of gaining qualifications or preparing for employment

·         healthcare arrangements were unsatisfactory, and the work of the mental health in-reach team was severely constrained; and

·         some good resettlement work was being carried out, but was hampered by the lack of a local strategy

Press release ~ Report ~ Green Paper - Reducing Re-offending Through Skills and Employment ~ Education in Prisons (1.4MB) ~ Developing oral communication and productive thinking skills in HM prisons ~ Prison health ~ Prison Health website – Univ. of Birmingham ~ Kings College – International Centre for prison Studies ~ Measuring the quality of Prison Life ~ HM Prison Service – Peer support


Defra:  Defra and the DTI are claiming in a report that significant progress has been made in the way the UK produces & uses bioenergy and renewable materials, with a fivefold increase in sales of biofuels in UK between 2004 and 2005 and with production of biodiesel increasing at a similar rate between 2003 and 2005.


Creating Value from Renewable Materials, reviews progress two years on from launching the original Non-Food Crops Strategy, published jointly by Defra and DTI in November 2004 and also looks at priorities for the next three years & beyond.

Press release ~ Creating Value from Renewable Materials-a Strategy for Non- Food Crops and Uses - Two Year Progress Report ~ Strategy for Non - Food Crops and Uses ~ Biomass Taskforce ~ Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation ~ UK Biomass Energy Centre ~ DTI – Biomass Energy in your Community ~ National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) ~ DTI Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)


Ofwat:  Ofwat says that water companies must be prepared in case there is another dry winter and ensure that they have sufficient supplies to meet next summer's demands. 


They had been successful in meeting demand this summer which was one of the driest periods in south east England for more than 70 years.  However, customers were unhappy about the restrictions placed on their water use, particularly where companies such as Thames Water had failed to meet their leakage targets.


Companies' water supply & leakage performances for 2005-06, and the regulator's views on some of the issues that arose during the summer of 2006, are set out in Ofwat's Security of supply report.  The report also shows that the amount of water people use has remained stable over the last 10 years, with annual variations.

Press release ~ Ofwat website ~ Security of supply report (VVLF 7Mb) ~ Water Saving Group ~ Environment Agency: Drought – What’s happening?

Legislation / Legal

DCA:  Moves to maximise participation in elections and to make the voting system more accessible, secure & efficient have been finalised according to the Dept. for Constitutional Affairs with the laying of 3 Regulations:

·         Representation of the People (England and Wales)(Amendment)(No.2) Regulations

·         The Service Voters' Registration Period Order 2006 and

·         The Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places (Parliamentary Elections) Regulations 2006


The regulations implement the core aims of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 and will make voting easier for electors who have special needs or circumstances by:

·         removing the restriction on mental health patients detained under civil powers from voting in person

·         allowing anonymous registration to protect vulnerable people, and

·         extending the length of registration for service personnel from one year to three years


In terms of commencement, all three regulations will come into force on 1st January 2007 (except anonymous registration which commences in June 2007).  However, the provisions will not apply for elections between 1st January 2007 and 3rd May 2007.

Press release ~ DCA -Electoral Administration Act 2006 ~ Summary Document ~ Electoral Commission


DCA:  The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill has been published and it includes proposals to:

·         improve the working of the tribunals system by providing a new statutory framework, offices & bodies

·         widen the range of people eligible to apply to become judges, increasing judicial diversity

·         unify & provide a new statutory framework for law on civil debt recovery, a certification process for civil enforcement agents and relief measures for debtors unable to pay their debts

·         reform the enforcement of compulsory purchase orders.

Press release ~ DCA: Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill ~ Beatson Independent Review of Bailiff Law 2000 ~ Summary of 2001 Green paper ~ Government White Paper Effective Enforcement (March 2003) ~ Sir Andrew Leggatt's Review of Tribunals ~ White Paper Transforming Public Services: Complaints, Redress and Tribunals (July 2004) ~ Tribunals Service


DH:  The government claims that protection for patients & the public is at the heart of the Mental Health Bill, which was published last week by Health Minister Rosie Winterton and Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe.


The Bill will introduce supervised treatment in the community to ensure that patients comply with treatment when they are discharged from hospital and enable action to be taken to prevent relapse.  This will hopefully both benefit patients and improve public safety.


The Bill also gives new rights and extra protection to people who are unable to decide about their care and who may be unfairly deprived of their liberty.  These new safeguards will affect about 5,000 people who have a serious mental disorder but up until now have not been covered by existing mental health laws.  Known as the 'Bournewood provisions', they include independent checks of whether they should be detained, rights to appeal and a representative appointed to look after their rights.


It will also introduce a new simplified definition of mental disorder and remove the "treatability" test.  The "treatability" test has meant that in the past, some people who needed treatment to prevent them harming themselves or others did not receive it.

Press release ~ DH:  Mental Health Bill ~ Bournewood safeguards ~ Turning point view on Bournewood ~ Mental Health Review Tribunal ~ National Institute of Mental Health ~ Chief Nursing Officer’s review of mental health nursing: Summary of responses to the consultation ~ Rethink website ~ The National Audit of Violence (2005 - 2006) ~ National Assoc. of Psychiatric IC Units ~ Risk Management Programme ~ Care Programme Approach ~ Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP)


DCMS:  Plans to make it easier for older and disabled people to benefit from digital switchover have been published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).


The Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information) Bill will allow the Department for Work and Pensions, its Northern Ireland equivalent and the Veterans Agency to share social security and war pensions information with the BBC during digital switchover.  The information would be used to identify people who are eligible for support under the digital switchover help scheme.


The digital switchover help scheme is a Government manifesto commitment and supports the Government's publicly stated objective of completing digital television switchover between 2008 and 2012.  Starting in Whitehaven at the end of 2007 and the rest of Borders in 2008, digital switchover will roll out in the UK by ITV region until the programme is completed in Northern Ireland in 2012.

Press release ~ The Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information) Bill ~ Report of the Bolton Digital Television Project ~ Support Scheme ~ BBC digital website ~ BBC White Paper ~ Digital TV Group ~ Freeview ~ DigiTV website ~ Department for Culture, Media and Sport ~ Department for Work and Pensions ~ Television Licences (Disclosure of Information) Act 2000

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

DTI:  The government claims that trade barriers within the European Union were ‘dealt a fatal blow’ last week as the European Parliament agreed the EU Services Directive.  The landmark agreement will hopefully be worth up to £5 billion a year to the UK economy and create up to 135,000 jobs.


The EU Directive on Services in the internal market is intended to cut red tape across the EU making it easier for service providers, particularly small & medium sized enterprises, to set up and offer services in other Member States, including:

·         business services such as management consultancy, advertising and facilities & office management

·         services to business & consumers such as legal advice, estate agents, architects and distributive trades

·         consumer services such as tourism including tour guides & travel agents, leisure services, amusement parks, plumbers & electricians


Each Member State will have to set up a single contact point on-line for all necessary information & applications and it is expected that Directive will implemented across the EU by early 2010.

Press release ~ DTI – EU Services Directive ~ EU – Internal Market for Services ~ EU Services Directive - LGIB Briefing for Local Authorities

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC:  The Charity Commission and The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) have formally announced the membership of its new Charities SORP Committee.  It includes not only accounting experts, but also individuals with general sector experience who can bring a 'layperson's' view to the table.


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.


Agendas, papers and minutes will be available on their websites both to inform the sector of the issues & challenges faced and also to give transparency to the work of the new Committee.

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

Business and other briefings

Pensions Regulator:  New initiatives intended to demonstrate the Pensions Regulator's commitment to addressing risks to members of defined contribution pension schemes have been unveiled.


A module - 'How a DC scheme Works' - dedicated to defined contribution (DC) schemes was launched as part of the already established free online e-learning programme.  It contains information on: the nature of DC schemes; contributions; the tax regime; investment choices; decisions at retirement; charges; administration; and improving member understanding.

At the same time, a consultation
(closes 2 February 2007) was announced to consider the Pensions Regulator's proposals to address the risks to members and how it will regulate DC schemes.  The regulator will take a three pronged approach - education & guidance, partnership working and intervention.

 Press release ~ DC Trustee toolkit module ~ Consultation document ~ Response Document ~ Code of practice on trustee knowledge & understanding


OFT:  Following a recommendation from the Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed to the establishment of a new governance body for payment systems, the Payments Industry Association, which will concentrate on access, innovation and governance issues


In addition, the Payment Systems Task Force has also announced that agreement has been reached on a number of improvements to the cheque clearing process that will benefit both consumers and businesses, which are detailed in the recently published Cheques Working Group report and will take effect from November 2007.


 The Task Force has concluded that there is no case for a complete rebuild of the cheque clearing system, as the number of cheques in circulation is falling by around 8% per year and this rate of decline is likely to increase substantially when the new faster payments service becomes available in November 2007.

Press release ~ Cheques Working Group report ~ Competition in UK Banking ~ OFT – Payment Systems Taskforce ~ OFT report - UK Payment Systems (VLF) ~ May 2005 report ~ Cruickshank report of 2000 ~ Payments Industry Association ~ Banking Code ~ OFT's 2003 report 'UK Payment Systems' ~ APACS - Cheques & Cheque Clearing The Facts


HMRC:  New rates of interest have been announced by HM Revenues & Customs covering quarterly instalment payments and early payments of corporation tax not due by instalments, which take effect from 20 November 2006


The rate of interest charged on underpaid instalment payments of corporation tax changes from 5.75% to 6%.

The rate of interest on overpaid instalment payments of corporation tax, and on corporation tax paid early (but not due by instalments) changes from 4.50% to 4.75%.

Press release ~ HMRC interest Rates

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