OFT:  Healthy profits when drugs are up to ten times more expensive - The OFT has recommended that the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) should be reformed, to ‘deliver better value for money from NHS drug spend and to focus business investment on drugs that have the greatest benefits for patients’.


The NHS spends about £8 billion a year on branded prescription medicines and the OFT's study identifies a number of drugs where prices are significantly out of line with patient benefits, including treatments for cholesterol, blood pressure and stomach acid.


Specifically, some drugs currently prescribed in large volumes are up to ten times more expensive than substitute treatments that deliver very similar benefits to patients.


The OFT estimates that it would release in the region of £500 million of expenditure that could be used more effectively, giving patients better access to medicines and other treatments which they may currently be denied for conditions such as cancer.

Press release ~ Market Study Report ~ OFT ~ Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) ~ Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry ~ Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) ~ The NHS Dictionary of Medicines and Devices ~ PPA -Drug Tariff Guidance ~ 'Better care, better value' indicators


DH:  More care promised but not until later this year - Formally launching details of the Government's New Deal for Carers, Ivan Lewis announced a range of measures (previously outlined in the Our Health, Our Care, Our Say White Paper launched in January) designed to recognise the essential work that carers carry out across the country, including:

·         providing short-term home based respite care for carers in crisis or emergency situations in every council

·         establishing a national helpline for carers

·         a review of the 1999 national carers strategy

·         support for the development of an experts carers programme


The Department of Health is currently working up a specification for the helpline with carers organisations and will let the contract later this year.


The Expert Carers programme (which will also be launched later this year) is intended to provide a service to meet the personal needs of carers, including; carers rights, stress management, services for carers, information for carers, communication skills and advocacy.  It will also provide skills to care as safely & effectively and possible, such as; moving & handling, first aid and medication.

Press release ~ Our Health, Our Care, Our Say White Paper  ~ Carers UK ~ Carers Rights Day ~ DH: Caring about Carers ~ Caring for someone : Directgov ~ Carers Information ~ Disabled Children (Short Breaks) Bill ~ Powys Carers Service ~ DWP: Caring for someone? ~ Carer's Allowance ~ The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act ~ Counsel & Care: Help and Advice for Older People ~ National strategy for Carers ~ Strategy for Carers in Scotland ~ BBC Moneybox item on need for joined-up approach for Carers Allowance


NAO:  Another ‘not fit for purpose’ crime-fighting organisation? - A report published by the National Audit Office found that the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) was set up without a feasibility study and has failed to achieve its targets for the recovery of criminal assets & for becoming self financing by 2005-06. However, the Agency has met its target for disrupting criminality.


The Agency has spent £65 million and recovered assets worth £23 million.  Although the Agency now expects to become self-financing by 2009-10, on current performance it is in danger of missing that target too.


The data the Agency collects & uses on cases is incomplete and held across several disparate databases and, as a result, the Agency could not conclusively say how many cases had been referred to it.  Case management is informal, with no targets for the completion of tasks and there is no time recording in place to assess the staff resources spent on each case.


Between September 2005 and September 2006 a quarter of the staff who had worked for the Agency had left.  In some specialist disciplines this figure was higher: in the same year, almost 50% of legal staff and 40% of training & development staff had left.

NAO press release ~ ARA press statement ~ NAO Report on Asset Recovery Agency ~ Executive Summary ~ Asset Recovery Agency ~ Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 ~ Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) ~ National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) ~ Written Ministerial Statement on proposals to merge ARA with SOCA and the NPIA


NAO:  Will City Academies provide the best chance for a ‘Blair legacy’? - A NAO report to Parliament concludes that if the trends in raising attainment continue, the Academies programme will meet its objective of raising attainment in deprived areas, as some of the main findings include:

·         Most academies have made good progress in improving GCSE results and the programme is on track to deliver good value for money

·         Performance is rising faster than in other types of schools although results in English and maths are low

·         Academies have cost more to build than other schools, but most academy buildings are high quality


The full impact of the first academies will not be known for several years because all pupils who have taken GCSEs in academies have spent time in other secondary schools, but evidence so far indicates that performance is improving compared with the predecessor schools.


Most academies’ results remain well below the national average, but good progress is being made towards that target and Academies are raising the achievements of pupils from deprived backgrounds.  Taking account of pupils’ personal circumstances and prior attainment, academies are performing substantially better than other schools.


Two thirds (17 out of 26) of the first academy buildings have suffered cost overruns averaging £3 million (the other nine were within their original budgets) and academies have cost an average of £24 million (£27 million for those that are entire new buildings) which makes them more expensive than other secondary schools.

Press release ~ NAO: The Academies Programme ~ Executive Summary ~ NAO:  Improving poorly performing schools in England ~ The Standards Site: Academies ~ Partnerships for Schools - Academies ~ NUT on the Web ~ Report on Secondary Education Fifth Report of Session 2004-05


DCLG:  Planning to watch an appealing movie tonight? - A new short film about the processing of planning appeals is now available to view on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.  It highlights to Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) & developers that the Inspectorate aims to fix all inquiry & hearings dates within targets set by Ministers and, over the last year, has more than halved the period within which typically such events are arranged.


It also reveals that the registration of new appeals is now up to date and the Inspectorate is on track to meet Ministerial targets for the current financial year, with the substantial backlogs of previous years behind it. 


Other key points are:

·         developers should avoid submitting appeals until they are ready with all necessary information

·         developers are urged to avoid "case creep": i.e. submitting major amendments to the appeal scheme at or close to the opening of the inquiry

·         appellants and LPAs are encouraged to fully agree Statements of Common Ground and submit them well before the start of the inquiry

·         parties should ensure that their Rule 6 Statements of case contain all of the required detail to inform the inquiry process

·         appellants and LPAs are advised to comply with the appeals timetable or face the Inspector determining the appeal on the material available

Press release ~ The Planning Inspectorate's film ~ Local Government Channel website  ~ Local Government Association Urban Conference and Exhibition ~ The Planning Inspectorate ~ Planning Portal – Appeals ~ National Standard Planning Application form  ~ DCLG – Reform of the planning system ~ Statements of Common Ground


CRC:  The Future Roles of Social Housing in England - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has welcomed publication of the findings of the independent review of social housing by Professor John Hills.  Rural communities just like others need a blend of social, intermediate and market housing, in order to support mixed & sustainable communities.


In this context, the CRC support the need for a re-assessment of the role of social housing in the 21st century and it is right that policy seeks to make sure that social tenants are not left behind by other asset owning members of society.


Where rural communities, particularly smaller villages and hamlets, do differ from towns & cities is that their stocks of social housing are significantly smaller.  In addition, housing in many rural areas is unaffordable and completely inaccessible to would-be first time buyers.


CRC research shows that, over the coming years, we can expect that some 45% of newly forming young rural households will not be able to access their local housing market.  In the most desirable communities, where in-migration and second home ownership are at their most significant, this figure is worse still.

Press release ~ Hills Review of social housing ~ CRC research - Calculating housing needs in rural England ~ CRC - Housing in Rural Areas ~ Affordable Rural Housing Commission ~ Taking forward the recommendations of the ARHC ~ Rural Services Review 2006 ~ Rural White Paper Our Countryside: the future ~ Rural Services standard ~ Affordable Rural Housing website ~ Planning for Sustainable Communities in Rural Areas ~ Report of the ARHC ~ Guardian article ~ Speech by Ruth Kelly


Home Office:  Government shoots from the hip at gun crime - The Home Secretary has announced a three-point plan following a gun crime summit at 10 Downing Street that is intended to:

·         ensure ‘tough’ punishments for those who use other people to look after weapons

·         improve technology for linking weapons to incidents and

·         increase funding for community groups


Alongside the measures outlined above, the Home Secretary announced a review of the legislation on gangs, guns & knives, focussing in particular on gangs.  The review will cover; sentencing policy generally, including in relation to juveniles, gun supply issues, gang membership and what new powers might be needed.


The Government will now focus on three main areas for action:

·         Policing - ensuring the police are equipped to tackle gun crime

·         Powers - giving the police and courts the powers to deal with offenders

·         Prevention - empowering communities to take action themselves to prevent gun crime & gang culture and offering support to parents to challenge their children's behaviour


In April the government will introduce a new offence of 'using someone to mind a weapon', meaning that people who pass weapons to girlfriends, younger siblings or other gang members will still face prosecution.


The Home Secretary also confirmed that he would lay a Parliamentary Order to ensure 18-20 year olds are subject to mandatory minimum five year sentences in the same way as over-21s and implement a ban on the sale, manufacture and importation of realistic imitation firearms later this year

Press release ~ Home Office - Community safety ~ Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) ~ Youth Justice Board ~ The Safer London Foundation ~ Met Police – Operations Tiger and Trafalgar ~ Met Police crime figures ~ MPA: Issues - Gun crime ~ Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) ~ The Connected Programme ~ The Connected Fund ~ The second Connected conference: Building on our work together to tackle guns, knives and gang-related crime in England and Wales


DH:  Trust me, I’m a health professional - The Government has published proposals - Trust, Assurance and Safety, The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century - on how to regulate health professionals and ensure patient safety in the UK and, as part of this all health professionals will be required to prove their fitness to practice every 5 years.


Patricia Hewitt also announced her intention to consult on proposals for an overhaul of the processes for death certification, a key recommendation of the Shipman Inquiry in order to ensure a unified system of death certification that provides much more effective scrutiny & stronger safeguards for the public.  A national advisory group will be set up to oversee the implementation of the White Paper and Shipman response. 


Proposals such as the development of standards and testing methods for revalidation, work to develop 3600 feedback tools, and secondary legislation to change the governance of the regulators will be implemented immediately.


Other areas such as the establishment of the General Pharmaceutical

General News

MoD:  An online auction website, which allows the public to bid for surplus Government equipment, including Green Goddess fire-trucks, has been launched by the Disposal Sales Agency which has expanded its existing website to include an on-line auction where potential buyers can bid & pay for ex-Government items online.


This approach maximises the amount of money returned to the taxpayer by reducing the cost of disposal, removing the need for a 'middle-man' contractor and ensuring the best possible price is received.  The auction website will also allow the public to buy equipment directly from contractors who supply the Government.

Press release ~ Disposal Services Agency (DSA) ~ www.edisposals.com (and click on the "auctions" link) ~ Defence Logistics Organisation


RAEng:  The Royal Academy of Engineering has opened up its prestigious poster competition to all UK Engineering Departments for the first time.  Previously, the competition, which has two distinct categories, Design for Sustainable Development and Design for Integrated Systems, has only been open to universities involved in its Visiting Professorship schemes.


Participating universities are required to hold their own internal competition and then, from their own heat, they then enter one or two posters into the National Final which will be held at Loughborough University in July during the 5th International Conference on Design and Manufacture for Sustainable Development.


A declaration of intent to run an internal competition should be communicated to the Academy by the 7 May with the final closing date for entries being 4 July 2007.


An overall winner for the best design poster will be awarded a £1,500 cash prize and three other prizes of £500 will be awarded to the three entries judged to be the best examples of: Design for Sustainable Development, Integrated System Design, and Most Innovative Design.

Press release ~ The RAEng Student Design Poster Competition 2007 ~ Visiting Professors Scheme ~ 5th International Conference on Design and Manufacture for Sustainable Development ~  Engineering_for_Sustainable_Development


Defra:  Sewers & lateral drains which are currently the responsibility of the owners of the properties they serve are to be transferred into the ownership of the nine statutory water and sewerage companies (WaSCs) in England.


It's estimated that up to 50% of properties connect to private sewers in some form or another and that most other properties connect to a public sewer by means of a lateral drain.  The costs of transfer (estimated between £3 & £11p.a. per household) will be met by an increase in the sewerage element of bills.


The Government intends to launch a public consultation to seek views on how the transfer should be implemented.  The consultation will also be used to examine how to prevent the proliferation of new private sewers, in order to prevent the recurrence of existing problems.

Defra press release ~ CCWater press release ~ Defra: Private sewers ~ Consumer Council for Water ~ Some Q&As ~ Ofwat - Water & Sewerage companies


MCA:  A new-look UK Ship Register has been launched by Shipping Minister Stephen Ladyman after a complete review of customer service provided by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).  Major changes being introduced include; Dedicated Customer Account Managers, 24-hour assistance, a new interactive website and On-line registration.

Press release ~ UK Ship Register ~ MCA

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Scottish Executive:  A strategic plan outlining how the government will target financial support to benefit rural Scotland over the next seven years was published last week.


Scotland's Rural Development Programme will be submitted to the EC once the voluntary modulation regulation is adopted.  Funding of the SRDP is dependent on adoption of the voluntary modulation regulations.

Press release ~ strategic plan ~ voluntary modulation regulations (scroll down to Q15) ~ SE – Rural Development ~ Draft Crofting Bill ~ Scottish Crofting Foundation ~ Scottish Executive Agriculture website


OGC:  The Office of Government Commerce has outlined plans for the effective management of the Government's Estate as an integral element of Transforming Government Procurement.


Opportunities have been identified for realising savings of between £1bn and £1.5bn a year by 2013 through reduction and rationalisation of the Government's holdings, through relocation from London and the South East and through improved procurement of facilities management and leases.

Press release ~ OGC's Property Benchmarking service ~ Transforming Government Procurement ~ OGC - High Performing Property ~ Sustainable operations on the Government estate ~ Energy Efficiency in the Government Estate ~ Lyons review


DTI:  Plans to protect vulnerable agency workers and clamp down on rogue companies have been set out in a Government consultation (closes on 31 May 2007).  There are currently 1.4 million temporary workers, including agency workers, in the UK and, according to DTI research, there are approximately 600,000 agency workers, with the agency sector turning over £24.8bn in 2005/06.


Measures set out in the consultation document include:

·         Giving workers a clear right to withdraw from accommodation, transport or other services provided by an agency without suffering any detriment

·         Plans to alert potential migrant workers to their rights & highlight unscrupulous practices

·         Making clear in guidance that driving agencies who flout the law & knowingly allow drivers to work beyond their hours can face criminal prosecution

·         Banning the taking of fees on the day where talent agencies hold open call castings

·         Defining in law what can be included as a reasonable cost when a talent agency seeks a fee for including an individual's details in a publication in addition to providing work-finding services

Press release ~ Consultation on measures to protect vulnerable agency workers ~ Information campaign for would be models and entertainers – Top Tips ~ DTI - Employment Agency Standards ~ DTI - Complaint about an employment agency ~ Conduct of Employment Agencies ~ Protecting vulnerable workers, supporting good employers ~ Agency workers' health and safety - Business Link ~ Agency workers - Directgov ~ Success at Work ~ Initial Regulatory Impact Assessment ~ Employment Status Review: Summary of Responses ~ How Have Employees Fared? Recent UK Trends ~ HMRC – Agency workers


Scottish Executive:  A consultation (being run by Communities Scotland) has begun (closes on 15 May 2007) in Scotland on new draft regulations which require houses for sale to be marketed with both a Single Survey and a Property Sale Questionnaire before an offer can be made.


The Single Survey will give buyers & sellers information about condition & value and include an energy consumption report on the property.  It aims to reduce the amount of money being wasted on multiple surveys and valuations.


The Property Sale Questionnaire will give buyers, solicitors and surveyors information about a property, such as; council tax band, parking facilities, local authority permissions & notices, factoring arrangements and alterations

Press release ~ Consultation ~ Communities Scotland ~ Single Survey Steering Group Website ~ Scottish Executive's Housing Improvement Task Force ~ Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 ~ CAB: Buying a House in Scotland  ~ The Law Society of Scotland ~ The Scottish Consumer Council ~ The Council of Mortgage Lenders ~ The National Association of Estate Agents ~ The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors


DfT:  Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman has launched a consultation (closes on 17 May 2007) on the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), and how it will operate.  The Obligation means that by 2010, 5% of all the fuel sold on UK forecourts will come from a renewable source, which is predicted to save 1million tonnes of carbon a year.


The consultation focuses on:

·         The detailed design of the scheme and which suppliers will be affected;

·         How suppliers of renewable fuel would report on the carbon savings and wider impacts of those fuels;

·         How the RTFO might develop after 2010/11

Press release ~ Consultation on the draft Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations Order ~ Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) ~ Renewable biofuels for transport ~ Factsheet about Biofuels inputs-based production ~ Towards a UK Strategy for Biofuels Consultation - Responses ~ International resource costs of biodiesel and bioethanol ~ EU Biofuels directive ~ Defra Biofuels website (Scroll down)  

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DCLG:  A draft guide has been published to help planners better understand how planning policy should be used to manage flood risk, as climate change continues to impact on traditional weather patterns.


The 'living draft' of a Practice Guide Companion to Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25) is intended to act as a consultation document as well as an interim support document for planners on applying PPS25 policy and seeks to help create consistency in how PPS25 is implemented across the country.  The final version of the Practice Guide is expected to be issued later in the year, following a series of regional workshops organised by the RTPI (still to be arranged).

Press release ~ Practice Guide Companion to Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25) ~ Other related documents ~ Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) ~ Defra - Urban Flood Risk and Integrated Drainage ~ Foresight study on Food & Coastal Defence ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme – Scenarios Gateway ~ Sewer Flooding - Your Questions Answered ~ Sewer Flooding Best Practice Register ~ Defra Flood management website ~ 'Making Space for Water' ~ ABI Flooding & Insurance website (includes ABI principles) ~ Flooding in Scotland ~ National Appraisal of Assets at Risk of Flooding and Coastal Erosion in England and Wales ~ Flood Ranger ~ Direct Gov Flooding website ~ Institute of Civil Engineers – Engineering skills for flood risk management ~ Atlantis Initiative ~ Environment Agency ~ Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Innovation Fund ~ Defra Flood Management - Project Appraisal Guidance


DH:  Rosie Winterton, MP, called for ‘rapid improvement in the way mental health services respond to the needs of BME patients’, when launching 'Positive Steps' a new resource for health professionals at the Delivering Race Equality in Mental Healthcare (DRE) Conference in Coventry.


The guide - which highlights good practice that already exists in the mental healthcare system - is part of the Government's five-year drive (Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care) to further improve services for these patients. 


The guide also incorporates key mental health issues and religious & cultural needs for different ethnic groups, using needs for South Asian, African and Caribbean groups as examples.  It also includes an extensive list of useful contacts, organisations and resources.

Press release ~ Positive Steps: Supporting race equality in mental healthcare ~ Delivering Race Equality in Mental Healthcare (DRE) Conference ~ DRE Content Management System ~ Action Plan ~ 2006 Conference Abstract Handbook ~ BME Mental Health Network ~ DH: Black and Minority Ethnic Mental Health programme ~ Kings Fund ~ Race equality impact assessment: Healthcare statistics


DCA:  A guide for people making decisions on behalf of those who lack the capacity to do so has been laid in Parliament by Constitutional Affairs Minister Cathy Ashton.  The code sets out good practice and covers an extensive range of different decisions that might need to be taken.


The Mental Capacity Act 2005 requires a range of people to 'have regard' to the code, for example anyone acting in a professional or paid role in relation to someone who lacks capacity.


The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a statutory framework for people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions.  It sets out who can take decisions, in which situations and how they should go about this.  It also enables people to make provision for a time in the future when they may lack capacity to make some decisions.

Press release ~ Code of Practice ~ Other Guidance Booklets ~ DCA -  Mental capacity ~ DCA - Mental Capacity Act 2005 ~ Mental Capacity Act 2005 - Best Practice Tool ~ Public Guardianship Office (PGO) ~ Mind website ~ Advocacy Matters ~ Speaking Up ~ FAQs on Lasting Powers of Attorney, etc. ~ Planning ahead - a guide for people who wish to prepare for possible future incapacity ~ DH Mental Health ~ Protecting the vulnerable: the Bournewood consultation - summary of responses ~ Turning point view on Bournewood ~ Mental Health Review Tribunal ~ National Institute of Mental Health ~ Mental Health Review Tribunal ~ Consultation paper: Court of Protection Rules of practice and procedure ~ Government response to the Lasting Powers of Attorney - forms and guidance consultation 


Healthcare Commission:  Key healthcare organisations have made a public commitment to working together to improve the safety of care received by patients, at a summit hosted by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) and the Healthcare Commission.


The summit was intended to reinforce the message that the safety of patients is at the heart of healthcare and that all organisations involved in the provision of care have a role to play in achieving this.


As a response to Safety first, the recently published report from the Department of Health, the NPSA and Healthcare Commission have jointly drawn up a charter of commitment & action, which identifies several key actions which signatories will commit themselves too.

Press release ~ A charter for the safety of patients ~ Safety first: a report for patients, clinicians and healthcare managers ~ Healthcare Commission  ~ National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) ~ DH – Patient Safety ~ NAO:  A Safer Place for Patients: Learning to improve patient safety ~ 'Coding for success - simple technology for safer patient care' ~ Building a safer NHS for patients ~ An organisation with a memory ~ National Reporting and Learning System ~ Being open - communicating patient safety incidents with patients and their carers ~ Seven Steps to Patients Safety ~ Improving Quality and Safety - Progress in Implementing Clinical Governance in Primary Care: Lessons for the New Primary Care Trusts ~ Memorandum of understanding: Investigating patient safety incidents involving unexpected death or serious untoward harm ~ Reporting suspected adverse drug reactions

Annual Reports

General Reports and other publications

DTI:  A new study examining how the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) manages & uses science as part of its planning and policy-making has been published.  It commends HSE's recent work to strengthen its management systems for commissioning research and its open publication system.


It also recognises that, where appropriate, HSE is prepared & able to challenge established orthodoxy regarding the science supporting health & safety issues, both nationally and internationally.  It develops, conducts and uses high-quality, groundbreaking, well-reviewed scientific evidence to support its position, and engages in external debate of the findings & implications.


The report, among other things:

·         Recommends that the size & balance of the scientific expertise within HSE and its in-house agency, the Health and Safety Laboratory, is strategically reviewed on a regular basis

·         Emphasises the need for good knowledge management

·         Identifies some systems that would benefit from being strengthened

Press release ~ HSE - Science and research ~ Review Report ~ Health & Safety Laboratory


DCLG:  Communities and Local Government Minister Angela Smith has welcomed the progress that has been made in increasing the sustainability of buildings as acknowledged in two Parliamentary reports recently published.


The reports on the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act 2004 and the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006 highlight action that Government has already taken such as the Code for Sustainable Homes and outline future plans including the Review of Existing Buildings, which will examine how to improve energy & water efficiency as well as looking at the impacts on climate change of all existing stock.

Press release ~ Monitoring the Sustainability of Buildings  ~ Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act: Baseline Key Performance Indicators  ~ Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act: Impact of Policy Measures ~ Plans & programme ~ Current Water Efficiency Consultation (closes 9 March 2007) ~ Building Regulation Part L: Conservation of fuel and power


Defra:  Defra has published its response to the independent review of the National Fallen Stock Scheme and Company carried out last year by Bob Bansback.

Press release ~ Independent review of the National Fallen Stock Scheme and Company (VLF 2.2Mb) ~ Government response ~ National Fallen Stock Company and the National Fallen Stock Scheme ~ Defra – Fallen Stock ~ EU Animal By-Products Regulation


PO:  The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has published her report - Put together in haste: 'Cod Wars' trawlermen's compensation scheme - of her investigation into the Icelandic trawlermen's compensation scheme, which she described as 'set up to fail'.


The scheme was set up by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2000 to compensate former UK-based Icelandic water trawlermen who had lost their livelihoods as a result of the settling of the 'Cod Wars' with Iceland in the 1970s.  But the Ombudsman found that the scheme failed to deliver.


Ms Abraham made three findings of maladministration causing injustice to the complainants and to others in a similar position:

·         the scheme was devised & launched before it was appropriate to do so

·         there was a mismatch between what the scheme was intended to deliver and what it was capable of delivering through the scheme rules

·         the problems identified during the operation of the scheme should have led to a comprehensive review of the scheme


As a result of her reports, the Government has accepted the Ombudsman's recommendation that it should develop central guidance for public bodies about the development and operation of ex-gratia compensation schemes.  This will be incorporated into the revision of the Treasury's manual, Government Accounting, which is due to be published later this year.

Press release ~ Put together in haste: 'Cod Wars' trawlermen's compensation scheme ~ Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman ~ A Debt of Honour ~ HM Treasury's manual -  Government Accounting

Legislation / Legal

DCA:  The public are invited to the second open meeting of the Family Procedure Rule Committee (FRPC) on 2 April 2007 in Central London, which is being held to give the public the opportunity to see law making in action.


Spaces for the meeting are limited so those interested in attending are asked to fill in a short application form, available from judith.evers@hmcourts-service.gsi.gov.uk.


The meeting will look at the programme to introduce a modernised set of Family Procedure Rules.  There will be a short question & answer session where guests will be able to ask pre-submitted questions to the panel.

Press release ~ Family Procedure Rule Committee (FRPC) ~ Family Procedure Rules - a new procedural code for family proceedings  ~ Guidance on disclosing information about Family Proceedings involving children which are heard in private ~ DCA Family matters website ~ False Allegations Support Organisation ~ Times online ~ Parent Protest Group


Home Office:  New rules to crack down on people who obstruct emergency workers came into force on 20 February 2007.  The new offences means that anyone who gets in the way of an emergency worker responding to emergency situations can now be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.


The emergency workers covered by this new offence are: firefighters, ambulance workers, people transporting blood, organs or equipment on behalf of the NHS, coastguards and lifeboat crews


The offence applies in England & Wales and it also applies in Northern Ireland to ambulance services, people transporting blood organs and equipment, coastguards and lifeboat crews.

Press release ~ Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Act 2006 ~ Home Office Circular 003 / 2007 ~ Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005 ~ FBU comment


DCA:  The government has claimed that vulnerable people who have fallen into debt will be better protected from unscrupulous bailiffs thanks to its proposed reforms in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill, which is intended to create a national framework to regulate all enforcement agents, including bailiffs, who are not Crown employees.


In future, they will all have compulsory criminal record checks, be subject to the same complaints system and have to hold a certificate issued by a county court judge.  In the longer term, the Government is looking at regulation by an outside body, with the preferred option of using the Security Industry Authority.


Under the Bill, enforcement agents who break the law could face a fine of up to £5,000 or damages, as well as suspension or cancellation of their certificate to prevent them continuing to operate.


The Bill, which had its third reading in the House of Lords this week, also introduces:

·         a consolidated code of enforcement agent law, and

·         a simplified fee structure that will help to stamp out abuse in this area


In addition, the Government is already in the process of consulting on longer-term options for the regulation of enforcement agents in a consultation paper issued on 30 January 2007 and which closes on 25 April 2007.

Press release ~ Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill ~ DCA - Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill ~ Directgov: Rights & responsibilities when bailiffs and other enforcement agents call ~ Consultation on longer-term options for the regulation of enforcement agents ~ Security Industry Authority ~ National Debtline ~ Current National Standards for Enforcement Agents ~ Directgov – Managing debt ~ Young people and their financial information needs (VLF) ~ OFT – Be choosy about credit website ~ At a credit crossroads? ~ Consumer Credit Counselling Service ~ Consumer education Alliance ~ FSA: Money made clear ~ DTI - Over Indebtedness ~ BBC Debt Test

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

MCA:  A pioneering EU-funded project to promote the innovative use of multi-national maritime search & rescue (SAR) resources when dealing with major coastal inundation, caused by events such as tsunamis and tidal surges, has been launched in London.


EU FloodCommand is a joint UK, Irish and Swedish project aimed at raising awareness & providing a framework for closer cooperation in the use of maritime SAR for civil protection, through the sharing of information and the development of systems & protocols.


The objective is to create a European Maritime SAR Response Module - improving capacity, speed & effectiveness of response for dealing with major coastal inundation disasters.  A technology development program will put in place an Extranet for the alerting, deployment & tasking of Maritime SAR assets.


Preparations are now under way for the EU FloodCommand initial Conference & Workshop, which will be held in the UK in the second week of May 2007.

Press release ~ EU FloodCommand ~ Conference & Workshop contact: conference@eufloodcommand.eu ~ UK (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) ~ MCA - Lessons Learned from Incidents and Exercises ~ Maritime Incident Response Group ~ UK Civil Contingencies Secretariat ~ Sweden (Swedish Rescue Services Agency) ~ Ireland (Irish Coast Guard) ~ VectorCommand Ltd

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC:  Over 60% of charities with annual income over £500k deliver public services on behalf of public authorities, but over 40% of all charities doing so are not paid the full cost involved, according to survey results published by the Charity Commission.


Stand and deliver: the future for charities delivering public services presents the results of the first ever all-charity survey into charities delivering public services, covering areas ranging from full-cost recovery to length of funding agreements and its findings include:

·         Over two thirds of all funding agreements for public service delivery are for only one year

·         Only 12% of charities say they achieve full cost recovery for all public services they deliver

·         Only 26% of charities delivering public services felt they were free to make decisions without pressure to conform to their funders' wishes

·         67% of charities over £10 million that deliver public services rely on it for 80% -100% of their funding

·         64% of charities not currently delivering public services would not consider doing so within the next 12 months


The report's publication coincides with new Commission guidance for charities considering this type of work -Charities and public service delivery.

Press release ~ Stand and deliver: the future for charities delivering public services ~ Charities and public service delivery: an introduction and overview (CC37) ~ Directory of Social Change ~ Third sector market mapping report ~ Financial relationships with third sector organisations - NAO ~ Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) ~ Office of the Third Sector ~ Full cost recovery website ~ National Council for Voluntary Organisations ~ National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service (NACVS) ~ Mind the Gap: A funders’ guide to full cost recovery

Business and other briefings

Scottish Executive:  Scotland must step up its involvement in China if it is to make the most of the opportunities offered by one of the world's fastest growing economies, First Minister Jack McConnell said recently in a speech to business leaders as part of CBI Scotland's China Challenge Conference in Edinburgh.

Press release ~ First Minister's speech ~ Scotland’s China Strategy ~ CBI Scotland ~ SE – Business & Industry ~ Scottish Development International ~ Futureskills Scotland ~ Scottish Futures Forum ~ Scotland China Association ~ Scotland Is The Place - China Consulting ~ Scotland meets China - British Council Scotland


FSA:  The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has confirmed it will merge the customer functions in its Approved Persons regime into a new single category, following strong support, from the industry, for the proposal.


The change eliminates the need for firms to submit a form when an employee already approved for a customer function within that firm wants to move between customer functions or add a customer function to one already held.  This gives firms administrative savings and added flexibility to respond to their business needs.


The merger of customer functions will come into effect on 1 November 2007 at the same time as other Handbook changes relating to the implementation of the Market in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID).

Press release ~ PS 07/04 Reforming the Approved Persons Regime ~ CP06/15 Reforming the Approved Persons Regime: Consultation an Feedback to CP05/10 ~ Consultation Paper 05/10 Reviewing the Handbook ~ Market in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID)

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