Kings College – CCJS:  Tough on the statistics of crime - Government claims of success in improving the performance of the criminal justice agencies and tackling crime since 1997 are ‘overstated' and ‘misleading', according to an independent audit of Labour's record on law & order published by the King's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

The Report, Ten years of criminal justice under Labour: An independent audit, says that despite nearly ten years of reforms and record expenditure, success has been far less clear cut than the Government has claimed and its key findings include:

·         Nearly all crime reduction targets have been met, but in reality, they were relatively straightforward to achieve, having been set on the basis of existing trends continuing regardless of government action

·         Overall there are only three convictions for every 100 estimated offences

·         Re-offending targets have all been modified, missed or dropped

·         Little or no progress has been made against targets to reduce the number of children in custody.

Press release ~ Ten years of criminal justice under Labour: An independent audit (1.8Mb) ~ Centre for Crime and Justice Studies ~ Home Office Crime Statistics ~ Home Office - Data Quality Assurance ~ National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) ~ Home Office Counting Rules ~ Local Policing Summaries ~ Evaluation of the National Reassurance Police Programme (a model of neighbourhood policing) (scroll down) ~ National Statistics – crime figures


DCLG:  ‘Super government websites’ may be the new fashion, but ‘super departments’ are on the way out - The Government has announced proposals for a new agency to deliver regeneration & housing in a shake-up of the way it supports the delivery of new homes and develops mixed, sustainable communities in England.


The proposed agency - Communities England - will bring together the functions of English Partnerships, the Housing Corporation and a range of work currently carried out by divisions of the DCLG, including delivery in the areas of:

·         decent homes

·         housing market renewal

·         housing PFI

·         housing growth, and

·         urban regeneration


Communities England is expected to have an annual budget of over £4 billion, with the final size of the budget and the arrangements for delegating the Department's budgets to be determined as part of CSR07.


A separate review of the regulation of affordable housing (the Cave Review – reporting Spring 2007), which was announced last December, is looking at how the regulatory system should be reformed to better support tenants, reduce burdens on social housing providers and to reflect current & future Government priorities.

Press release ~ DCLG website ~ English Partnerships ~ Housing Corporation ~ The Cave Review of Social Housing Regulation


CSPL:  Taking politicians out of the electoral process - In its eleventh report 'Review of The Electoral Commission' the Committee on Standards in Public Life sets out a package of inter-related recommendations to radically refocus & reform the Commission to ensure that in future there is effective regulation of the electoral process and of political party funding.


Sir Alistair Graham and Committee accused the Electoral Commission of having ‘a lack of courage, competence and leadership in its regulatory and advisory approach and recommended measures to ensure elections are free fair and secure, including the introduction of individual voter registration.


Other recommendations in the 11th report include:

·         Changes to its two core roles - as regulator of political party funding and as a regulator of electoral administration - with the aim of ensuring integrity & public confidence in both

·         The creation of statutory regional electoral officers (REOs)

·         Moving to individual voter registration

·         Boosting its legal role as a proactive regulator of political party funding rules

·         A new 'compliance unit' to investigative action on party funding and campaign expenditure issues

·         The introduction of financial penalties for breaches of party funding rules regulations

·         A package of supporting measures to improve the governance & accountability of the Commission


To ensure proper focus on these two core regulatory roles the Committee also recommends that the Commission be stripped of responsibility for:

·         any electoral boundary setting work

·         electoral policy - which should now go to the Department for Constitutional Affairs, and

·         encouraging participation in the democratic process

Press release ~ Committee on Standards in Public Life ~ Eleventh Report – Review of the Electoral commission ~ Electoral Commission ~ DCA Elections Bill website ~ Absent voting in Great Britain: report and recommendations ~ Delivering Democracy? The future of postal voting - Summary ~ Do Politics ~ Youth Voting Network  ~ BBC news item ~ Code of conduct for handling of Postal Ballots ~ Electoral Administration Act ~ Registering to vote ~ The review of the funding of political parties – Interim assessment ~ Party Funding Forum  ~  Public Perspectives: The future of party funding in the UK Interim report - Research Study Conducted for The Electoral Commission/COI 2006 ~ Electoral Commission - Loans ~ Electoral Commission - Donors ~ Hansard – Principles of party funding ~ EC paper from 2004


Defra:  Prevent urban flooding becoming money down the drain - Fifteen new pilot projects will consider how to reduce the impacts of urban drainage flooding in towns & cities across England and how best to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change, which include more intense & frequent rainfall events.


Flooding from surface water and urban drainage in towns & cities currently costs the national economy £270 million on average each year, according to the Government's own research, but this could increase by up to £15 billion by the 2080s, if action is not taken.


The flooding of homes & businesses in towns and cities is typically due to a range of factors, including high river levels, concentrations of overland flow following heavy rainfall, limited capacity of drainage systems and blockage of waterways & drainage channels.  Some problems can be isolated to a single cause but more often it is a combination of factors which causes the worst flooding.


Urban flooding is particularly challenging to manage - partly because several different organisations are responsible for different aspects of the problem.  The Integrated Urban Drainage pilot projects will see the various bodies working together to develop solutions and will help Government consider the best arrangements for reducing flood risk in our towns and cities.


The pilots will also provide new tools & techniques for mapping & managing surface water following heavy rainfall events and bring more clarity on responsibilities for those managing urban flood risk.

Press release ~ Details of pilot projects ~ Foresight study on Food & Coastal Defence ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme – Scenarios Gateway ~ Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk (PPS25) ~ DCLG: Planning for flood risk: the facts ~ Sewer Flooding - Your Questions Answered ~ Sewer Flooding Best Practice Register ~ Defra Flood management website ~ 'Making Space for Water' ~ ABI Flooding & Insurance website (includes principles) ~ Flooding in Scotland ~ National Flood forum ~ National Appraisal of Assets at Risk of Flooding and Coastal Erosion in England and Wales ~ Flood Ranger ~ Direct Gov Flooding website ~ Defra Flood management website ~ Institute of Civil Engineers – Engineering skills for flood risk management


Scottish Executive:  Scotland declares its support for measures to combat Global Warming - The Executive, through Learning Teaching Scotland and Scottish Power, is to develop & deliver a package of education materials, based around screenings of former US Vice President Al Gore’s climate change film An Inconvenient Truth.  The aim of the package is to maximise the teaching & learning opportunities presented by this important documentary.


In a separate but related press release, it was announced that Scotland's local authorities are set to be amongst the first signatories to a new Declaration on Climate Change, which includes commitments to:

·         prepare & publicly declare a plan (with targets & time-scales) to achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from local authority operations including energy use, transport & waste, and

·         publish an annual statement on progress in addressing climate change


Scotland's Climate Change Declaration has secured the support of all of Scotland's 32 local authorities with approximately 18 local authorities already having signed the Declaration locally on the 16th January 2007, while the others are due to follow within the next few weeks.

Education press release ~ Declaration press release ~ Scotland's Climate Change Declaration ~ Sustainable Development Education website ~ Changing Our Ways: Scotland's Climate Change Programme ~ Choosing our Future: Scotland's Sustainable Development Strategy ~ A Survey of Local Authority Activity on Climate Change ~ Sustainable Scotland Network ~ Improvement and Development Agency Benchmark & Toolkit ~ Learning Teaching Scotland ~ Scottish Power ~ Sustainable Development and Education Liaison Group (SDELG) ~ Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) – Climate Change


Land Registry:  Register to protect ownership - As part of a major programme, almost all of the land owned by Lincolnshire County Council, including Lincoln Castle, is now registered.  Registering with Land Registry means the state guarantees the owner's title to their property, giving them better protection.  It also means that if and when they come to sell, or they are asked to prove their ownership, they have easy access to their records online.


Lincolnshire County Council believes that the voluntary registration of its land holdings represented an opportunity to manage land assets more effectively & efficiently.  Even more importantly, it facilitates the consolidation of complex legal information or historic data about their land and offers protection against third parties being able to claim ownership through adverse possession, thus safeguarding the public interest.


Following the 2002 Land Registration Act, Land Registry pioneered the delivery of modern electronic government services.  In addition to its Land Registry Direct service for property professionals, it launched Land Register Online, where members of the public can download copies of registers, title plans and other documents referred to in the register.

Land Registry is now working to deliver e-conveyancing, which will replace the current paper-based system, throughout
England and Wales.  The first part of this, ‘Chain Matrix’, will be piloted in 2007 in Portsmouth, Fareham and Bristol.

Press release ~ Land Registry ~ e-Conveyancing ~ 2002 Land Registration Act ~ Land Registry Direct ~ Land Register Online

Forthcoming Event - Innovation in all its forms – This is the theme of the Second Annual 4ps PPP Conference, which will cover project development, design, financing, procurement, operational and contract management – from both the public & private sector perspective. 


The Competitive Dialogue Procedure (CDP) gives local authorities the opportunity to work more closely with the private sector to identify innovative solutions to their procurement needs prior to finalising a specification that they put out to tender. 


Given its importance, the CDP will be a major focus of the section of the conference devoted to innovation in the pre-contract phase, alongside a review of the latest financing techniques & strategies for accelerating the development and procurement process.


In addition, there will be a series of practical case studies, each illustrating a particular aspect of partnering, in which both the public and private sector partners will give their perspective.

Further Details ~ 4Ps ~ 4Ps – Competitive dialogue publications ~ Glossary of Terms ~ Procurement Options ~ BSF guidance note - How to Conduct a Competitive Dialogue Procedure ~ OGC guidance on Competitive Dialogue ~ Barclays Capital ~ Amey ~ Bevan Brittan LLP ~ Rotherham Brought Together ~ Colas ~ Mott MacDonald ~ NAO PFI & PPP/Privatisation Recommendations website ~ General News

Defra:  The Department of Health, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Health and Safety Executive advise that pregnant women who come into close contact with sheep during lambing may risk their own health and that of their unborn child, from infections that can occur in some ewes.  These include chlamydiosis (enzootic abortion of ewes - EAE), toxoplasmosis and listeriosis, which are common causes of abortion in ewes.


Pregnant women should seek medical advice if they experience fever or influenza-like symptoms, or if concerned that they could have acquired infection from a farm environment.

Press release ~ Infection at work: Controlling the risks ~ HSE Information sheet: Common Zoonoses in Agriculture ~ HSE: Agriculture ~ Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 ~ Management of Health and Safety of Work Regulations 1999 ~ Defra - Animal By-Products


DH:  The Government, the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry and the British Generic Manufacturers Association have joined forces to tackle medicine supply problems experienced in England by working together to produce guidelines which it is hoped will ensure that unavoidable shortages are handled in a more collaborative way in the future.


The guidelines recommend that companies communicate with the DH about impending shortages that are likely to have an impact on patient care as soon as possible so as to enable the DH and the industry to work together and make contingency arrangements where necessary.

Press release ~ Notification and management of medicines shortages - Best Practice Guidelines ~ British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) ~ Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)


DfES:  A unique garden to show teachers the benefits of taking learning outside the classroom and bring the environment to life for young people is to be exhibited at this July's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.


The school garden aims to show how first hand experience of growing plants (including fruit & vegetables) can enhance learning of the national curriculum by inspiring young people and deepening their understanding of the natural environment and the importance of healthy eating.  


It will be moved to a permanent location (to be selected in the north of England) as a long-term resource to train teachers and advise them on new ideas and a realistic vision of what can be built in school grounds.

Press release ~ Hampton Court Palace Flower Show ~ Growing Schools programme ~ Teachernet - Education outside the Classroom Manifesto ~ Learning through Landscapes (LTL) ~ Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) ~ Year of Food and Farming - September 2007 to July 2008


MoD:  St Athan, in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, will be home to a new tri-service Defence Training campus, Defence Secretary Des Browne has announced. 


The Defence Training Review will provide specialist training by creating new National Centres of Excellence, through a programme of investment, rationalisation and modernisation.  In most cases, training will be delivered on a defence-wide, tri-service basis, rather than by single Service, as this will better support joint operational deployments and allow the training estate to be rationalised.


The DTR programme comprises six specialist training streams, which have been separated into two contractual packages to optimise synergies and economies of scale:

·         Package 1 involves provision of training for engineering and communications

·         Package 2 will provide training for logistics, security, policing and administration


Some 3,400 military and 3,000 civilian instructors & support personnel and a standing population of some 11,000 Defence trainees are potentially affected by the DTR Programme.

Press release ~ Metrix Consortium ~ Defence Training Review Rationalisation Integrated Project Team (DTRIPT) ~ Defence Estates Website


OGC – BS:  OGCbuying.solutions, trading arm of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has announced that it has committed to a three-year partnership agreement with Forum for the Future, a leading UK sustainable development charity, which is intended to help OGCbuying.solutions to increase its sustainable credentials and improve the sustainability aspects of the goods & services made available to the public sector under its contracts.


Forum for the Future is a charity that aims to show that a sustainable future is both possible & desirable, by working with forward looking organisations in business & the public sector to find practical ways to build a future that is environmentally viable, socially just and economically prosperous.


A sustainable procurement toolkit will also be developed for OGCbuying.solutions category & contract managers, to ensure sustainability is integrated into procurement processes.

Press release ~ Forum for the Future ~ OGCbuying.solutions - Sustainable Solutions ~ Office of Government Commerce (OGC) ~ NAO:  Sustainable procurement in central government ~ Local Government Information unit – Local sustainable procurement ~ Sustainable Procurement Taskforce ~ 'Procuring the Future' - The Sustainable Procurement Task Force National Action Plan ~ IDea – Sustainable Procurement – Making it happen ~ Society of Procurement Officers (SOPO) ~ OGC: Getting better value for your fleet

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DCMS:  Licensing Minister Shaun Woodward today urged local authorities to sign up to a new register that he claims will help make it easier to stage live performances & events in public spaces.  The central register of licensed public spaces in England and Wales, lists places that have been licensed by local authorities to hold events such as concerts, farmers markets, circuses and plays.


It will enable performers and event organisers to identify where they can stage an event without applying for a new premises licence or giving a temporary event notice themselves.  They will, however, need to get the permission of the relevant local authority.


So far 106 local authorities have entries on the register, which is being run in association with Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS). Local authorities who wish to contribute to it should send details to licensedpublicland@culture.gsi.gov.uk

Press release ~ Register of Licensed Public Spaces in England and Wales ~ Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) ~ Find your local council


HM Treasury:  The government has launched its long-term approach to financial capability and a new taskforce has been asked to research & design a national generic financial advice service – ‘ensuring that every person, including those on the lowest incomes, can get quick, easy and simple access to good quality financial advice’.


The taskforce will report to Ministers by the end of 2007 and the Government will also publish an action plan (end of 2007) setting out how financial capability will be integrated into existing services, particularly for those most vulnerable to the consequences of poor financial skills and taking forward plans for a national approach to generic financial advice.

Press release ~ National Strategy for Financial Capability Resource Centre ~ Schools: Learning money matters ~ AEGON UK ~ The Money Doctors toolkit ~ FSA Workplace programme ~ Schools Money Week ~ FSA -  Money made clear ~ Financial Healthcheck ~ Building financial capability in the UK ~ National Debt line ~ Report No. 275: Financial Education: A review of existing provision in the UK ~ QCA – Financial capability ~ TeacherNet ~ Levels of Financial Capability in the UK: Results of a baseline survey ~ Financial Capability in the UK: Delivering Change ~ Consumer Research 47 ~ Consumer Research 47a:


DfES:  A new £10million package of measures to boost music & singing for young people including a national singing champion has been announced by Education Secretary Alan Johnson, providing the Government response to the Music Manifesto report Making Every Child's Music Matter.


Mr Johnson named composer & broadcaster Howard Goodall as the Singing Ambassador leading the Government's new singing campaign and, as part of a wider response to the Making Every Child's Music Matter recommendations Mr Johnson also announced:

·         The production of a 21st Century songbook

·         choir schools are to work in partnership with local schools

·         the roll-out of Music Start to engage parents and young children in music making.

Press release ~ The Music Manifesto ~ Making every child's music matter ~ DfES Music and Dance scheme ~ Teachernet Music website ~ Music at School ~ Youth Music  ~ National Youth Music Organisations (NYOs) ~ Musical Futures ~ National Federation of Music Societies  ~ Music Colleges ~ Federation of Music Services ~ Music Start (see page 3) ~ Manchester Music Service's Singing Schools initiative


Ofsted:  From September 2007, Ofsted says that it proposes to reduce inspection of the best colleges, whilst focusing more attention on colleges where there is inadequate provision and those where performance is satisfactory but not improving.


Satisfactory colleges will continue to have a significant proportion of their work inspected on a four year cycle, while Inadequate colleges will receive a monitoring visit 6-9 months after inspection, followed by a full re-inspection after 12-15 months.


The Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) will be invited to consider supporting those colleges which are judged ‘satisfactory but not improving’.  Ofsted would like to hear from all those interested in the development of the further education inspection system (consultation closes 9 March 2007).

Press release ~ Proportionate inspection of further education colleges: a consultation document ~ Quality Improvement Agency (QIA) ~ Independent review of the future role of FE colleges (2004) ~ Ofsted The Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools 2005/06 ~ FE sector: Jump in success rates ~ Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ Excellence Gateway a portal to share best practice ~ White Paper: 14-19 Education and Skills


DCMS:  Local authorities and other interested parties are being urged to comment on revised guidance on the new licensing laws which has been published for consultation (closes 11 April 2007).  The updated guidance offers advice & clarification for councils on a range of issues to help them to deliver the legislation effectively.


The revised draft is the second & final stage in the process of updating it and changes include:

·         greater emphasis that there should be no presumption in favour of longer opening hours

·         an expanded section on incidental music

·         a recommendation that personal licence holders should provide written, rather than verbal, authorisations for the sale of alcohol in their absence, and

·         a clarification of the role of councillors in the licensing process

Press release ~ Revised draft guidance to the Licensing Act 2003 ~ DCMS - Licensing Act 2003 ~ Scrutiny Councils evaluation of licensing regime


HMRC:  A consultation document (closes 13 March 2007) setting out how the Government proposes to update HM Revenue & Customs' criminal investigation powers and accompanying safeguards has been published.


An earlier consultation paper, published in August 2006, set out a new approach on HMRC criminal powers following its merger with Inland Revenue.  This consultation document includes draft clauses that give effect to that approach - modified in the light of consultation - and invites comments on them.  The document also contains a summary of responses to the August consultation.

Press release ~ Modernising powers, deterrents and safeguards: Criminal Investigation Powers ~ Review of HMRC Powers


DCLG:  The government is consulting (closes 13 April 2007) on its proposals to widen the scope & improve the delivery of its Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) programme by making the application process more flexible, easier and quicker.  Disabled people in all housing tenures can apply for a grant.


The Government's DFG programme provides nearly 35,000 grants each year in England to older and disabled people for housing adaptations such as ramps, lifts and level access showers.

Press release ~ Consultation paper: 'Disabled Facilities Grant Programme: The Government's proposals to improve programme delivery' ~ Local authorities' allocations of DCLG grant to be used for DFG ~ Reviewing the Disabled Facilities Grant Programme ~ WAG - DFG ~ Inclusion Scotland ~ Office for Disability Issues ~ National centre for independent living ~ Independent Living Institute ~ Independent Living Funds ~ Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) ~ DWP Research Report No.137 - Independent living in later life: a literature review ~ Supporting People website ~ Telecare: Using Information and Communication Technology to Support Independent Living by Older, Disabled and Vulnerable People ~ Telecare Collaborative ~ Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST)


DfES:  Reforms announced in the Government's Further Education White Paper last year, endorsed by Lord Leitch's report on skills, committed to a demand-led system to put ‘purchasing power for learning’ in the hands of the employers and individual learners.


The government now seeks views on what this will mean in practice for the FE system, claiming that its key measures will:

·         enable employers to determine the content of qualifications and advise on curriculum design, and

·         that funding will follow employers' demand and they will be able to choose their preferred suppliers.


Funding for adult and employer provision will depend on numbers of learners providers can attract.

Press release ~ Consultation: Delivering World-class Skills in a demand led System  Lord Leitch's report on skills  ~ Learning and Skills Council ~ Learning and Skills Council - Apprenticeships ~ White Paper, Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ Prospectus for the second round of the National Skills Academies programme ~ Sir Andrew Foster's report 'Realising the Potential: A review of the future of FE colleges' ~ Train to Gain ~ Automotive Academy ~ DTI - National Manufacturing Skills Academy ~ DTI – Manufacturing Forum ~ E2E – New horizons


DH:  Health Minister Andy Burnham has announced a consultation (closes 13 April 2007) on the Hospital Travel Cost Scheme (HTCS) following a commitment to expand the scheme to cover referrals by health care professionals in a primary care setting.


The HTCS provides financial assistance to patients on a low income who do not have a medical need for ambulance transport, but require financial assistance to meet the cost of travelling to hospital based services for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant.


A separate consultation (which ends on 16 February 2007) is currently on-going on non-emergency Patient Transport Services (PTS), which is provided free at the point of use to patients who have a medical need for transport to hospital.

Press release ~ HTCS consultation ~ Hospital travel costs scheme ~ Non-emergency Patient Transport Services (PTS) consultation ~ White Paper Our Health, Our care, Our Say ~ Macmillan Cancer Support ~ Driving change: Good practice guidelines for PCTs on commissioning arrangements for emergency ambulance services and non-emergency patient transport services


CC:  Charity Commission is consulting on Annual Returns – See – ‘Charity and Voluntary Sector’ section

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  Health minister Rosie Winterton has launched a new commissioning toolkit which is designed to help the local NHS improve eye care services in a way that:

·         keeps pace with a growing demand for eye care services as the number of older people increases over the next decade, and

·         makes better use of community-based ophthalmic services, including high street optometric practices, that are convenient and accessible for patients, and improves patient experience


In addition, the DH has recently completed a review of ophthalmic services, which found that there is clear potential for eye care professionals in primary care to work alongside hospitals in developing more responsive services for patients with eye conditions such as glaucoma.


There is also scope for greater collaboration between the NHS, social care and the third sector in providing integrated services for patients with low vision problems and in taking wider action to improve eye health.

Press release ~ Commissioning toolkit for community based eye care services ~ General ophthalmic services review  ~ DH - Ophthalmic Services ~ NHS EyeCare Services ~ Royal College of Ophthalmologists ~ Association of Optometrists ~ Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians ~ Association of British Dispensing Opticians ~ Royal National Institute of the Blind – Vision 2005 conference ~ Eyecare trust ~ Eyecare in Scotland ~ Natpac - Optometry


Annual Reports

FCO:  In a Written Ministerial Statement, the Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, has welcomed the recommendations on the thirteenth Report by an Independent Monitor.

Press release ~ Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance refusals without the right of appeal 2005 ~ UK Visas response ~ Independent Monitor ~ Do you need a UK visa?


MoD:  Foreign Office Minister Geoff Hoon has claimed that national and global security has been boosted by international co-operation to eliminate the legacy of Cold War weapons.  Launching the 2006 Annual Report on the Global Partnership at Chatham House, Mr Hoon highlighted the UK's close co-operation with Russia & former Soviet countries and announced a further £2m commitment to enhance physical protection of nuclear and radioactive materials in Central Asia.

The funding will be provided to the Nuclear Security Fund at the International Atomic Energy Agency.  It is aimed at improving physical security in line with international standards at key nuclear facilities in
Central Asia.  The projects will be managed by the IAEA in close collaboration with UK experts.

Press release ~ 2006 Annual Report on the Global Partnership ~ DTI - Nuclear Security ~ International Atomic Energy Agency ~ Action Plan on nuclear security

General Reports and other publications

Scottish Executive:  The Scottish Cabinet will get regular reports on how looked after children perform at school, as part of new actions to improve education for these youngsters, and a  national 'champion' will also work with councils to make sure they are providing the best possible education for children in care.


The measures, which were drawn up by a working group established to examine the education of looked after children, were announced by Education Minister Hugh Henry, following the publication of - Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better which includes recommendations for councils, teachers, social workers and health workers

Press release ~ Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better ~ Extraordinary Lives: Creating A Positive Future For Looked After Children and Young People in Scotland ~ Working Group 2002 Report ~ Recent statistics ~ Scotland - Barnardo's ~ Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' (COSLA's) ~ Types of ‘Looked After Children’ ~ National Statistics: Mental health of young people looked after by local authorities in Scotland ~ Children in Scotland ~ Who Cares? Trust ~ CAB - Children in need: being looked after by the local authority


HC:  The Healthcare Commission (HC) has released a report detailing how outmoded, institutionalised care had led to the neglect of people with learning disabilities at Sutton and Merton Primary Care NHS Trust.


The report described some of the environments in which people lived as impoverished and completely unsatisfactory.  Staff were not properly trained or supported to provide an acceptable level of care and inadequate levels of staff meant that people were often left day in day out with little to occupy their time.  There were failures in management and leadership at all levels, from managers to the Trust’s board.


The Commission’s report contains 25 recommendations and the Trust is required to prepare an action plan within nine weeks to address these.  The HC will closely monitor the trust during its implementation.

Press release ~ Sutton and Merton report ~ Cornwall report ~ Draft three year strategic plan for adults with learning disabilities 2006-2009 ~ On-going National Audit ~ Valuing People Support Team website


Defra:  A report setting out the TB Advisory Group's advice to Defra Ministers and the Chief Veterinary Officer on the practical delivery & impacts of pre-movement testing has been published by Defra.  The Group has made a number of practical recommendations to improve the delivery of pre-movement testing in the short term, and for consideration in the longer term.

Press release ~ TB Advisory Group ~ Pre-movement testing report 2006 ~ Defra – Pre-movement resting ~ National Beef Association ~ State Veterinary Service (SVS) ~ British Veterinary Association ~ Pre-movement testing in Wales ~ Badger Trust ~ Scottish Executive - FAQs


NAO:  The National Audit Office has reported that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had adequate evidence to assess the BBC’s efficiency as part of the DCMS’s consideration of the licence fee settlement.


As part of the process of setting the level of the television licence fee from April 2007, the Department has to make an assumption about the level of efficiency savings the BBC can deliver.

Press release ~ Full Report ~ Executive Summary


DfES:  Minister for Schools Jim Knight announced £10 million funding to help identify the next generation of school leaders and published a study - The Independent Study into School Leadership - which examines a range of current and new ideas & practices to boost school standards and deliver more effective management of schools through improved leadership models.


Against a background where modern school leaders are required to fulfil an increasing number of roles, such as accountant, architect and human resources manager, the report makes a number of key recommendations.

Press release ~ Independent Study into School Leadership (VLF 2.8Mb) ~ National College of School Leadership ~ NAHT ~ ASCL  ~ ATL ~ NASUWT ~ School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) ~ Guidance: ‘Looking for a bursar’ ~ Diploma of School Business Management (DSBM) ~ National Standards for Headteachers


HC:  The Healthcare Commission has found that NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in areas of deprivation are providing the best approach to reducing smoking levels.  The healthcare commission praises these PCTs and is encouraged to see that areas that need help to reduce smoking levels the most are receiving it.


Research shows people living in deprived areas are more likely to take up smoking, to start smoking younger and smoke more heavily, which contributes to poorer health. 

Press release ~ No ifs no buts: Improving services for Tobacco Control ~ Standard for training in smoking cessation treatments ~ Clearing the Air {in Scotland] ~ Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation ­ ~ ASH website ~ BUPA paper on passive smoking ~ Smoking and Health Inequalities ~ DH - Smoking ~ Stop smoking start living


LSC:  Funding from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is helping young parents to turn their lives around.  The Care to Learn scheme, which provides support & childcare costs so that young mums and dads can continue to study has, according to independent research, made a significant difference to thousands of people’s lives.


The independent report published by the Institute for Employment Studies shows that Care to Learn is persuading large numbers of young parents to remain in, or return to learning, as well as to achieve qualifications.  Almost 90% of parents on Care to Learn would not have returned to the classroom without it.

Press release ~  Impact of Care to Learn: Tracking the Destinations of Young Parents Funded in 2004/05 ~ Institute for Employment Studies ~ Learning and Skills Council (LSC) ~ Care to Learn scheme


NAO:  Ofwat has secured better data on the amount of water leaking from water companies’ systems, according a new NAO report, but there is uncertainty over the effectiveness of water efficiency projects that seek to help consumers waste less water.


To meet the future challenges of water supply, the NAO recommends that Ofwat should:

·         press water companies for improved data and push for a sustainable approach to leakage management

·         take a lead in ensuring that there is reliable evidence for the effectiveness of water efficiency projects, and

·         also assess companies’ progress on water efficiency programmes based on quality, the amount of water they save and number of consumers reached

NAO press release ~ CCWater press release ~ NAO: Meeting the Demand for Water ~ Executive Summary ~ Using Water Wisely ~ Using Water Wisely - quantitative research ~ Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) ~ The Sustainable Communities Plan ~ Leakage from public water supply – Environment Agency ~ Water Resource Use indicator ~ National Water grid ~ Water Saving Group ~ Water UK ~ Waterwise ~ BBC News: Q&A Compulsory water meters ~ Defra: Water conservation ~ Water Strategy: Directing the Flow - priorities for future water policy ~  Defra - Water Resources


Ofsted:  Three new reports from Ofsted look at on-the-job training, further education teacher training and the training of teachers for new vocational subjects.  The reports recommend improvements where needed.

Press release ~ An Employment-based route into teaching 2003-06 ~ The Initial Training of further education teachers ~ Initial teaching training in vocational subjects ~ TDA - Graduate teacher programme ~ Fast Track Teaching website ~ Teacher Training Agency ~ Early Headship Provision - NCSL~ Equal Access to Promotion - NCSL ~ BBC Q&A on becoming a teacher

Legislation / Legal

HMRC:  People who have made voluntary National Insurance (NI) contributions to make up for gaps in their records may be able to claim a refund if they made the contributions since 25 May 2006.


On 25 May 2006 the Government published its White Paper, Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system.  One of the proposals in this White Paper was to reduce the number of qualifying years needed to receive a full basic State Pension to 30 for those reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010.  The number of qualifying years currently required is 44 years for a man and 39 years for a woman.


This proposal is now being legislated for in the Pensions Bill which received its Second Reading on Tuesday 16 January.

Press release ~ White Paper, Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system ~ Pensions Bill ~ HMRC – National Insurance


Home Office:  Further government proposals for strong new measures to ‘crack down on serious crime’ have been set out by the Home Office in the Serious Crime Bill, including proposals to:

·         Introduce new civil Serious Crime Prevention Orders to prevent criminal activity by individuals or organisations by imposing conditions on them

·         Create new offences of encouraging or assisting another person to commit an offence, and

·         Combat fraud through greater controlled data-sharing within the public sector and between the private & public sectors

Press release ~ Serious Crime Bill ~ MI5 – working against serious crime ~ SOCA

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC:  The Charity Commission has launched a consultation (closes 19 March 2007) which proposes significant improvements to the Annual Return for 2007.  The changes will also develop the Commission's risk-based approach to monitoring with a new serious incident reporting function for charities.


The AR07 has been designed as an online process, allowing easier completion and overnight updating of the public Register.  Additionally, answers given in the Return will be used to create guidance links in real time, tailored to the charity's individual needs.


They are also proposing that charities with an income of over £250k join those under this threshold in no longer being asked for monitoring information.

Press release ~ Annual Returns: the way forward - a consultation ~ CC – Annual Returns

Business and other briefings

HMRC:  Contractors will receive a bumper New Year's package of help as they prepare for the launch by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) of the new Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) in April 2007.  It includes copies of key forms, step-by-step instructions for what contractors must do and helpful tips, so that they:

·         Understand the importance of knowing the employment status of their workers

·         Know how to tell whether subcontractors are to be paid gross or net

·         Prepare to make returns each month, and

·         Get ready to produce payment & deduction statements for those subcontractors from whom they make deductions


The helpline - 0845 366 7899 – is intended to help support businesses in the run-up to the new CIS scheme's introduction and is open 7 days a week from 8.00am to 8.00pm (excluding public holidays).

Press release ~ Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) ~ Employment status website ~ Presentations on new scheme (then click on link) ~ Employer Talk events ~ Business Advice Open Days ~ Scottish Building ~ Employment Status Indicator tool ~ NFB Training


HMRC:  New rates of interest have been announced by HM Revenue & Customs covering quarterly instalment payments and early payments of corporation tax not due by instalments, in respect of accounting periods ending on or after 1 July 1999, which take effect from 22 January 2007:

·         underpaid instalment payments of corporation tax changes from 6% to 6.25%

·         overpaid instalment payments of corporation tax, and on corporation tax paid early (but not due by instalments) changes from 4.75% to 5%

Press release ~ HMRC – Corporation Tax


HMRC:  A second consultation document setting out how the Government proposes to update HM Revenue & Customs' criminal investigation powers and accompanying safeguards has been published - See ‘Consultations Section’


HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 01/07
This Brief contains 1 article concerning the recently published decision of The Special Commissioners in Robert Gaines - Cooper v HMRC

HMRC:  Revenue & Customs Brief 02/07
This Brief contains 1 article concerning HM Revenue & Customs wanting to reduce the burdens of the biofuels regime for non-commercial producers.

Industry News

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