ODPM: The Balance of Power – The Government has announced a review of the powers & responsibilities of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and, in particular, those of the Mayor.
The review will consider whether the balance of power between national government, city-wide government and local authorities is the right one in London, and will focus on whether strategic services in London could be improved by giving additional strategic responsibilities to the Authority.
The review will consider the arguments for giving the GLA additional responsibilities for strategic issues which cross borough boundaries, which may not please London Boroughs who face seeing the possibility of their own plans being over-ruled.
As part of the review, the Government will issue a consultation paper later in the year and a final package of proposals should be produced in Spring 2006.
Press release ~ Mayor of London & London Assembly – Greater London Authority ~ ODPM ~ Article - Changes to UK local government aim to streamline decision-making ~ Mayor’s Annual report 2004/05 ~ Audit Commission - Strategy in London ~ The Greater London Authority – Interest Representation and the Strategic Agenda ~ The Greater London Authority - Problems of Strategy Co-ordination
MoD: Preparation requires both funding AND volunteers - A fully equipped 25-bed military field hospital was set up in the grounds of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham last week, as part of a two day conference by the RCDM to show NHS staff the ’real life’ vital role that medical reservists play in the provision of high quality medical care to personnel in the field.
As each unit cost over £1m, even before one starts to organise the recruitment & training of volunteer staff, the news item does illustrate the difficulty & cost of putting in place facilities which would be available to meet both military and civil needs / emergencies.
Its 25-bed capacity also demonstrates the limitations of such facilities, when faced by such events as hurricane Katrina and the need to look after thousands of casualties.
Press release ~ Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) ~ Modular Transportable Surgical Facility ~ Army Medic website ~ MoD Hospital care website ~ A View Of Future Issues For Defence Medical Training ~ Training in intensive care medicine in the Armed Forces
ODPM: Tempering the costly heat of Public Sector Pensions - The government has published details of new pension arrangements for firefighters, aimed at reducing the high cost of the current scheme, which sees over a quarter of the salary bill (& rising) being paid out as pensions, on top of an 11% employee contribution.
The new scheme will cost between 19% and 24%, depending on the benefits package adopted, with firefighters contributing a third - making it less costly for both taxpayers and the employee. While those due to retire on or before April 2013 will be unaffected, for existing firefighters, the key change will be the raising the pension age from 50 to 55 years. The new arrangements are planned to come into effect in 2006.
The key fact though is that government proposals for both the old and new schemes include the retention of final salary schemes and, having accepted this principle, it is difficult to see how they could try & change this feature in any future negotiations for the next 10 – 20 years at least, or remove it from other public sector employees.
Press release ~ ODPM Firefighters consultation papers ~ ODPM Firefighters pension website ~ Fire Brigades Union ~ Retained Firefighters Union ~ Government Actuaries Dept ~ BBC news item
Home Office: The UK Passport Service (UKPS) is reminding its customers to make sure that photos supplied with their passport applications meet the international requirements announced last summer, as passport photos need to meet the more stringent standards (enforced from 12 September 2005) to enable facial recognition technology to work properly.
Press release ~ International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) ~ Biometric passports ~ Passport Adviceline on 0870 5210410
Cabinet Office: The full membership of all eight new honours committees has been announced and the government is claiming that the new arrangements will ‘improve transparency and accountability in the honours system’. The reforms follow reviews of the honours system by Sir Hayden Phillips and the Public Administration Select Committee. The new committees, which will not be paid (but may receive modest expenses such as travel costs.), will meet twice a year to provide advice on candidates for inclusion in the New Year and Birthday honours lists.
Press release ~ Cabinet Office Honours website ~ Sir Hayden Phillips’ Review of the Honours System ~ Honours nomination form ~ Honours nomination form guidance notes ~ Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) report on the honours system
Cabinet Office: After a year in pilot phase, the government has launched the UK’s first ever quality award scheme that ensures users of off-the-shelf IT security products that they do what it says on the label.
Press release ~ CSIA website ~ Claims Tested Mark ~ Description of scheme ~ Test laboratory guide ~ CSIA – Protecting our information systems ~ BeCrypt ~ SecureWave
ODPM: The Fire Service College now has the largest indoor facility of its type in the world (costing over £6 million) to provide world class training in urban search and rescue (USAR). It will provide year-round, all-weather training for firefighters across the country for all levels of response from hands-on front-line response to senior command multi-agency operations.
Press release ~ Fire Service College ~ Dimension programme ~ ODPM Fire & Rescue website
Defra: Following separate findings of the Citrus longhorn beetle, one in Lancashire, and others in the south of England in imported Chinese maple trees (Acers), people are asked to look out for this beetle. The beetle is listed in legislation as a serious plant pest and measures are required to control any findings.
Press release ~ Plant Health and Seeds Inspector ~ Forestry Commission office ~ Pictures ~ Defra Plant Health website ~ Interception outbreak chart ~ Consultation on Plant Health issues
DfT: Skimming over the fact that it has taken 16 years, the Department for Transport has announced ‘progress’ on the last two major outstanding recommendations for improving safety on the River Thames and other tidal and inland waterways in the aftermath of the Marchioness tragedy, which sank after being hit by the Bowbelle, killing 51 people.
Press release ~ MCA formal safety assessment (FSA) of domestic passenger vessels standards ~ Port of London Authority ~ Report relating to Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) Networks ~ Marine transponders ~ DfT shipping & ports website
DWP: The government has announced that the latest BFI programme will concentrate on councils that take more than seven weeks to process new claims for Housing Benefit, as well as focusing on others that did not successfully prosecute many fraudsters in 2004/05. The BFI will, therefore, be inspecting the security and counter-fraud arrangements in 12 councils.
Press release ~ Benefit Fraud Inspection website
DWP: Welfare Reform Minister Margaret Hodge made what many may think is an implied ‘threat’. when she said recently at the International Medical Conference on Disability and Participation in the Workplace:
"Doctors should consider and reflect before they issue a sick note as carefully as they consider and reflect before prescribing a drug”.
Press release ~ EUMASS (European Union of Medicine in Assurance and Social Security) ~ AADEP (American Academy of Disability Evaluating Physicians) ~ Royal Society of Medicine ~ Faculty of Occupational Medicine ~ Society of Occupational Medicine ~ Five-Year Strategy: Opportunity and security throughout life ~ Letter to GPs ~ Information for GPs on Pathways to Work
DH: 60% of smokers go ahead and smoke without asking for permission, despite the fact that most non-smokers mind if other people are smoking nearby, according to new research by the NHS ’Don’t Give Up Giving Up campaign’. The survey marks the launch of new NHS ads (running from 5th September until 22nd October) intended to raise awareness of the health risks of secondhand smoke to adults.
Press release ~ Dangers of secondary smoke ~ Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation ~ Clearing the Air website ~ HDA report - The case for a completely smokefree NHS in England ~ Guidance for smokefree hospital trusts ~ ’Relative contributions of changes in risk factors and treatment to the reduction in coronary heart disease mortality’ ~ Smoking epidemic data files and figures ~ ASH website ~ BUPA paper on passive smoking ~ Smoking and Health Inequalities
DH: Lord Carter of Coles, the recently appointed Chair of independent review on modernisation of pathology services, has launched Modernising Pathology: Building a Service Responsive to Patients. The review is intended to ‘investigate the use of technology, bringing services closer to patients and the involvement of the independent sector to improve patient’.
In addition the National Histopathology Schools Network has also been launched and this will provide one single national curriculum, teaching resources and rigorous assessment procedures to ensure high quality histopathology training.
Press release ~ Modernising Pathology: Building a Service Responsive to Patients ~ Modernising Pathology Services ~ DH Modernising Pathology website ~ Histopathology ~ National Pathology Service Improvement Programme Newsletter ~ National Pathology Learning Sets Programme ~ Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) Ltd (CPA) ~ National Pathology Service Improvement Team -Frequently Asked Questions
Wales Assembly Govt: Wales needs to make the most of the potential of refugees, Equalities Minister Jane Hutt said at the recent conference on Developing a Welsh Refugee Employment Strategy in Cardiff.
Press release ~ DWP - Developing a Refugee Employment Strategy ~ Working together to help rebuild lives: A framework for partnership working to help refugees fulfil their potential
ODPM: New themes for Round Eight of the Beacon Council Scheme have been announced by Local Government Minister, Phil Woolas. Round Seven of the Beacon Scheme - launched by the ODPM on 5 July 2005 year- will run from 2005/06, while Round Eight of the Scheme will run from 2006/07.
Press release ~ Report of the Advisory Panel on Beacons: Recommendations to Ministers on Themes for Round 8 ~ Advisory Panel on Beacons ~ ODPM Beacon Council website ~ IDeA Beacon Council website
MPA: Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are ordinary members of the local community who, on a voluntary basis, check on the welfare of people detained in police stations. The ICV Programme Board, a partnership between the Metropolitan Police Authority, the volunteer Independent Custody Visitors and the Metropolitan Police Custody Directorate, is seeking to improve the quality of the service provided and recruit 150 more essential volunteers.
Press release ~ Details of Task &Code of Practice ~ ICV recruitment ~ ICVA website ~ Home Office circular ~ Leaflet ~ Police Reform Act 2002
HSE: Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, will, in a special event at TUC Congress, formally launch the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) revised Workers’ WebPages on 13 September 2005. The Workers’ WebPages have been redesigned to include extensive information on the health and safety roles & responsibilities of employees, including the rights of agency workers.
Press release ~ Workers’ WebPages ~ Guidance for safety representatives on sickness absence and return to work ~ HSC’s Strategy for workplace safety to 2010 and beyond ~ Worker involvement programme ~ Plans for Worker Involvement Programme
HM Treasury: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown - with colleagues from France, Spain, Italy and Sweden, Graca Machel and Dr Lee Jong-Wook - has launched a new International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm)
Alongside additional contributions recently announced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the innovative new initiative will ensure the provision of an additional $4 billion over the next ten years to tackle some of the deadliest diseases in some of the world’s poorest countries. The additional resources could save 5 million children’s lives by 2015 and a further 5 million lives thereafter by tackling immunisable diseases.
Press release ~ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ~ Vaccine Fund ~ Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) ~ A proposal for an International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm) ~ International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm)
Defra: Proposals to modernise the process for applying to the Environment Agency for licences to abstract and impound water have been published for consultation (closes 31 October 2005). The 2003 Water Act made a number of changes to the abstraction and impounding licensing system which has been in place, largely unchanged, since the 1960s.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Water Act 2003 ~ Defra water resources web page ~ The Review of the Water Abstraction Licensing System June 1998 ~ Taking Water Responsibly Government decisions following consultation on changes to thewater abstraction licensing system in England and Wales
DWP: The public have been urged to log on and have their say (no end date so far) in the National Pensions Debate as Minister for Pensions Reform, Stephen Timms, launched the department’s new website pages that are devoted to the debate.
Press release ~ National Pensions debate ~ DWP Pension reform website ~ Pension Protection Fund (PPF) ~ Pensions at work website ~ Principles for reform - The national pensions debate ~ Pension Service website for occupational pensions ~ Pensions Regulator
DWP: Minister for Pensions Reform, Stephen Timms is consulting (closes 2nd December 2005) on new draft regulations that he says will guarantee members of non money-purchase schemes an annual benefits information statement on their pension in respect of scheme years ending on or after 6th April 2007.
Press release ~ Pensions: Disclosure of information – Consultation on Draft Regulations ~ Pensions Regulator
DCMS: What property should we be seeking to protect in the event of armed conflict? The Minister for Culture, David Lammy, launched a consultation (closes 2 December 2005) on the best way for the UK to implement the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols.
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ Hague Convention 1954
ODPM: The Government is consulting on raising the management and physical standards of purpose-built university accommodation for students, in line with those already set down for privately rented housing, particularly through Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing.
Press release ~ Consultation paper - Codes of Practice for Student Accommodation: Consultation on Approving Codes under Section 233 of the Housing Act 2004 ~ Housing Act 2004 factsheets ~ Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing ~ Universities UK ~ Accreditation Network UK ~ Unipol Student Homes
Pensions Regulator: The Pensions Regulator has published two draft codes of practice for consultation (closes 2 December 2005):
· The Reasonable periods for the purposes of The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of information) Regulations 2006 ("Reasonable periods in Disclosure") and
· Internal controls codes are now on the regulator’s website and the pensions industry is invited to take part in the consultations.
Press release ~ Reasonable periods for the purposes of The Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of information) Regulations 2006 ~ Internal controls ~ Pensions Regulator website
DCA: According to the government people appealing against small claims cases will be protected from having to pay legal costs under proposals published recently. A consultation paper (closes 2 December 2005), Changes to Civil Appeal Rules, proposes that protection against high legal costs should be extended to small claims cases on appeal.
A second section of the consultation covers proposed changes to the way appeal applications from any type of civil case are dealt with in the Court of Appeal.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Small Claims Court – Q&A
DfES: Proposals, which could be introduced in the 2008/9 academic year, to make the application process for Higher Education (HE) ‘fairer’ have been published in a consultation document (closes on 5 December 2005) from the DfES. Under the current system, many students apply to go into HE on the basis of predicted results of their final exams, but evidence shows only 45% of current predicted grades are accurate.
Press release ~ Improving the Higher Education Applications Process ~ Professor Steven Schwartz - Fair admissions to higher education: recommendations for good practice ~ UCAS website
DTI : Speaking at the launch of a joint DTI, TUC and CBI report which explores how firms can manage change to improve working patterns and address long hours culture in the workplace, Employment Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has argued that ‘Working smarter is key to improving employee satisfaction and productivity’.
Press release ~ Managing Change: Practical Ways to Reduce Long Hours and Reform Working ~ Long Hours working partnership (and scroll down) ~ Workplace: First Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) ~ Results of the Second Flexible Working Employee Survey 2005 ~ DTI Working Parents website ~ Acas report on Homeworking ~ Part-time is no crime - so why the penalty? ~ Business Link – Benefits of flexible working and other guidance
DTI: Small businesses can deliver value for money and innovative solutions for local and central government a new study has found. The report showed they can also play a significant role in improving social enterprise and the employment opportunities of disadvantaged communities.
Press release ~ A Study of the Benefits of Public Sector Procurement from Small Businesses ~ Supplying government website ~ West Midlands procurement pilot ~ Small Business Concordat: Good Practice Guide ~ Small Business Service ~ Smaller Supplier, Better Value
Healthcare Commission / DH: Patients give broadly positive impressions of their experience of primary care services, including care given by doctors and dentists, according to a major survey by the Healthcare Commission, but the survey does highlight some areas of concern.
The government’s response was to say soothing words, but limit its guarantees further down in the text of its press release.
HC press release ~ DH press release ~ Primary Care Patient Survey ~ National Primary Care Development Team (NPDT) ~ Advanced access leaflet ~ ’Your Health, Your Care, Your Say’ ~ Find a dentist ~ Find a doctor ~ Current consultation on the draft National Health Service (Dental Charges) Regulation 2006 (closes 30 September) ~ DH Primary Care website
FCO: The Foreign Secretary today welcomed the release of the Independent Inquiry Committee’s Oil For Food report.
Press Release ~ BBC News item ~ Oil for Food Report
Defra: Results from a three year UK/India climate change research programme have been unveiled at the EU-India Summit in Delhi. The £450,000 study, which looked at the impacts of climate change, found that India was likely to face significant adverse effects in a range of sectors, including agriculture, health, forestry and infrastructure.
Press release ~ Defra Climate Change in India website ~ Defra General Climate Change website ~ Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests ~ ERM (Environmental Resources Management) ~ Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research ~ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001) ~ Africa up in smoke? ~ UK Climate Impact Programme ~ NSS (National Strategy Study) for CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) in India ~ India specific impacts of climate change ~ Indian Institute of Forest Management
OFT: The Office of Fair Trading has found that a collective agreement between members of MasterCard UK Members Forum (MMF), including most major banks, setting the multi-lateral interchange fee (the MMF MIF) paid on virtually all purchases in the UK made using UK-issued MasterCard credit and charge cards between 1 March 2000 and 18 November 2004 restricted competition and infringed Article 81 of the EC Treaty and the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act.
The OFT also found that the MMF MIF was used to recover extraneous costs for services which were not necessary for the operation of the MasterCard scheme as a mechanism for transmitting payments, such as the costs of the interest-free periods provided by card issuers.
The OFT is currently investigating an agreement between Visa members on the UK Domestic MIF applying to Visa transactions. This Decision makes findings only in relation to the MMF MIF agreement. However, where the OFT applies competition law to other interchange fee arrangements, it expects to do so in a consistent manner.
Press release ~ OFT decision ~ Companion Paper ~ Primary Conclusions
HMRC: New rates of interest on direct and indirect taxes and national insurance contributions paid late and overpaid have been announced, which take effect from, 6 September 2005.
Press release ~ MMRC interest rates web page
HMRC: Business Brief 17/05
Indirect Taxes: incorrect charging of interest
This Business Brief contains information on how HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) propose to repay taxpayers who were overcharged interest between 6 August 2003 and 5 September 2003.
Press release ~ Business Briefs 2005 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)
For further information on the events listed below (and subsequent events) please click HERE
Date: 3 - 5 October 2005
Venue: Earls Court One, London
Organiser: Neil Stewart Associates - Reinventing Accountability for the 21st Century
A two-day international event and training day which will explore innovative approaches to building accountable leadership and organisations in the 21st century.
Date: 4 October 2005
Organiser: Homeless Link - Making the link: opening up research into homelessness
Homeless Link supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, provide an opportunity for people both within and outside the homelessness sector to talk us about the wider issues affecting homeless people.
Date: 5 - 6 October 2005
Venue: Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, London
Organiser: Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply – Premier Conference
The central themes of this year’s Premier Conference examine the contribution that purchasing and supply management can make to the management of risk, whilst ensuring security of supply, and how procurement can drive innovation, both within organisations and with external suppliers.
Date: 6 October 2005
Venue: 4 Hamilton Place, London W1
Organiser: Local Government Chronicle – Improving policy design
A timely conference that will analyse the recent initiatives aimed at improving communication between central, regional and local government.
Date: 9 October 2005
Venue: Newcastle race course
Organiser: Royal British Legion - Newcastle Raceday
Date: 13 October 2005
Venue: Inmarsat Conference centre, London EC1
Organiser: Neil Stewart Associates – Modernising Mental health services: Developing Leadership, Recruitment, Retention and training
An opportunity to discuss how best to develop a more diverse and coherent NHS Mental Health workforce, with structured career development programmes and a drive to recruit more service users as part of the workforce.
Date: 22 October 2005
Venue: Chepstow race course
Organiser: Royal British Legion - Chepstow Raceday
Date: 22 October 2005
Venue: Fairfield Halls, Croydon.
Organiser: Royal British Legion - Biennial gathering of the Massed Bands of the Royal British Legion Concert
Date: 26 – 28 October 2005
Venue: Sunningdale Park, Larch Avenue, Ascot, SL5 0QE
Organiser: National School of Government - Developing Tomorrows Manager 1
Equipping people to work at a level to provide top-quality support to their managers and developing their potential to be the leaders of tomorrow. Designed for administrative officers and their equivalent, on completion you should understand the basis of effective management
Date: 26 – 28 October 2005
Venue: London Hilton, Park lane, London
Organiser: Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply – CIPS Supply Management Awards 2005
The awards are run jointly by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) and its fortnightly magazine, Supply Management. For the CIPS Supply Management Awards 2005, the 10 team and two individual categories will be presented at a black-tie gala dinner at the London Hilton on Park Lane on Thursday 27th October.
Date: Up to 15 December
Organiser: Citizenship Foundation - Take a hands-on approach to politics, journalism and the legal system
Now in it’s 15th year, The National Youth Parliament Competition helps 11-18 year olds understand the democratic process and gives them the opportunity to video their own parliamentary debate.
The National Political Journalism competition, challenges young people (11-18 year olds) to experience first-hand the relationship between politics and the media. They are asked to tackle a local, national and international political issue of their choice, by taking on the roles of media professionals and create real news pieces in print, TV or radio.
In the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial competition students take on the roles of court staff, lawyers & witnesses and present the prosecution and defence of a specially written criminal case.
For further information on the above (and subsequent) events please click HERE
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