DCMS: Where we live! - a new collaboration between the national Government agencies responsible for sport, arts, heritage, the built environment and museums, libraries & archives – was launched at the recent LGA Delivering Sustainable Communities conference in Birmingham, with the intention of building on the achievements of the joint document produced two years ago: Bringing Communities Together Through Culture and Sport.
Particular priority will be given to the designated Growth Areas and Housing Market Renewal Areas, but the partnership aims to see its vision of culturally vibrant communities realised throughout the country.
Press release ~ Where we live! ~ Bringing Communities Together Through Culture and Sport ~ Cultural connections ~ Sustainable Communities ~ Housing Market Renewal Pathfinders ~ The Building Exploratory ~ Positive futures ~ Arts Council England ~ Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) ~ Department for Culture Media and Sport ~ English Heritage ~ Museums, Libraries and Archives Council ~ Sport England
DfES: Children's Minister Beverley Hughes has set out the next steps in ‘delivering a world-class children's workforce’, including the development of an integrated qualifications framework.
To support this improvement the minister confirmed how the new Transformation Fund of £250m would be used to ‘secure high quality early years provision and better outcomes for children and their families through investment in a better qualified early years workforce, without compromising efforts to make childcare more affordable’. Further details of the Transformation Fund will be set out in guidance to be issued by early March.
Press release ~ Government response to Children’s Workforce Strategy ~ Common Core of Skills and Knowledge ~ Options for Excellence review ~ Children's Workforce Development Council
DH: To conclude the review of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI), which is due to be completed by April 2006, the Department will establish an expert panel to consider the evidence collected so far on how the arrangements for ensuring a strong local voice in health and social care can be strengthened.
The panel will be tasked with making recommendations that take into account the evidence collected from the review so far. It will also build on findings from patients' experiences and user involvement in health & social care and the specific work of patients' forums and overview & scrutiny committees.
Press release ~ Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) ~ 'Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services' ~ National Consumer Council ~ Patients' forums ~ Overview & scrutiny committees ~ Signposts : a practical guide to public and patient involvement in Wales ~ NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (NHS QIS) 'Patient focus and public involvement' ~ National Association for Patient Participation (NAPP) ~ DIPEx : personal experiences of health and illness ~ Resourceful patient ~ DH: strengthening accountability ~ Listening, hearing and responding
Welsh Assembly Govt.: Jane Davidson, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning has launched the Assembly Government’s Play Policy Implementation Plan - Play in Wales – which highlights the right of children in Wales to have access to a range of play, leisure sporting and cultural activities.
Press release ~ Play in Wales ~ WAG Play Policy ~ Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagan’s ~ UN Convention of the Rights of the Child ~ Flying Start programme ~ Cymorth ~ Parenting Action Plan
DTI: A fundamental review of areas that qualify for economic funding to help boost competitiveness has been launched by Alun Michael, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions. The Review of the Assisted Areas of the UK asks local authorities, Regional Development Agencies, Devolved Administrations and other interested groups for their views on the criteria that should be used to define the areas that should be included on the map.
This is the first stage of the Assisted Area Map consultation and ends on 19th April 2005. Part two of the consultation will contain the Government's response and a draft map and should be issued this summer.
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ European Commission's Guidelines on national regional aid ~ Assisted areas ~ Regional Development Agencies ~ Selective Finance for Investment in England (SFIE) ~ Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) in Scotland ~ RSA Wales ~ National Strategic Reference Framework (scroll down)
Welsh Assembly Govt.: The Welsh Assembly Government has published, for consultation (closes 7th April 2006) the draft guidance for Safeguarding Children and Child Protection for Managers and Drama Teachers.
The publication of the guidance is in response to a recommendation in the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’s Clywch Report into allegations of child sexual abuse.
Press release ~ Consultation document on teaching drama: guidance on safeguarding children and child protection ~ Clywch Report into allegations of child sexual abuse ~ ACCAC ~ Estyn ~ Social Services Inspectorate for Wales
Public Standards: The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published a consultation paper (closes 16 May 2006) setting out the key issues & questions on which it intends to focus during its Eleventh Inquiry into the mandate, governance & accountability of the Electoral Commission. A series of public hearings throughout the UK will be held later this year.
The Inquiry takes place against a background of public concerns about:
· arrangements for postal voting following some high-profile legal cases
· safeguards for voter registration, and
· allegedly circumventory loans to political parties
It will also examine whether the Electoral Commission is sufficiently independent from Government and how well its accountability to Parliament works.
Press release ~ Review of Electoral Commission - Issues and Questions paper ~ Electoral Administration Bill ~ Code of conduct for handling of Postal Ballots ~ e-democracy ~ aboutmyvote website ~ DCA Elections Bill website ~ Delivering Democracy? The future of postal voting - Summary ~ Do Politics ~ Youth voting network
Defra: The government has launched an online consultation exercise (close 18 March 2006) to examine the criteria & guidance on interpretation for forest certification schemes (Category A evidence) and other forms of assurance (Category B evidence).
Forest certification schemes are assessed against criteria published on the website of the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET). Establishing the credibility of suppliers' claims is crucial to successfully implementing the UK Government's policy on procuring legal & sustainable timber.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ ProForest ~ UK government’s response to representations made on the assessment of five forest certification schemes: CEPT Phase 1 Final report, Nov 2004~ Forests forever ~ Defra – illegal logging ~ Forest Stewardship Council
Defra: Defra has launched a 'better regulation' review of the 15-year old local authority pollution, prevention and control regime, which ensures that some 17,000 business and industrial sites are permitted, monitored & meet local air quality standards, has been in place for 15 years.
This is the first of two consultations (closes 19 May 2006) and covers the draft criteria for assessing the scope for simplifying or employing alternative regulatory approaches. A second consultation will publish the results of the review for which the criteria have been developed.
Press release ~ Consultation on the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 - review of the regulatory approach to some ‘Part B’ activities ~ Defra Pollution Prevention and Control
DfT: Months after the scandal of the DVLA giving out personal data to virtually anybody was first highlighted in the media, a consultation paper seeking views on access to information from the DVLA and DVLNI vehicle registers has been launched by the Department for Transport.
The consultation (closes 24th March 2006) seeks views on:
· the organisations that should have information from the vehicle register and the reasons for their having it
· how we manage access to the register and
· the audit regime for those who are granted access
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ News article ~ Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's (DVLA) ~ Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI) ~ Information Commissioner’s Guidance
DTI / Defra: A consultation (closes 13 April 2006) has been published that sets out the Government's projections for energy and carbon emissions for the UK. They will form the baseline for the new Climate Change Programme and will also be used as part of the Government's ongoing Energy Review and to inform allocations for the next phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (2008 -2012).
Press release ~ Consultation document on the projections ~ Stakeholder Event registration form ~ Defra - Climate change programme ~ Scottish Climate Change programme ~ UK's Phase II National Allocation Plan ~ Energy Review
Defra: A new Code of Practice for professional users of plant protection products has been published, which sets out both what is required by law and the best practice for the use of pesticides which are controlled under this legislation. The Statutory Code replaces & updates three previous codes of practice including the code for using pesticides in amenity areas, which was previously a voluntary code.
The Royal Commission's report - Crop Spraying and the Health of Residents and Bystanders - did not establish a link between pesticide spraying and ill-health. It does, however, make recommendations for new medical research and for a range of new measures to be put in place to reduce potential exposure of bystanders and neighbours to spray drift until it can be proven that crop spraying poses no risk to human health. The Government is currently considering the recommendations made in the RCEP's report in detail and expects to produce a response by the summer.
Press release ~ Updated Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products ~ National Strategy For The Sustainable Use Of Plant Protection Products ~ Regulatory updates ~ European Directive 91/414 ~ Crop Spraying and the Health of Residents and Bystanders ~ HSE pesticides website
Pensions Regulator: The first of its kind, the Pension Trustee toolkit is a free, practical & interactive online training programme designed to improve trustees' knowledge & understanding. Successful completion will help trustees to meet statutory requirements under the Pensions Act 2004 (sections 247-249), that - Trustees have knowledge and understanding of the law relating to pensions and trusts, the principles relating to the funding of occupational schemes and the investment of scheme assets, and to be familiar with their own schemes.
The programme syllabus has been based on scope guidance available on the regulator's website and will form the basis of a new voluntary qualification for trustees to be launched by the Pensions Management Institute in April, which will replace the current Trustee Certificate offered by the Pensions Management Institute.
Press release ~ Toolkit ~ Final draft of the Pensions Regulator's Code of practice on Trustee Knowledge & Understanding ~ Pensions Management Institute
DfT: The government has named 32 locations around the UK coast that have been identified as Marine Environmental High Risk Areas (MEHRAs). The locations of MEHRAs have been identified after taking into account shipping risk, environmental sensitivity and other environmental protection measures already in place at each location.
MEHRAs will now be notified by a Marine Guidance Note to mariners who will be expected to exercise an even higher degree of care than usual when passing through them. They will also be marked on Admiralty charts.
Press release ~ Establishment of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas (MEHRAs) ~ WWF factsheet ~ Marine Guidance Notes ~ An overview of shipping activities in UK waters - Ten years on from the sea empress disaster
DfT: New research provides detailed information about journey times and traffic flows for more than 100 routes across the strategic network. The Public Service Agreement (PSA) target is to make journeys more reliable on the strategic road network and it will be met if the average vehicle delay on the 10% slowest journeys is less in 2007-8 than the baseline which covers 2004-05.
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said: “Make no mistake, simply building more roads cannot be the answer. That is why I believe that road-pricing has a part to play. We are pressing ahead now with plans for a major pilot in the next 4-5 years, looking closely at the emerging technologies, to open up the potential of a national scheme.
Press release ~ Congestion on the strategic road network ~ Transport Innovation Fund ~ Road pricing feasibility study ~ Transport Cttee seventh report on Road pricing ~ HOT lanes ~ FOE: Road pricing: magic wand or red herring? ~ German road pricing loses its way
DWP: Interim findings from the evaluation of the Local Housing Allowance Pathfinders have been published. The report is part of a series that give feedback on the evaluation and is the first in the series which looks at the live running of the LHA, fifteen months after its introduction in each of the Pathfinders.
The report focuses on those stakeholders who are involved in delivering the LHA and examines the way in which its introduction has affected the work of their organisation.
Press release ~ Fifteen Months On: An Interim Evaluation of running the LHA in the nine Pathfinder areas ~ DWP LHA website ~ Earlier reports ~ Brighton & Hove Pilot ~ Wales pilot ~ Homeless link
NAO: The National Audit Office calculate that 28% of all pre-trial hearings in magistrates’ courts do not proceed on the scheduled day and are adjourned to a later date, at a cost of £173 million annually.
The NAO found, however, that problems with the Crown Prosecution Service’s planning & preparation for magistrates’ court hearings are a contributory factor, including:
· insufficient oversight of cases
· urgent cases not being adequately prioritised
· evidence left incomplete and
· files being mislaid
The police and the courts also cause problems resulting in prosecution delays as often the police do not provide the evidence in time for the hearing and Her Majesty’s Courts Service staff move cases around at the last minute, sometimes giving prosecutors only a few minutes’ notice
Press release ~ Crown Prosecution Service: Effective use of Magistrates’ Court Hearings - Full report (1Mb) ~ Summary ~ No Witness, No Justice ~ Charging Initiative ~ Local Criminal Justice Boards
DWP: A study - Work Focused Interviews and lone parent initiatives: further analysis of policies and pilots (report series number 319 ) - published by the Department for Work and Pensions sets out findings from research which follows up the longitudinal evaluation of Work Focused Interviews (WFIs) for lone parents and presents findings on recent delivery changes as follows:
· two measures that have been introduced nationally across all Jobcentre Plus districts - mandatory action plans and Childcare Assist; and
· two measures that have been introduced in the six "Work Works" pilot areas - NVQ level 3 training provision and the In Work Emergency Fund (IWEF).
Full report ~ Summary ~ Childcare Assist (scroll to page 4)
ESRC: Current debate about the government's proposed education reforms may be based on a false premise as, according to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), education policy by itself contributes little to the rate at which people move between social classes.
Comprehensive schooling is neither less nor more effective at promoting social mobility than a selective system and only has an intermediary role between where people start out and where they end up, which suggests that middle class parents must be finding other ways to give their children an advantage in life.
Press release ~ 'Education and Social Mobility in Scotland in the 20th Century' ~ Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – Social Mobility ~ Scottish Household Survey (SHS) ~ Scottish Mobility Study of 1974 ~ British Household Panel Study (BHPS) ~ Social Class and Educational Attainment: A Comparative Study of England, Wales And Scotland ~ Patterns of Social Mobility: A Comparative Study of England, Wales and Scotland
DTI: A new Super Quango intended to put ‘equality at the heart of modern Britain’ has been given the go-ahead with the Equality Act gaining Royal Assent.
Individuals experiencing discrimination and prejudice on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, religion and belief or sexual orientation will, we are promised, have easier access to help & support and businesses will have improved advice & information through the single Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) from October 2007.
The CEHR will bring together the work of the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission from October 2007 and that of the Commission for Racial Equality from 2009, ‘putting expertise on equality, diversity & human rights in one place’.
The Act will introduce a new 'gender duty' which will require public bodies to take account of the different needs of men & women to ensure equality of opportunity when preparing policies or providing services and outlaw discrimination on grounds of religion or belief in providing goods, facilities or services, education or rented accommodation.
Press release ~ Equality Act 2006 ~ Equality Institutions review
Attorney General / CPS: The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC has announced, in an oral statement to the House of Lords that following a thorough review, that three shaken baby syndrome (SBS) convictions may give rise to some concerns.
· one male convicted of murder in 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment;
· one male convicted of manslaughter in 2001 and sentenced to three years imprisonment;
· one female convicted of manslaughter in 1994 and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
The Attorney has also announced that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) will be implementing new guidance in all cases on the way the prosecution team instructs expert witnesses.
Press release ~ The Review of infant Death cases – Addendum to Report Shaken Baby syndrome ~ Expert disclosure guidance ~ 'Review of Infant Death Cases' ~ Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) ~ Scottish CCRC ~ CPS
The OFT has welcomed the publication of the preliminary report (final report due end of 2006) of the European Commission's Energy Sector Inquiry, which identifies a number of important issues including:
· the maintenance of a high level of concentration in wholesale markets, creating scope for incumbent operators to raise prices
· the denial of choice to consumers because of difficulties of market entry by new suppliers
· the absence of significant cross-border competition, with new entrants in gas unable to secure transit capacity on key routes
· a lack of transparency which prevents new entrants getting the information they require to compete
The UK has seen the average wholesale gas price rise by over 65% in 2005 compared to 2004 and this is, in part, due to problems elsewhere in Europe of the kind analysed in the report.
Press release ~ Preliminary report (scroll down) ~ Presentation on key Trends and challenges ~ EU gas price statistics ~ UK Fuel poverty strategy
Leicester-based charities have met with the Charity Commission at a seminar to help the watchdog develop a better understanding of the context in which Hindu charities work, to listen to views on how to develop its service and help the charities perform as effectively as possible.
The event formed part of a wider project which will consult with various faith groups in England & Wales to help the Commission develop its knowledge & understanding of the issues they face and consider how best to regulate religious charities.
Kenneth Dibble, Director of Legal and Charity Services at the Charity Commission, said: "With over 22,000 religious charities working in England and Wales, there's no doubt that faith-based charities play a vital role in our society. There are 28 Hindu charities generating an income of over £2 million based in Leicestershire alone.
Press release ~ Charity Commission – Promotion of religious harmony
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