Scottish Executive: Fair Trade Fortnight, a series of events to raise awareness of ways to encourage fair working conditions and fair prices for goods produced by workers in developing countries, is currently under way and runs from 26 February - 11 March.
Last month International Development Minister, Patricia Ferguson, addressed over 150 organisations and individuals at a conference in Perth, which was the first step to creating a Scottish Fair Trade Forum. Once created, it will include representation from across Scotland and interest groups drawn from education, retail and local action groups.
Press release ~ Fair Trade: The steps Scotland needs to take ~ One World Shop - Fair Trade in Scotland ~ IFAT ~ The Fairtrade Foundation ~ British Association for Fair Trade Shops ~ Oxfam – Fair Trade ~ Oxfam GB - Student's Guide to Fair Trade ~ Traidcraft: Fighting Poverty Through Trade ~ BBC NEWS - How fair is Fairtrade? ~ Fairtrade: Christian Aid Campaigns
Defra: UK retailers have agreed to reduce the overall environmental impact of their carrier bags by 25% by supporting a national campaign together with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme).
Retailers will be reducing the environmental impact of bags by:
· encouraging customers to reduce significantly the number of carrier bags they use
· reducing the impact of each carrier bag (e.g. by using less material or incorporating recycled content) and
· enabling the recycling of more carrier bags where appropriate & encouraging carrier bag re-use
If achieved, the 25% reduction target could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 58,500 tonnes a year - equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road for a year. Progress will be monitored jointly by the retailer signatories, government and WRAP and a review will be completed before the end of 2008 to see what would be required to make further reductions by 2010.
Press release ~ British Retail Consortium (BRC) ~ WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) ~ Choose to Reuse Report - WRAP ~ Tools for Change - WRAP ~ BBC NEWS - Irish bag tax hailed success ~ Defra – Plastic bags ~ BBC - h2g2 - How to Make a Plastic Bag Bra - A450587 ~ Scottish Executive - Plastic Bag Levy report ~ Environmental Levy on Plastic Bags (Scotland) Bill
DCMS: The Government is to accept all the recommendations of the independent Casino Advisory Panel on the location of 17 new casinos - including the one regional casino in Manchester – and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has formally laid a single draft order, as the first stage in the process to ask Parliament to approve the panel's recommendations.
The order confirms the seventeen local authorities who would be permitted to issue premises licences for the three types of new casino (regional, large and small) permitted by the Gambling Act 2005 and it will be debated by both Houses of Parliament. Parliament may only approve or reject the order, it may not amend it.
Press release ~ Casino Advisory Panel ~ CAP Final report ~ Gambling Act 2005 - Code of practice for determining applications for casino premises licences ~ DCMS Gambling
Defra: Defra has announced changes to the disease control measures put in place to tackle the H5N1 outbreak in Suffolk. From1 March 2007, the specific Protection Zone (PZ) restrictions have been removed and it will become part of the wider Surveillance Zone (SZ). In addition, the requirement to house birds within all of the zones, including the Restricted Zone, will be lifted.
Defra has carried out enhanced surveillance of 148 premises of live poultry (including testing ducks & geese), tested approximately 64 dead wild birds within the zones and tested faecal samples from the environment around the infected premises. This has not revealed the presence of disease outside the affected premises.
Press release ~ information on the restrictions that still apply ~ Defra - Disease surveillance and control - Avian Influenza ~ DH Flu website ~ DH – Pandemic Flu ~ Bird flu and pandemic influenza: what are the risks? ~ Current Contingency Plan ~ Food Standards Agency ~ Health Protection Agency ~ Meat Hygiene Service
Land Registry: The January House Price Index shows that 2007 has begun with another rise in house prices for England and Wales. The first month of the year demonstrates an annual house price increase of 7.7% and a monthly increase of 0.9%. This increase has led to the average property now being worth £174,827.
Press release ~ January House Price Index
DfT: Proposals for a fundamental overhaul of driver training & testing have been announced by Road Safety Minister Dr Stephen Ladyman at a recent RoSPA Road Safety Congress. The new approach to educating young people about road safety & teaching them to drive, will include the; introduction of a new competency & knowledge framework, a modern training syllabus and new assessment criteria.
A newly published Three Year Review sets out the framework for delivering the government’s 2010 targets and it includes:
· Increased enforcement combined with continued educative publicity on important issues
· A complete overhaul of the way people learn & maintain safe driving skills - starting from an early age
· Consistent speed limits across the country by 2011 and further encouragement of 20pmh limits
· Informing consumers about the safety benefits of accident avoidance technologies to help them make more informed choices when buying a car
· Helping local authorities to deliver improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists
· Continuing to work with motorcycling industry and users to implement the Motorcycling Strategy
The government will also set up a new national Road Safety Delivery Board to bring together representatives of their key delivery partners.
Also published was the Child Road Safety Strategy 2007 which sets out an action plan of measures to help reduce child casualties further between now and 2010.
Press release ~ Three Year Review of Road Safety Strategy ~ Child Road Safety Strategy 2007 ~ Tomorrow's roads - Safer for Everyone ~ Government's Motorcycling Strategy ~ RoSPA Road Safety Congress ~ Driving Standards Agency (DSA) ~ Road Safety Act 2006 ~ DfT – Road Safety
Scottish Executive: Over the next three years, the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will work with a range of bodies such as the Waste and Resources Action Programme, to halt & reverse the current trend of rising household waste.
The plan is to cut the annual 2.8 million tonnes of household waste by a quarter of a million tonnes, but it does not include proposals to introduce direct charges for householders for the general uplifting of waste.
Key points from the 20-point Household Waste Prevention Action Plan include:
· Reducing food waste by 35,000 tonnes through better awareness, packaging & marketing
· Cutting unwanted mail by 10% (saving 18,000 tonnes)
· Reusing more of the products we throw away (saving 34,000 tonnes)
· Reducing excess packaging & developing lighter packaging (saving 62,000 tonnes)
· Encouraging home composting to divert 71,000 more tonnes from landfill
· Building sustainable design into products & giving better information on the lifespan of key household products (2,000 tonnes)
Press release ~ Household Waste Prevention Action Plan ~ Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) ~ Waste Minimisation - SEPA ~ Waste and Resources Action Programme ~ Scottish Retail Consortium ~ British Retail Consortium ~ Scottish Waste Aware Group (SWAG) ~ Waste Aware Scotland: Home Composting ~ The Composting Association - Scotland Branch ~ Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS) ~ Momenta ~ INCREASE ~ Ecoschools Programme ~ Controlled Waste Regulations 1992
DCLG: Local authorities across England are to be awarded £316 million for encouraging business growth, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas and Treasury Minister John Healey have announced.
The Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme (LABGI) is intended to deliver financial rewards directly to local authorities that promote the greatest levels of continued economic growth in their local areas by allowing them to retain increases in revenue derived from business rates. The money is claimed to be ‘genuinely additional’ and the scheme encourages local authorities to build partnerships with local business and promote long-term economic sustainability in their areas.
Press release ~ Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme (LABGI)
Home Office: The independent Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) has published their 2007 recommendations, which included the restructuring of the pay scale for prison officers to a new 7-point scale and a restructuring of the pay ranges for Governors & other operational managers within a new 21-point spine.
Other key recommendations are:
· Required Hours Addition for operational managers to be uprated by 2.5%
· The 'Operation Tornado' emergency response payment to prison officers to be uprated to £18 per hour
· On call allowances & dirty protest payment uprated by 2.5%
· A 2.5% increase to the basic pay rates of principal and senior prison officers, prison officers on the existing second Long Service incremental pay point and unified support grades
Most recommendations will be implemented from 1 April 2007, but the last one above will be paid in two stages; 1.5% will be paid from 1 April 2007, with the balance to 2.5% paid from 1 November 2007.
Press release ~ Sixth report of the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) (& scroll down) ~ Prison Officers Association ~ HM Prison Service
Natural England: Natural England has welcomed the publication of the Assessor's report to the South East Plan Examination in Public Panel to examine the effect of proposed housing development on the internationally important wildlife of the Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area (SPA), as it believes that the report (following the technical inquiry) provides a balanced view.
Natural England has argued that increasing the local population close to the heathland would threaten the survival of rare birds like the ground-nesting Dartford warbler, woodlark and nightingale. The Assessor recognised the risk that large scale housing poses for the SPA and his report is an important step forward in developing appropriate solutions.
Press release ~ South East EiP - Examination in Public of the Regional Spatial Strategy - Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area ~ Report to the Panel ~ SEERA ~ Background paper
NAO: The Shareholder Executive has improved government’s performance as owner of public businesses and is already producing some real financial gains for the public sector, according to a report by the National Audit Office. But increasing the Executive’s powers, such as expanding its remit to cover all public sector businesses and giving it greater independence, could enhance its future effectiveness.
Government owns or part owns a number of businesses, some of which provide critical public services, including the maintenance of a postal network covering the entire population. These companies in 2005 had a combined turnover well in excess of £25 billion and include BNFL, CDC, NATS, QinetiQ, Royal Mail and Royal Mint.
Press release ~ Full Report ~ Executive Summary ~ Shareholder Executive
WAG: Minister for Equalities and Children, Jane Hutt, has welcomed a report that emphasises the importance of equal opportunities for disabled young people that will enable them to lead active lives as young citizens.
The report from the Welsh Assembly’s Equality of Opportunities Committee - ‘Why is it that disabled young people are always left until last?’ - was published last month and focuses particularly on education, training & employment, housing and transport.
Press release ~ Why is it that disabled young people are always left until last? ~ Summary version ~ DRC - Wales ~ WAG - Disability ~ My Orange Book ~ Are you listening? - What disabled children and young people in Wales think about the services they use (VL File 2.3Mb) ~ "What do children in special circumstances think of services" (VL File 2.4Mb) ~ Social Model of Disability ~ Accessible Venues Guidance ~ Disability Wales ~ Mainstreaming Equality in the Welsh Assembly Government ~ Equal Opportunities Committee ~ Communities @One
DWP: Ethnic minorities continue to face an employment gap according to new research published by the Department for Work and Pensions, which analyses the probability of being in employment based on different combinations of ethnic and religious group.
The report finds that for women, the employment penalties faced by Muslims of all ethnic backgrounds are higher than the penalty for any ethnic group of no religion.
Press release ~ Persistent Employment Disadvantage (2.3Mb) ~ 'Engaging with Muslim Women' ~ Shaping a Fairer Future ~ EOC Interim Report - Moving on Up? ~ Ethnic Minority Advisory Group (EMAG) ~ 'Enterprising People, Enterprising Places'
Defra: An independent report by Cranfield University on business continuity management in the food & drink industry has been published and it concludes that the drive for efficiency and the ‘Just-in-Time’ philosophy has progressively reduced stock levels throughout the supply chain with consequences for its resilience.
The security of the supply chain as a whole is therefore more dependent on the availability of a range of sources & supply routes.
Press release ~ Resilience in the food chain: a study of business continuity management in the food and drink industry ~ Food Security: An evidence and analysis paper ~ RuSource briefing ~ DfT - Supply Chain Resilience ~ Cranfield Supply Chain Research Centre ~ Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group (FCELG) [scroll down] ~ Chatham House project ~ Generic Challenges to Business Continuity ~ UK Resilience
DCA: Announcements on the future of family legal aid have been made by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) and it is also announcing a six week consultation (closes 16b April) on its detailed family proposals.
Alongside the new fee schemes, the LSC has also published its five year plan for family legal aid provision, Making Legal Rights a Reality for Children and Families, which sets out that children and adults at risk of abuse will have the highest priority for legal services.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Making Legal Rights a Reality for Children and Families (& click on link) ~ Legal Services Commission (LSC) ~ Legal Aid Reform: The Way Ahead
DCA: An experimental scheme that began in April 2006 at five Crown courts - the Old Bailey, Birmingham, Manchester Crown Square, Cardiff and Winchester - has seen all families in homicide cases being asked if they would like to make a statement in court, or write it & have a lawyer or other person read it out, after conviction, but before sentencing.
From the first 21 families to take up the offer, seventeen statements have been read out at the trial, with four families asking the judge to read their statement in private.
Press release ~ Hearing the Relatives of Murder and Manslaughter Victims ~ Home Office - Restorative justice ~ Justice & Victims Unit Website ~ Victim section of CJS Online ~ Victims of crime : Directgov
HM Treasury: The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ed Balls, and Home Office Minister, Tony McNulty, have launched the Government's strategy to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The strategy sets out a series of new measures & key priorities for the future, designed to increase the use the financial system as a weapon against international crime & terrorism, including consultation with the charitable sector on measures to keep it safe from terrorist exploitation, with additional funding of £1 million to ensure the Charity Commission has the resources it needs to identify and disrupt terrorist exploitation of charities and protect donor confidence – See ‘In the News Section’ above for full details and links.
FSA: The High Court has placed The Inertia Partnership LLP (Inertia) into compulsory liquidation after the East Sussex-based company assisted boiler rooms which were unlawfully promoting and selling shares to UK consumers.
The order was made against the company as a result of a winding-up petition presented by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) because Inertia was found to have arranged at least £1 million worth of investment deals without authorisation under the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000.
The FSA investigation found that investors were cold called by boiler rooms, including Integra Advisory Group, AIM Management and Standford Long, who misled investors. Inertia acted as an 'escrow' agent and made arrangements for the purchase of shares in a number of UK companies.
Any investor who believes that they may have a claim against Inertia should contact the Public Interest Unit of the Insolvency Service, Tel: 020 7637 6680 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Press release ~ Public Interest Unit of the Insolvency Service ~ FSA – Share investment Scams
FSA: The Financial Services Authority has set out proposals (consultation closes 23 May 2007) for a shorter & more outcome-focused Training and Competence (T&C) Sourcebook that will apply only to retail firms and business. The new T&C regime will be founded on high-level rules & guidance, but will retain exam requirements for retail business, which are still seen as essential to protect consumers.
The FSA is already committed to disapplying its detailed T&C rules for wholesale business and to making the changes needed to ensure that this regime complies with the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). All the proposed changes to the T&C regime will come into force on 1 November 2007, when MiFID is implemented.
Press release ~ CP 07/04: The Training and Competence Sourcebook Review ~ CP 05/10: Reviewing the FSA Handbook ~ The Europe Economics Report ~ Training and Competence Sourcebook Review - A Europe Economics Report for the FSA
HMRC: Revenue & Customs Brief 18/07
This brief contains a technical note detailing proposed legislation to tackle avoidance based on abuse of sideways loss relief.
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