DH:  Giving sick children a choice - England's sickest children and their families will have more choice about the way they receive their care following the launch of a new Department of health guide which will show local health chiefs how to give more choice to the children who need it most, with a range of palliative care options that includes the right to be treated at home.  Nurse-led services in the community will mean services will come to children, saving them from having to travel to hospital every time they need care.


The guide will help those working with children who need palliative services to devise care that moves seamlessly across health, social care and education. This will mean they are cared for in an environment where they feel comfortable.


The launch of the new guide coincides with the launch of the Association of Children's Hospices step-by-step guide / toolkit to setting up a children's hospice. The ACH toolkit complements the new palliative care guide and seeks to influence the setting up of future children's hospice services, so that they are planned & developed in partnership with the statutory sector, delivered where they are most needed and the way that children, young people and their families say they want.

Press release ~ Commissioning Children’s And Young People’s Palliative Care Services: A Practical Guide For Primary Care Trusts And Practice Based Commissioners ~ Guide to setting up a children's hospice ~ Association of Children's Hospices (ACH) ~ Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health ~ Council for Disabled Children ~ Contact a Family ~ Association for Children with Life-threatening or terminal conditions (ACT)


Pension Commission: THE Pension Report – You’ve seen the report in the media, now read Lord Turner’s speech and all the associated documents, including the first response from the DWP.


John Hutton has ‘thanked’ the Pensions Commission for its work in a statement to the House of Commons and said that the government will bring forward a detailed response in the Spring.

PC press release ~ DWP press release ~  A New Pensions Settlement for the 21st Century ~ Lord Turner’s speech to the press conference ~ National Pensions Debate ~ DWP website ~ Institute of Actuaries response


DTI:  A non- nuclear option? – With very little fanfare, an agreement which could see carbon emissions stored in depleted oil fields in the North Sea has been signed by UK Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks and the Norwegian Energy Minister Odd Roger Enoksen.


Known as carbon sequestration, the technology can be used to separate CO2 from coal and gas firing power stations, which is then pumped into depleted oil fields via disused pipelines. 


Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks said: "This technology could cut the level of CO2 emissions from power stations by up to 90%.  It is estimated that we have the capacity under the UK Continental Shelf to store our total carbon emissions for decades to come.


So why the rush towards the nuclear option?

Press release ~ What is CO2 capture and storage? ~ Sleipner project ~ Carbon sequestration ~ Climate Change Programme Review ~ Carbon Abatement Technology Strategy ~ Energy Review ~ Review into the Feasibility of CO2 Capture and Storage in the UK ~ CO2 capture project ~ The Carbon Trust website


Acas: Happy Christmas for Lawyers? - Christmas is a happy time - or is it?  People can get overexcited and may act out of character.   We've all heard the story about employees photocopying certain parts of their anatomy on the office machine. But what can an employer do about it?


Many organisations find themselves with problems on their hands over the Christmas period, particularly the fall-out from the office party and the answers are not always as simple as managers may think.


Acas' helpline gets hundreds of calls every Christmas from organisations with problems and have prepared some typical answers.

Press release ~ Is there a right to have bank holidays off? ~ Guidance on Religion or belief and the workplace ~ Holidays and Holiday pay


FSA:  Financial ‘terror’ in the City - The UK financial sector took part last week in the largest ever market-wide test of its preparedness to respond to a major crisis such as a terrorist attack, natural disaster or widespread infrastructure damage.  The test, which was designed to be as realistic as possible, involved a scenario of widespread disruption in London and other financial centres, and included simulated news broadcasts, interviews and market and currency movements.


KPMG will report early in 2006 on the effectiveness of the sector's business continuity preparations and the Authorities' contribution.  A report on the findings together with any recommendations for improvements will be published.

Press release ~ FSA ~ UK Financial Sector Continuity ~ Business Continuity Institute ~ London Prepared - London Resilience ~ Corporation of London ~ City of London Police  ~ Information needed on firms in a financial crisis: ‘Factbooks’ ~ Tripartite Authorities ~ KPMG ~ Crisis Solutions Limited ~ London Emergency.nhs.uk website



General News

National Statistics: The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that he intends to legislate to make the Office for National Statistics independent of Government, making the publication of official statistics the responsibility of an independent body at arms length from Government and fully independent of it.

Press release ~ Office for National Statistics


Healthcare Commission:  The Healthcare Commission has begun visits & spot checks at almost 120 NHS trusts to ensure compliance with the government’s core standards.  The Commission will carry out the visits, covering 20% of NHS trusts, between now and the end of February, as part of the first stage of the new annual health check, which has replaced star ratings.


In addition to the 24 core standards, describing what must now be done, the government has set 13 developmental standards, designed to drive up quality of care, which the Commission will begin to assess next year (April 06 to March 07).

Press release ~ 2005 Performance Ratings ~ New National Targets ~ New performance indicators ~ Overview & scrutiny committees of local councils ~ Healthcare Standards Unit


DWP:  The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) has now been launched and its purpose is to ensure disabled people are a priority right across Government - throughout their lives.   The ODI is intended to ensure there is a focus across government on improving outcomes and securing equal opportunities for disabled individuals & families, for example in education & employment.


The Office for Disability Issues has been launched alongside a new campaign which is meant to encourage small businesses to make themselves more accessible to their disabled customers & staff.   The campaign explains how they may only need to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of disabled people and fulfil their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act.


From 5 December 2005 the DDA has extended its protection to people with Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and HIV effectively from the point of diagnosis.

Press release ~ ODI website ~ 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People' ~ 'Adjusting for Better Business' campaign

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra:  Sustainable Farming and Food Minister Lord Bach has launched Partners for Success, Defra's new Farm Regulation and Charging Strategy, which commits the Government to improving the way it regulates & enforces regulation, in order to make it easier for farmers to comply by simplifying rules & cutting red tape for farmers, notably through reduced form-filling.


The strategy is intended to help improve their performance in protecting the environment, biodiversity, animal health and welfare, as well as food safety and worker safety.

Press release ~ Partners for Success website ~ Action Plan ~ Less is More report by the Better Regulation Task Force ~ Hampton Review ~ Charging Handbook ~ Whole Farm Approach website


DTI:  The government has published details of the DTI's developing simplification plan and set out how the Department will deliver over £1 billion of regulatory savings by 2010.  The plan is supposed to help DTI deliver a new 25% target for reducing administrative burdens as announced by the Prime Minister at the recent CBI conference.


The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry called on businesses, large and small, to work with DTI in developing simplification proposals as well as submitting their ideas for cutting red tape via www.dti.gov.uk/simplify.

Press release ~ DTI Draft Simplification Plan ~ Small Business Service ~ Effective Inspection and Enforcement, Philip Hampton ~ Regulation - Less is More, Better Regulation Task Force ~ Operating and Financial Review


DH:  Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, has confirmed that all 28 Strategic Health Authority (SHA) areas have been given the go-ahead, from the Department of Health, to begin local consultations on boundary changes in December.  This decision means that SHAs will be able to start consulting locally on the future shape and, where relevant, the number of their local primary care trusts and Strategic Health Authorities.


SHAs also received further technical guidance, including a human resources framework, on how to conduct the local consultation to ensure that all interested parties and stakeholders have an opportunity to participate and that all options proposed for each area are given equal weight.


Press release ~ Commissioning a patient-led NHS: Human resources framework for SHAs and PCTs ~ Commissioning a Patient-led NHS ~ NHS Employers website ~ CPHVA statement


DTI:  Lord Sainsbury, Science and Innovation Minister, has announced a new funding approach to help universities apply their knowledge, ideas & expertise in response to market needs and for public benefit.


A total of £238 million is being allocated to cover the years 2006-08 under the third round of the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), to increase collaboration between around 130 higher education institutions and businesses and other partners throughout the country.


HEIF is moving to a new format, with three-quarters of funding distributed by formula, and the remainder through open competition. The combined total of £265m under the first and second rounds of HEIF between 2001-2006 was allocated through open competitions.

Press release ~ Annual higher education-business and community interaction (HE-BCI) survey ~ Office of Science and Technology ~ University Companies Association ~ Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)


Defra:  A new three year drive to communicate the threat of climate change and the need for everyone to tackle the problem has been launched by the government in an announcement that unveils a series of new communication resources that tell the story of climate change and ‘seek to inspire people to get involved in the campaign’.


It will include a new identity for the campaign ‘Tomorrow's Climate, Today's Challenge’, new funding and a new website.  Private sector groups, organisations and charities can apply for money from the £6m fund  - closing date for applications will be March 31st 2006.

Press release ~ New Climate challenge innitiative website ~ Climate change communications initiative fund ~ Carbon Trust ~ Energy Saving Trust ~ Environment Agency  ~ UK Climate Impacts Programme ~ Hadley centre ~ Defra Climate change website



ODPM:  Clearer lines of accountability, more power for local people and less bureaucracy; the government claims that these principles lie at the heart of its public service reform commitment.


Building on the discussion document ‘Securing better outcomes: developing a new performance framework’ published last March, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas has launched a consultation paper (closes 3 March 2006) on the future of local services inspection.  The consultation paper starts a debate on the role of local services inspection including the Audit Commission beyond 2008, when a number of existing programmes come to an end.

Press release ~ Consultation: Inspection Reform: The Future of Local Services Inspection ~ local:vision website ~ Public Services Inspection website ~ Principles of inspection ~ Devolving Decision-Making Review in 2004 ~ Audit Commission ~ Benefit Fraud Inspectorate


Home Office:  Home Office Minister Fiona Mactaggart has set out the national standards for services to all prosecution and defence witnesses with the publication of the Witness Charter consultation (closes 28 February 2006).


Complementing the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, which gave statutory rights to victims for the first time, the Witness Charter is expected to be implemented in April 2007.

Press release ~ Witness Charter consultation paper ~ Cutting Crime, Delivering Justice, A Strategic Plan for Criminal Justice 2004-08 ~ Code of Practice for Victims of Crime ~ No Witness, No Justice project ~ Victim Support ~ Victims Charter ~ Witness Service ~ CPS Victims and Witnesses website


ODPM:  The Government is consulting (closes 21 February 2006) on the security of tenure for up to 15,000 residential boats in England, particularly in London's Canal Basins, West Midlands and Norfolk Broads.  Security of Tenure for Residential Boats - England and Wales, which covers boats at moorings used for long-term residential use, proposes to establish similar protection as provided for owners of park homes in the Housing Act 2004.


The consultation is proposing four options: continuing with the status quo; introducing best practice guidance for moorings; introducing a model agreement; or introducing legislation on implying terms into all agreements

Press release ~ Consultation paper - Security of Tenure for Residential Boats ~ Association of Inland Navigation Authorities


ODPM:  The Government is looking at ways to shift powers away from Whitehall giving the Labour-dominated Greater London Authority more control on key strategic issues affecting the capital.  The ODPM claims that Ministers are willing to consider major decentralisation, but only if the result is improved quality of life in London.


Now Londoners are being consulted (closes 22 February 2006) on a package of changes & options giving the Mayor more influence over delivery of key services like housing, skills, planning and waste.  Ministers will agree a final package of proposals next spring.

Press release ~ The Government's proposals for additional powers and responsibilities for the Mayor and Assembly ~ Mayor’s response ~ ALG Briefing ~ ALG press release


Home Office:  The Home Office is reminding people that new powers, to allow police to drug test people arrested for certain trigger offences, have come now come into force.  The new measures are part of the Drugs Act 2005, and will be used initially in those police areas with the highest rates of drug-linked crime.


The Government has also announced that the Home Office is seeking the views (until 3 March 2006) of the police, courts and drugs agencies on the setting of particular thresholds for the possession of controlled drugs.  This is to clarify the point at which the quantity of drugs in a person's possession becomes above and beyond that reasonably held for personal use, and so help the courts to differentiate between possession and intent to supply.

Press release ~ Consultation: Thresholds - Drugs Act 2005 ~ Tackling Drugs. Changing Lives ~ Communication Toolkit 2005 ~ Home Office Drugs website ~ Drugs Intervention Programme ~ Drug Intervention Programme Newsletter - November 2005 'Out of Crime, Into Treatment'


HSE:  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its initial draft simplification plan, as part of its commitment to deliver the wider better regulation agenda, on its website - and they would like to know what you think.  Their intent is to meet the better regulation challenge set by government, whilst improving health and safety outcomes and not reducing the levels of protection for workers or the public.


In developing the plan HSC/E says that it will ‘take into account comments from stakeholders, and along with all Government Departments HSC/E will submit the draft to the Cabinet Office on 31 January 2006’.


Comments should be sent to: simplification@hse.gsi.gov.uk as soon as possible.

Press release ~ HSC/E Draft simplification plan ~ Government's better regulation agenda


ODPM:  The Government is consulting (closes 1 February 2006) on how statutory Tenancy Deposit Protection, which sets out the rights & responsibilities of both tenants and landlords at the beginning of a tenancy where a deposit is taken, will operate.

Press release ~ Consultation paper: Tenancy Deposit Protection: consultation on secondary legislation ~ Housing Act 2004 ~ Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) ~ HMO ~ Selective Licensing ~ Housing Health and Safety Rating System ~ Empty Dwelling Management Orders


HSE:  The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has published a consultative document (closes 13th March 2006) seeking comments on a proposal for a new Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL) for respirable crystalline silica, to which, every year, nearly 2 million employees are exposed.


Long-term exposure to dusts containing respirable crystalline silica can lead to the development of silicosis, a slowly developing irreversible lung disease.  Heavy and prolonged exposures under conditions that are sufficient to cause silicosis can also lead to an increased risk of lung cancer.

Press release ~ Consultation document ~ HSE Hazard Alert notice


Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  The inequalities faced by disabled children will be tackled by a new guide, which is intended to ensure that children with complex disabilities receive better, more co-ordinated education, health & social care, so they can live the fullest life possible.


The Complex Disability Exemplar aims to improve local practice in the commissioning and delivery of services for disabled children and act as a training tool for staff working with children with complex needs.

Press release ~ Complex Disability Exemplar ~ A national health inequalities strategy - the Programme for Action ~ Children's National Service Framework ~ Council for Disabled Children


HSE:  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a new guide - ‘Whole Body Vibration: The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005’ – which gives advice to employers of what can be done to reduce & control the risks of WBV, under the Control of Vibration Work Act 2005 which came into being earlier this year.


The new guidance will be helpful to those who operate off-road machinery and construction vehicles as well as industries where drivers can be exposed to shocks and jolts while travelling over rough ground like, mining and quarrying.

Press release ~ HSE Vibration website ~ Whole Body Vibration: The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and other (most free) relevant publications ~ The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 ~ Whole-body vibration in agricultural vehicles - Research Report 321 ~ Evaluation of whole-body vibration exposure in British Industry - Research Report 377 ~ Whole-body vibration on construction, mining and quarrying machines - Research Report 400 ~ TUC Work Smart ~ Health & safety Laboratory


Annual Reports

General Reports and other publications

DfES:  Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has ‘welcomed’ the interim report of the Rose Review of the Teaching of Early Reading.  The report is claimed to be a roadmap to ‘the most effective ways to teach reading to young children, to give them that crucial head-start in life’.


This interim report sets out the direction of travel but Jim Rose will deliver his final detailed report early next year.

Press release ~ Interim Report - Rose Review of the Teaching of Early Reading ~ Primary National Strategy ~ DfES – Learning to read & write ~ DfES - A little reading goes a long way ~ Teachernet – Family Reading ~ Hooked on Books


DfES:  Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has outlined the next steps for Sure Start, that are intended to maximise its impact across the country, along with the launch of a new practice guidance for Sure Start Children's Centres.


Alongside the best practice guidance, the Department has published five early reports from the National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS) - an independent study looking at the impact of Sure Start over a long-term period.

Press release ~ National Evaluation of Sure Start (NESS) ~ Early Impacts of Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) on Children and Families ~ Variation in SSLP Effectiveness: early preliminary findings ~ Implementing Sure Start local programmes - an integrated overview of the first four years ~ Quality of Early Learning, Play and Childcare services in SSLPs; ~ Maternity Services in SSLPs ~ Sure Start website ~ Practice guidance


Defra:  The Government has published its report setting out its research agenda to address the potential risks posed by the products of nanotechnology.  The report identifies 19 research objectives and describes funding opportunities to address them. The entire research and funding programme will be regularly reviewed


Nanotechnology refers to the application of materials at atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale where properties differ from those found in the same material in gross form. A nanometre is one thousand millionth of a metre. A human hair is 80,000nm wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide and a water molecule 0.3nm wide.

Press release ~ Characterising the potential risks posed by engineered nanoparticles ~ Defra nanotechnology website ~ RAEng. Report - Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and uncertainties ~ Royal Academy of Engineering ~ 7th Framework Programme


DTI:  The Government has said that it welcomes the recommendations in the UK Stem Cell Initiative (UKSCI) and that the recommendations will inform the development of the UK's public investment and regulatory strategy.

Press release ~ Report ~ DW website and government’s response to report ~ Institute for Stem Cell Research (ISCR) ~ UK Stem Cell bank ~ The Royal Society


NAO:  The DCMS and the organisations it sponsors spend some £575 million a year buying goods & services and a report from the National Audit Office concludes that better procurement practice could result in overall annual savings of £14 million by 2008-09 and double this within five years.


60% of organisations’ procurement spend is on generic goods & services, such as facilities management and ICT, but only 4% of their spending is done collaboratively, while more investment in computerised systems and greater use of payment cards by the sector could reduce the administrative cost of processing purchase orders and paying invoices by up to £5 million a year.

Press release ~ Full Report ~ Executive Summary ~ OGC payment card


HM Treasury:  Sir George Cox has published his review of creativity and design in UK business.   The Cox Review of Creativity in Business: building on the UK's strengths was concerned with ensuring that UK businesses - SMEs and modern manufacturers in particular - apply creativity and design to improve their productivity and performance.


It identifies steps that can be taken to raise awareness and the profile of creativity; target support and incentive schemes; build capacity in higher education, and utilise the power of public procurement to encourage innovation.

Press release ~ Cox Review of Creativity in Business


Legislation / Legal

MOD:  Proposals for modernising the military criminal justice system have been unveiled with the publication of the Armed Forces Bill, which contains proposals for the harmonisation of discipline across the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.


It will mean all Service personnel will be dealt with under the same military discipline system wherever they are serving.   The Second Reading of the Bill is scheduled for mid-December.

Press release ~ Military law and the enforcement of discipline in the Army ~ The Courts-Martial (Army) (Amendment) Rules 2002 ~ Description of Army Courts martial process

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

DH:  The UK government announced that it is to provide £25m and formal support to the World Alliance for Patient Safety.


The UK Presidency's patient safety theme has continued the focus in this important area from the previous Luxembourg Presidency. The Presidency has built on other work (notably the 2005 Luxembourg Declaration and the emerging patient safety recommendations from the Council of Europe) to identify an EU approach to patient safety that can complement global initiatives in this area, notably the World Alliance for Patient Safety, led by the World Health Organisation.

Press release ~ World Alliance for Patient Safety ~ Alliance’s Forward Programme ~ 2005 Luxembourg Declaration~ Global Patient Challenge (VLF  2Mb) ~ High Level Group on Health Services and Medical Care


HM Treasury:  Gordon Brown and Margaret Beckett have launched their joint paper, A Vision for Common Agricultural Policy.

Press release ~ A Vision for Common Agricultural Policy ~ Defra CAP website


DCA:  Internet shoppers, holiday travellers, consumers, and businesses across the EU will benefit from improvements in ways of addressing, resolving & enforcing outcomes in civil cases involving parties in different EU countries agreed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels.


These will:

·         Make it easier for consumers to resolve small claims arising in other EU countries using a simpler, faster and cheaper procedure.

·         Make it easier to obtain judgments on uncontested claims by providing a uniform EU wide procedure and ensuring that these judgments will be automatically recognised throughout the EU.

·         Encourage resolution of disputes across jurisdictions without going to court by using mediation.

Press release ~ European Small Claims Procedure (ESCP) ~ European Order for Payment (EOP)

Charity and Voluntary Sector

British Red Cross: As the British Red Cross launched its tsunami ‘one year on’ report this week, the charity announced that, to date, over 3,000 families in Aceh, Northern Indonesia, have now opened bank accounts and received their first account payments thanks to the charity’s pioneering cash support programme.


As part of the recovery programme in Aceh, the British Red Cross is working with the Indonesian Red Cross to help people open bank accounts into which the Red Cross pays phased amounts of money to support or restore their livelihoods.

Press release ~ British Red Cross ~ Asian Tsunami website ~ One Year On report

Business and other briefings

HMRC:  HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published the report on its consultation with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), 'Working Towards a New Relationship', which was launched at Budget 2005.  The report highlights businesses' priorities for improving their relationship with HMRC and the first steps that HMRC has taken to delivering against them.


HMRC has responded to the priorities identified by business during the consultation and is announcing:

·         a consultation on companies providing information only once to HMRC and Companies House, saving £100 million when fully implemented.


·         enhancements to the Employer's CD-ROM that will make the payroll process easier, reducing costs to employers by around £10 million each year.


·         a reduction in the reporting requirements for Form 42 that will reduce by 90% the number of new companies having to complete the form, resulting in savings of up to £60 million each year.

Press release ~ 'Working Towards a New Relationship' ~ Summary of Responses: Small Business Consultations (scroll down) ~ The Employer's CD-ROM


HMRC:  VAT Business Brief 22 /05


·         VAT: Judgement of the Court of Appeal in the case of Ivor Jacobs ([2205] EWCA Civ 930)

·         Further clarification on the VAT position of share issues made to customers outside the EU

·         Recovery of VAT by businesses on road fuel purchased by their employees on their behalf

·         Messenger Leisure Developments Ltd - Refusal of leave to appeal to the House of Lords

·         VAT: Place of supply of general legal services for individuals with no right to remain in the UK.

Press release ~ Business Briefs 2005 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)

Industry News


2 months left to enter for the UK's biggest innovation prize!:Could your engineering innovation change the world? The Royal Academy of Engineering is looking for contenders for the MacRobert Award 2006, worth £50,000 tax-free to the winner, plus the solid gold MacRobert Award Medal. The closing date for entries is 31 January 2006.

Now in its 37th year, the MacRobert Award is Britain’s pre-eminent award for innovation in engineering. Open to individuals or teams of up to five people from any size of company who have exploited a major engineering breakthrough, the winner will be announced at the Academy’s Awards Dinner in London in June 2006. Click here for more information

For other Industry News items please click HERE

Forthcoming Event

This event is organised by Association for Public Service ExcellenceDates: 19/01/2006 and 09/02/2006

Venues:  Birmingham and Edinburgh

Organiser: Association for Public Service Excellence(APSE)



APSE, in conjunction with Eversheds, is pleased to announce the creation of a Master Class in Corporate Manslaughter for local authorities. Places on these events will be strictly limited as they will be highly interactive, working sessions which will examine all relevant aspects of Corporate Manslaughter and give practical guidance on the government’s new proposals. The government has consulted on reforming the law of corporate manslaughter to make it easier to secure convictions for those bodies charged with the offence. The proposed bill has been mentioned in the Queen’s Speech and is likely to come forward during the course of 2005.


For information other forthcoming events please click HERE


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