Cabinet Office: The Cabinet Office has announced the move of Directgov from the e-Government unit to the Central Office of Information (COI). The transfer of Directgov's central operation & support functions and staff take place with effect from April 1st 2006.
The reason given for the move is that it is part of the ongoing programme to ‘ensure effectiveness & efficiency from the Cabinet Office - ensuring functions are placed where they will best serve the public’. Directgov will continue to take its direction from the Cabinet Office's Transformational Government Strategy.
Press release ~ Directgov ~ Transformational Government strategy ~ e-Government unit ~ Central Office of Information (COI)
Cabinet Office: The National School of Government is to have more autonomy to develop its role as a centre of excellence for learning and development across the public sector. Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy has announced to Parliament that it will become a non-ministerial department.
To mark its new status as a separate department, the National School is to organise its first major event in June 2006. The international conference to be held in London will focus on the model for public service reform being taken forward across a range of services in this and other countries, on how it is working in practice and what the future holds.
Press release ~ National School of Government ~ Cabinet Office ~ Professional Skills for Government ~ NSG - Professional Skills for Government
DfES: Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has announced the roll out of a continuing professional development programme (CPD) for Citizenship teachers, following a pilot of the scheme run from March to December 2005 and the publication of the 'Making Sense of Citizenship' CPD Handbook, which all schools should have received last month.
The scheme will now be extended to offer 1,200 Citizenship CPD places over the next two years, enabling Citizenship teachers to broaden & deepen their subject knowledge.
Press release ~ Sense of Citizenship' CPD Handbook ~ School Council Handbook and toolkit ~ Association of Citizenship Teaching ~ Institute for Citizenship ~ An Evaluation of the post-16 citizenship pilot 2004/05 and Initial teacher training for teachers of citizenship 2004/05: an overview report ~ Initial teacher training for teachers of citizenship 2004/05 ~ European Year of Citizenship
WYP: Hi-tech pocket-sized computers are helping police officers in West Yorkshire to outwit wanted suspects who try to bluff their way out of being arrested when stopped on the streets.
Officers issued with BlackBerry handheld devices can instantly download digital “mugshots” of people who are already on police systems to see that the person is not who they say they are. If there is an outstanding warrant for the person it will show on the screen and the officer can then access the warrant system.
The introduction of the devices has saved the Force an estimated £8.8 million, based on the time saved by officers being able to access computer systems while on the streets – an average of 145 hours per frontline officer per year, set against the fact that training on StreetWYSE takes only just a few minutes.
Press release ~ West Yorkshire Police ~ BlackBerrys ~ ‘Diary of a Police Officer’
Defra: The Whole Farm Approach, Defra's new web-based system designed to save England's farmers time & money, has gone live and is now open to the country's 120,000 farms. Farmers who sign up for the system will be able to start simplifying the way they do business with Government, hopefully saving £28m a year in total.
Farmers who register for the system will get access to the Whole Farm Approach web portal and receive a free CD which will enable them to install on their computers Appraisal, the self-assessment package which builds a detailed appraisal of their farm and its business.
Press release ~ Whole Farm Approach website ~ Partners for Success: A Farm Regulation and Charging Strategy ~ Appraisal ~ Defra WFA website
Defra: Defra has announced that the fees local authorities charge for regulating air pollution and other emissions from industrial processes will rise for 2006-7 by 2.5% over current levels. On top of the inflationary rise Defra is also changing the way in which the fees & charges are addressed by using a more risk-based approach.
A 2.8% increase for the year will apply to the Environment Agency water charges for A(2) processes (e.g. galvanisers and ferrous foundries). The Environment Agency will publish its full list of revised fees shortly.
Press release ~ Defra – Fees & charges ~ Best Available Techniques (BAT) ~ Risk based methodology ~ Risk based regulation
HMRC: In a move to improve transparency and accountability, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is pleased to announce a new external scrutiny arrangement with the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCC).
From today the IPCC has authority to investigate the most serious allegations of misconduct made against all HMRC staff in England and Wales. It will also have a guardianship role over all conduct-related complaints and allegations against HMRC officers.
Separate arrangements will be in place for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Press release ~ HMRC ~ IPCC
FSA: Recent research by the Financial Services Authority FSA found that over half of firms surveyed are failing to follow its new rules on disclosure of firm status and commission charges, introduced under depolarisation last year.
These two 'keyfacts' documents are important tools for helping consumers understand how the new advice regime works. 65% of these documents contained errors and many of these were in key sections that could make it difficult for consumers to compare and shop around.
It has produced a factsheet and examples of good and bad practice for small firms and will be conducting a further round of mystery shopping later in the year to make sure that firms have improved their procedures.
Press release ~ The Dear CEO letter ~ Factsheet for small firms and examples of good and bad practice ~ Mystery shopping research ~ Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 ~ Treating Customers Fairly ~ FSA tells industry that Treating Customer Fairly must be 'business as usual'
ODPM: Debate on local government reform has been opened further with the launch of a new web forum, which is intended to provide an opportunity for members of the general public to make their views known directly, as well as offering another channel for local government stakeholders - such as local authorities, the business sector and voluntary and community organisations - to contribute to discussions.
Initially, the online debate will be focused around the issues of local government restructuring & neighbourhoods.
Press release ~ Web forum ~ ODPM 'local:vision' ~ The Future of Local Government - Developing a 10-year Vision
Cabinet Office: After only 9 years in office the government has managed to publish an implementation plan for Transformational Government. Last November Transformational Government set out the Government's vision for a long-term transformation of public services to provide efficient, effective services that ‘citizens want’.
The implementation plan focuses on the immediate priorities to mid 2007. An annual report will be published in November 2006, covering the year's achievements in key delivery areas and looking forward to the following year to describe the challenges ahead.
Press release ~ Chief Information Officer Council ~ Implementation Plan ~ Transformational Government strategy ~ 'Timetable for Change' ~ Spending Reviews
DTI: The sight of micro turbines rotating in the wind and solar panels shining in the sun are set to become commonplace across the UK with the launch of the Government Microgeneration Strategy. The plan, including more detail of grants under the Low Carbon Building Programme, was published alongside the 2006 climate change programme review (See ‘In the News’ section above’).
The strategy aims to overcome barriers such as cost, information awareness, regulatory and technical knowledge that have historically stood in the way of the sector's expansion.
Press release ~ Microgeneration Strategy ~ Low Carbon Building Programme ~ Micropower Council ~ British Wind Energy Association ~ New Climate Change programme
DTI: Protecting vulnerable workers, cracking down on rogue employers and lightening the load for legitimate business will be the focus of the Government's employment relations policy for this coming Parliament.
In its strategy paper; 'Success at Work - protecting vulnerable workers, supporting good employers’, the Department of Trade and Industry sets out the Government's commitments on employment relations with an increased focus on vulnerable workers and those who abuse them.
Press release ~ 'Success at Work - protecting vulnerable workers, supporting good employers’ ~ ‘Success at Work’ links ~ BusinessLink.gov.uk ~ HSE website
DfES: Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has announced nearly £2 million to boost Geography in schools and the appointment of Rita Gardner, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), and David Lambert, Chief Executive of the Geographical Association, as expert Geography Advisers.
The DfES has worked with the Geographical Association and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to develop an Action Plan for Geography, which includes:
· A Geography Ambassadors Scheme
· A national website for Geography teachers
· Fieldwork & Leadership training, Quality Marks for schools and chartered geography status for teachers and additional resources for teachers of the Key Stage 3 curriculum.
To mark the launch of the Action Plan every secondary school in England will be receiving a copy of Michael Palin's ‘Himalaya’, to inspire teachers & pupils with the landscapes and peoples he encountered on his journey.
Press release ~ The Action Plan for Geography ~ Department for Education and Skills ~ Geography in Action website ~ Education outside the Classroom Manifesto ~ OFSTED Self Evaluation Framework ~ Surviving Extremes ~ Teachernet – Geography website ~ Royal Geographical Society ~ Geographical Association ~ Geography Focus Group
FSA: Increasing the financial skills of the UK's 18-40 year olds is essential if they are to meet the greater demands placed on them and avoid problems in the future, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) said as it launched a programme to help more than 10 million people over the next five years.
The need is highlighted in an FSA survey: 'Establishing a Baseline', which shows that, even after lower incomes and limited experience are taken into account, those in the 18-40 age group are less financially capable than their elders. Yet it is this group that today faces greater individual financial responsibilities.
Press release ~ Levels of Financial Capability in the UK: Results of a baseline survey ~ Financial Capability in the UK: Delivering Change ~ Consumer Research 47: ~ Consumer Research 47a: ~ Consumer Research 47b: ~ Helping Young Adults Make Sense of Money: Executive summary ~ Part 1- Strategy Document ~ Part 2 - Pilot Case Studies, Action Research and References ~ DWP Report No. 275: Financial Education: A review of existing provision in the UK ~ Summary version ~ Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) – Financial capability ~ TeacherNet ~ FSA – Previous reports ~ 'moneylaidbare' website ~ Building financial capability in the UK ~ FSA priorities ~ National Debt line ~ OFT Debt website ~ DTI debt website ~ Consumer credit Bill update ~ DCA- A choice of paths ~ Financial inclusion fund ~ The Debt Test on FSA website ~ BBC Onelife website ~ Experian ~ Building financial capability in the UK ~ Financial Healthcheck
Defra: Ben Bradshaw has urged businesses to take more action on waste as business & industrial waste issues are "moving up the political agenda". Defra has announced a new programme of pilot studies, business support services & research to help businesses get smarter in how they manage their resources & ultimately wastage.
The Government's Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) programme recycles revenue generated through increases in Landfill Tax and ploughs it back into a range of research, free services and support programmes for businesses.
Currently, for every tonne of household waste produced, a further ten tonnes of commercial and industrial waste is produced and Defra modelling suggests that commercial waste is likely to grow by 52% by 2020Press release ~ Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) ~ Review of England ’s Waste Strategy: A Consultation Document ~ Defra: Further links ~ Carbon Trust ~ Envirowise ~ Market Transformation Programme (MTP) ~ Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) ~ National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) ~ Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) ~ Strategic Supply Chain Group
DH: The Department of Health has launched the public consultation paper (closes 19 June 2006) on the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Order 2006. The Government is proposing to use its powers under section 60 of the Health Act 1999 to completely overhaul & repeal the provisions of the Pharmacy Act 1954.
The arrangements proposed will also, for the first time, introduce a statutory distinction between practising & non-practising registrants of the pharmacist and pharmacy technicians professions. It is anticipated that the proposed statutory Register of Pharmacy Technicians will include around 10,000 names when fully established.
Press release ~ Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Order 2006 ~ Health Act 1999 ~ Health Bill Information Paper: Medicines and pharmacies - Making the best use of the pharmacy workforce ~ DH Pharmacy website
Defra: The government says it is giving sea users, industries & conservation groups a chance to influence proposals for new laws that will improve the management of the marine environment. The Government has set out plans for its Marine Bill – ‘a new framework for the seas that will work towards delivering clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans & seas’. Consultation close Friday 23 June 2006.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Marine Bill website ~ Safeguarding Sea Life & related documents ~ Our coasts and seas - making space for people, industry and wildlife (3Mb) ~ Maritime State of Nature Report for England: getting onto an even keel (3.7Mb) ~ Our coasts and seas - A 21st Century agenda for their recovery, conservation and sustainable use ~ Marine Health Check 2005 (2.4Mb) ~ WWF Marine Act Campaign ~ WWF web pages on UK Marine and coastal ecosystems
Defra: A new strategy outlining the changes needed to improve the conditions in which ships are recycled has been published for consultation (closes 22 June 2006). Recycling ships in itself is an inherently sustainable activity as 95% of a ship's material can be reused or recycled. However there is collective concern about the adequacy of the health, safety and environmental standards of ship recycling yards, particularly in developing countries.
The draft proposals provide:
· New guidance on the sale or recycling of Government-owned vessels
· Recommendations for UK ship owners clarifying international and European obligations
· Recommendations for recycling facilities
Press release ~ Consultation ~ House of Commons Committee report ~ Government response ~ Defra Ship Recycling website
Defra: Defra has launched a consultation (closes 23 June 2006) to discuss with industry & others how a scheme designed to gather information quickly about the properties of nanomaterials - particles so small they are measured in billionths of a metre.- might work, but stressed that it would remain entirely voluntary.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Defra Nanotechnology website ~ Nanotechnology Research Co-Ordination Group ~ Characterising the risks posed by engineered nanoparticles: a first UK Government research report ~ Institute of Nanotechnology ~ The Royal Society ~ Joint Study - Nanoscience and nanotechnology
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is inviting views & comments (by 28 April 2006) on a review of its strategy for regulating the design of new nuclear power stations.
The document examines issues such as:
· whether the current licensing process is sufficiently transparent
· if any features of overseas regulatory regimes offer the UK benefits and
· the extent to which HSE should give credit to safety assessments undertaken by overseas nuclear regulators
Press release ~ Discussion document ~ HSE's submission to the Energy Review ~ DTI energy review ~ British Energy ~ Nuclear Safety Directorate ~ Greenpeace
Home Office: Victims of domestic and sexual violence will be better supported thanks to £2.5 million in new funding. Around £2 million will contribute to new dedicated domestic violence advisors in the specialist domestic violence court areas in England and Wales. The cash will also fund expert advisors for victims of sexual crime in Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) or specialist sexual violence voluntary organisations across the country.
The Minister also announced a new consultation - Convicting Rapists and Protecting Victims - Justice for Victims of Rape (closes 31 July 2006).
Press release ~ Convicting Rapists and Protecting Victims - Justice for Victims of Rape ~ Home Office Sexual Offences website ~ Victim Support ~ Rape Crisis ~ Rights of women ~ Project Sapphire - Improving rape investigation and victim care ~ National guidelines for SARCs
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published a consultation paper (closes 30 June 2006) on proposed changes to the Listing Rules (LR) for investment entities and on proposed changes to the Listing Rules and Disclosure Rules to implement the Transparency Directive (TD).
The proposed changes for investment entities replace the existing regime with a more principles-based approach to determining eligibility for listing.
Press release ~ Consultation documents (includes online response) ~ Feedback statement to the Discussion Paper 05/3 Wider Range of Retail Investment Products: Consumer Protection in a Rapidly Changing World ~ Changes to Listing Rules 2003
HMRC: Individuals & businesses are being asked to contribute to the review of powers, deterrents & safeguards for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The public consultation (closes 23 June 2006) is the second phase of a programme designed to ensure that the powers underpinning the new department are fair, efficient and make it easy for people to meet their obligations and claim their entitlements.
In particular, the aim is to strike a balance between having simple, accessible systems which help the vast majority who want to understand & comply with their responsibilities and having sufficient powers to tackle those who are deliberately non-compliant.
Press release ~ Modernising powers, deterrents and safeguards: A consultation on the developing programme of work
DfES: A package of measures to encourage 16 to 19 year olds to participate in education and training has been launched by the government and includes:
· Extension of financial support to 19 year olds completing a course which they started before their 19th birthday, up to a limit of age 20.
· Removal of the current distinction in financial support between education and specific unwaged training programmes so that both are entitled to Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
· New guidance for Jobcentre Plus advisers to improve and simplify the processing of claims for Jobseeker's Allowance by 16-17 year olds under the estrangement criteria.
· Two new pilot schemes in England: the Activity Agreement and Allowance and Learning Agreement pilots, to increase training options available to 16-17 year olds in employment with no training.
The Paymaster General has announced a series of autumn seminars to again bring together these key stakeholders with policymakers to inform the next phase of the review.
.Press release ~ Supporting young people to achieve: towards a new deal for skills ~ LSC guidance: Financial help for young people ~ Directgov – Financial help for young people
Defra: Defra, on behalf of the United Kingdom Agricultural Departments, has published Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2005, which reports on farming incomes, productivity, each of the main agricultural commodities, overseas trade and other matters relating to the agricultural industry. For the first time it includes chapters on rural development programmes, on animal health and welfare and on the food chain.
A seminar to discuss, among other things, prospects for farming incomes will be held in York on 3 May 2006.
Press release ~ Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2005 ~ Provisional estimates of farm incomes ~ Seminar
DfT: The Department for transport has published research which examined the rate of low glucose (hypoglycaemic) events in people with different types of diabetes, suggests that insulin-treated Type II Diabetes may not present as serious a risk to drivers as has previously been assumed.
If ultimately proven correct, the research could have implications for the driving licence entitlements of people with Type II Diabetes who use insulin over the short-term. Currently these people are not entitled to hold lorry or bus licences.
An EC Medical Expert Working Group, which has been considering the minimum medical standards for diabetes and driving, is also due to report shortly, so there will be no changes to driver licensing arrangements in the UK at the moment
Press release ~ DfT website ~ Road safety Research Report No. 61: Stratifying Hypoglycaemic Event Risk in Insulin-treated Diabetes ~ The role of risk analysis in the evaluation of fitness to drive ~ DH Diabetes website
ODPM: The future of service delivery to neighbourhoods is at a crucial turning point and government, councils and service providers are facing a "make or break" moment, according to an independent report on Neighbourhood Management Pathfinders.
The report 'Neighbourhood Management - at the Turning Point?' states that the 35 pathfinders are a "valuable tool" in regenerating deprived areas and supports the pathfinder neighbourhood management model being rolled-out more widely. But it warns that the approach is in danger of being a missed opportunity unless its value is recognised.
Press release ~ Neighbourhood Management - at the Turning Point? ~ Summary version ~ The national evaluation of single LMCs ~ Rolling out Neighbourhood Management: A theme report from the Pathfinder Programme ~ Neighbourhood Management Pathfinder Programme Baseline report ~ Alternative Approaches the Neighbourhood Management: 7 case studies and Analysis ~ Alternative Approaches to Neighbourhood Management: 6 full case study reports ~ Neighbourhood Management Pathfinder (NMP) programme ~ National Evaluation of the NRU’s Neighbourhood Management Pathfinder Programme
DTI: Based on ‘output per worker’ (a headline measure of productivity) - the UK has halved the productivity gap with France and closed it with Germany since the mid-1990s. It is also the only country in the G7 to have kept pace with US productivity over the last decade.
Press release ~ The UK Productivity and Competitiveness Indicators report
DTI: Research published by the Government claims to show the benefits parents are experiencing as a result of family friendly legislation introduced since the last survey in 2002. The survey reveals a change in the availability & take-up of flexible working entitlements with 68% of mothers now saying that flexi-time is available to them and 47% now working flexi-time, compared to just 17% in 2002.
Press release ~ Maternity and Paternity Rights and Benefits: Survey of Parents 2005 ~ Business Link – Flexible working ~ Acas Flexible working ~ The Right to request flexible working ~ Work and Families Bill (click on ‘W’) ~ Details on the Work and Families consultation and Government response ~ Results of the Second Flexible Working Employee Survey 2005 ~ DTI Working Parents website
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported to Parliament on the financial management of the European Union by summarising the main findings of the European Court of Auditors’ report.
Sir John’s report noted that, during 2004, Member States notified the European anti fraud office (OLAF) of some 9,400 cases of irregularities, including possible fraud, with a value of €978 million (£663 million). The number of cases increased by 12% and their value by 5% compared to 2003.
Press release ~ Financial Management in the European Union (1.2Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ European Court of Auditors ~ European anti fraud office (OLAF)
NAO: The public sector could save annually over £220 million in food & catering costs by 2010 - 11, while raising nutritional standards and increasing sustainability according to a new National Audit Office report. With the public sector in England spending around £2bn per year on food & catering services, there is significant scope for improvement by increasing joined up procurement, implementing good practice, enhancing the roles & improving the development of catering staff in the public sector and increasing the take up of meals.
There is considerable variation in the prices paid by public bodies for similar items; for example, the price of a pint of milk varied between 17p and 44p and a loaf of wholemeal bread cost between 32p and £1.10.
There is also a lack of transparency in contract caterers’ charges, with firms routinely obtaining hidden discounts & rebates, but not passing these back to the public sector. The public sector should do more to negotiate an increased share of these savings, which could be worth around £30 million a year.
Press release ~ Smarter Food procurement in the public sector: Part 1 ~ Executive Summary ~ Case Studies ~ A good practice guide ~ MoD’s Defence Catering Group ~ NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency ~ Food in Schools website ~ Serving time: Prisoner diet and exercise
NAO: Government departments are continuing to make progress in improving the quality & timeliness of their accounts. However, a large number of departments will need to make significant further effort if they are to meet the Treasury’s timetable to accelerate the production & audit of resource accounts in order to lay them no later than four months from the end of the financial year
This year the NAO issued qualified opinions on only two sets of departmental resource accounts compared with a total of four in the previous year. However the Home Office presented such fundamental problems that the Comptroller and Auditor General had to issue a ‘disclaimer of opinion’ because of the lack of audit evidence which he needed to reach an opinion on the truth & fairness of the account.
Press release ~ Financial Auditing and Reporting: General Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General 2004-05 ~ Executive Summary ~ Home Office: 2004-05 Resource Account ~ NAO guidance and good practice: Financial Accounting Update January 2006
NAO: Reserve Forces have provided a vital contribution to recent military operations, according to a National Audit Office report. As part of the biggest mobilisation since the 1956 Suez Crisis, over 12,000 Reserves have so far served in Iraq.
All of the Volunteer Reserve Forces are below strength, with the highest manning levels in the Territorial Army at 81% of the requirement as at December 2005. Turnover is consistently high, with 16% planning to leave in the next year. Of those planning to leave nearly half said that it was no longer enjoyable, around 40% said that they had received inadequate support and around a quarter said that they had received inadequate training.
NAO press release ~ MOD press release in response ~ Ministry of Defence: Reserve Forces (2.1Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Support for reservists & employers ~ MOD TA website
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive has reminded employers that the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 come into force in a little over a week’s time on 6 April 2006 and will replace the existing Noise at Work Regulations 1989. The Regulations put the emphasis on identifying measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to noise at work, rather than simply relying on hearing protection, although this may also be needed in the short term.
A communications campaign has been launched through key trade journals, direct mail-outs, online newsletters & press activity to remind people of the simple rules of thumb to see whether the new regulations may apply. Employers in the music & entertainment sectors have a further two years transitional period, as the new Regulations do not come in to force in these sectors until 6 April 2008.
Press release ~ Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 ~ Noise at Work Regulations 1989 ~ HSE Noise at Work ~ HSE Free leaflets
DCMS: The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill has received Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament. The Act creates the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the public sector body which will be responsible for building the venues & infrastructure for the 2012 Games; managing the Government's interest in the Olympic project and protecting the public money going into it.
The legislation also:
· grants the ODA planning powers and the power to purchase & own land
· creates the role of Director of Olympic Transport, within the ODA, who will be in charge of co-ordinating the Olympic transport strategy
· grants the Mayor of London an Olympic-specific power to enable him to fulfil his obligations under the Host City Contract
· provides greater protection of Olympic and Paralympic intellectual property
· restricts opportunities for the commercial exploitation of the Games - giving the ODA powers to conceal or remove advertising & preventing street trading in the vicinity of venues and
· makes ticket touting in relation to the Games a criminal offence.
Press release ~ London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act (will appear here shortly) ~ London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill (click on ‘L’) ~ London 2012 - Olympic Delivery Authority
Defra: The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill, which creates two new organisations charged with conserving & enhancing England's valuable natural environment has received Royal Assent.
The Act sets up Natural England as a champion for the natural environment, bringing together English Nature, parts of the Countryside Agency and most of the Rural Development Service to conserve & enhance landscapes and biodiversity.
It also establishes the Commission for Rural Communities as a national rural adviser, advocate & watchdog.
Natural England and the Commission for Rural Communities will be formally established on 1 October 2006. English Nature and the Countryside Agency will be wound up on the same date.
Press release ~ Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (will appear here shortly) ~ Defra Bill website ~ Rural Strategy 2004
Defra: Regulations made last week apply waste management controls to agricultural waste for the first time in England and Wales. They will come into force on 15 May 2006 and will apply the same controls on agricultural waste that have applied to all other sectors of industry for many years.
Farmers will have 5 basic options for dealing with their waste, which can be used on their own or in combination:
· Store their waste on-farm for up to 12 months.
· Take their waste for recycling or disposal off-farm at a licensed site.
· Get an authorised waste contractor to take their waste away.
· Register license exemptions with the Environment Agency to recycle or dispose of their waste on-farm. Farmers can register at any stage during the first 12 months of the Regulations.
· Apply to the Environment Agency for a waste management license or a landfill permit to recycle or dispose of their waste on-farm. For most farmers obtaining a landfill permit for their farm dump will not be a viable option because of the engineering requirements and costs involved.
Press release ~ The Waste Management (England and Wales) Regulations 2006 (scroll down to 937) ~ Waste Recycling Directory for Business ~ Agricultural Waste Stakeholders’ Forum ~ Defra – Agricultural waste
DTI: Millions of consumers will hopefully enjoy greater protection from unscrupulous lenders as a result of the Consumer Credit Bill, which has just received Royal Assent. It is intended to boost to consumer ‘rights & redress’ ‘where borrowing of money is concerned and introduce major changes to the licensing of consumer credit businesses and new powers to drive rogues out of the market.
Press release ~ Consumer Credit Act 2006 (will appear here shortly) ~ DTI Bill website ~ Consumer Credit White Paper
Home Office: The Identity Cards Bill has received Royal Assent and the National Identity Scheme will hopefully provide all UK residents aged over 16 with a universal, highly secure means for safeguarding their identity.
The new agency that will issue passports and ID cards will be called the Identity and Passport Service (IPS). Incorporating the United Kingdom Passport Service (UKPS) and working closely with the Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate, it became operational on 1 April 2006.
It will not be compulsory to carry a card and there will be no new powers for police to demand to see a card. However, it is a universal scheme for everyone legally resident in the UK and, subject to further primary legislation, it will be compulsory to register on the scheme.
The Act includes an opt-out which means that until 1 January 2010, people applying for or renewing a passport can choose not to get an ID card, although their details will be entered on the National Identity Register.
Press release ~ Identity Cards Act 2006 (will appear here shortly) ~ Identity Cards Bill (click on ‘I’) ~ Home Office Identity cards website ~ United Kingdom Passport Service (UKPS) ~ Personal Identity process
Home Office: The new Terrorism Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence to:
· encourage terrorism, including to glorify terrorism
· disseminate terrorist publications, including by extremist bookshops and through internet activity
· prepare or plan to commit a terrorist act, or to assist others to do so and
· give or receive terrorist training, or to attend a terrorist training camp
The Act also:
· extends the maximum period for which people can be detained prior to charge under terrorism legislation from 14 to 28 days
· widens the grounds for proscription to include groups which encourage or glorify terrorism and
· increases the maximum penalty for a number of terrorism-related offences.
Press release ~ Terrorism Act 2006 (scroll down)) ~ Home Office terrorism website
Home Office: Having received Royal Assent the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality (IAN) Act, the government believes that the Act will enable it to implement the promises it made in its five year strategy for immigration and asylum published in 2005 which required primary legislation.
Provisions in the Act will:
· restrict appeals for those refused entry to the UK to work or study by implementing a Points-Based System for managed migration
· tackle illegal working through a new civil penalties scheme for employers by introducing fines per illegal employee, custodial sentences and unlimited fines for those found knowingly to use or exploit illegal workers
· allow data sharing between the Immigration Service, police & customs, as part of the e-Borders programme. Immigration Officers will have powers to verify identity against biometrics contained in travel documents and
· deny asylum to terrorists, improve our ability to strip citizenship from & deport those who pose a serious risk to the UK's interests and speed up the appeals process in national security deportation cases.
The Government will begin introducing provisions within the Act in June, with full implementation not expected until 2008.
Press release ~ Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (will appear here shortly) ~ IAN Bill (click on ‘I’) ~ Immigration Directorate
ODPM: The Council Tax (New Valuation Lists For England) Bill has received Royal Assent and the Act formalises in legislation the postponement of council tax revaluation in England, which the Government announced last September.
It removes the current statutory requirement for there to be a revaluation of domestic properties, in England, for council tax purposes on 1 April 2007, and then at intervals of not more than 10 years. These requirements are replaced with a power for the Secretary of State to set the date of any future revaluation subject to the affirmative resolution of the House of Commons.
Press release ~ ODPM LG Finance website ~ Council Tax (New Valuation Lists For England) Act (scroll down)
DCA: A blueprint for reform of the way law is done has been unveiled by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer.
The programme is set out in a document, Doing Law Differently and charts constitutional changes introduced by the department, including changes just currently coming into effect - changes involving the role of the Lord Chancellor - as well as plans & proposals for the future.
Press release ~ Doing Law Differently ~ DCA 0verview ~ DCA - Legal services Reform ~ Legal Services Review
DCA: The Criminal Defence Service Bill, which includes provisions to ensure that defendants who can afford to pay for their defence costs are made to do so, has received Royal Assent. The new Act paves the way for the introduction of a new means testing scheme under which high earners will no longer receive free criminal legal aid representation.
The new scheme will be implemented in the Magistrates' Courts from 2 October 2006, and is likely to be rolled out across Crown Courts by the end of 2007.
Press release ~ DCA - The Criminal Defence Service Bill ~ Criminal Defence service Act 2006 (scroll down) ~ Legal Services Commission ~ DCA Legal Aid website
HM Treasury: The Chancellor of the Exchequer has set out details of the new Office of Charity and Third Sector Finance, to be based in the Treasury. The new office will advise faith & non-faith charities and third sector organisations on gift aid.
It will also act as a policy and strategy network in HM Treasury bringing together all aspects of spending, financial services and tax policy relating to the third sector, including charities, voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals.
The new office will focus on financial support to the sector and will coordinate policy including on spending decisions for the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. It will also act as a central point of information for stakeholders, with a new website and email contact point.
Press release ~ Getting Britain Giving guidance ~ Gift Aid
HMRC: From 1 April 2006, businesses with a turnover up to £1.35m are able to join the Annual Accounting VAT simplification scheme. This doubles the previous threshold and allows more than one million businesses to join the scheme and spread their VAT payments throughout the year instead of grappling with a lump sum every quarter.
Annual Accounting Scheme is just one of several designed to help small businesses. The Cash Accounting Scheme allows businesses to pay VAT only when they receive payment from their customers, while the Flat Rate Scheme allows businesses to calculate their VAT by applying a flat rate percentage to their total turnover.
Press release ~ Annual Accounting Scheme ~ Cash Accounting Scheme ~ Flat Rate Scheme
WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases.
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links ’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that will nullify individual links, especially over a period of time.
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external websites