The following is a Bank Holiday edition of the WGPlus weekly newsletter and we hope that all our readers had an enjoyable Easter Break.


DH:  Caring at the end of Life - The Government claims that an NHS progress report shows that its drive to improve care for people at the end of their lives is making significant improvements to patient care.  The £12m programme aims to skill up all NHS staff who provide end of life care so that wherever a person dies - in hospital, in a hospice or at home - they receive good care and are treated with dignity.


The joint report from the National Directors for Older People and Cancer charts the progress the NHS has made during the past year since the End of Life Care Programme was launched.


Key achievements claimed include that:

·         nearly a third of GP practices have introduced new ways of working and

·         two thirds of hospital Trusts have implemented the recommended Liverpool Care Pathway in at least one ward.

Press release ~ The Gold Standards Framework ~ Liverpool Care Pathway ~ Preferred Place of Care ~ Improving Supportive and Palliative Care for Adults with Cancer  ~ DH –End of Life Care ~ NHS – End of Life Care programme ~ Building on the Best, Choice, Responsiveness and Equity ~ 'Our health, our care, our say'


CSCI:  Choosing the best care for YOUR needs - Millions of people looking for social care services for themselves, a relative or friend, could benefit from new advice published by the Commission for Social Care Inspection.  The advice is designed to help people choose the best care services for their personal needs, while doing as much as possible to maintain their independence & quality of life. 


It encourages people to:

·         talk to the right care professionals

·         ask the right questions and

·         become better informed in the way they choose their care


The Commission has also launched its new website designed to:

·         give the public better information on choosing the right care for them, and

·         find lists of registered care providers and inspection reports for their area

Press release ~ New Commission website ~ Choosing the right social care service for you booklet ~ Choose & find care ~ Internet Plain English Crystal Mark ~ RNIB Web Accessibility Centre ~ Association of Social Care Communicators ~ OFT: Care Homes for older people in the United Kingdom – A guide to unfair terms in privately funded care home contracts ~ OFT market study ~ Pension Service on care homes ~ National Minimum Standards


Ordnance Survey: Digitally healthier use of resources - Every ambulance trust in England is to benefit from greater access to Ordnance Survey’s most detailed digital geographic information (GI) from this month.


An agreement between the mapping agency and The Information Centre for Health and Social Care, acting on behalf of the NHS in England, was signed in November 2005 covering more than 600 health services, including primary care trusts, strategic health authorities, NHS trusts and cancer registries.  So far 330 have applied to be part of the pilot and now 31 ambulance trusts are eligible to join.


Bolton Primary Care Trust (PCT) is using data provided by the Pilot NHS (England) Agreement to drive forward existing processes & underpin new ones.  GI enables the PCT to plan the availability of services & distribution of resources based on location & specific patient requirements.


This has included:

·         pinpointing pockets of deprivation within outwardly prosperous areas

·         gauging the demand & take-up of health services and

·         evaluating potential sites for resource centres based on the location of public transport links

Press release ~ Pilot NHS (England) Agreement ~ Ordnance Survey - Health ~ The Information Centre for Health and Social Care


DTI:  They may be small but they have great potential - Cutting edge micro & nanotechnology projects across the UK are set to get nearly £10 million from a £90 million fund aimed at ‘unleashing’ the commercial potential of these technologies.


It will be allocated to six new projects, via the DTI's Micro and Nanotechnology Capital Facilities Programme, and will create facilities that are open to all and which will help the UK transform new ideas into business success.

Press release ~ DTI's Micro and Nanotechnology Manufacturing Initiative ~ Centre of Excellence for Metrology in Micro and Nano Technology (CEMMNT) ~ Centre for Micro and Nano Moulding (University of Bradford) ~ metaFab (Cardiff University) ~ Fluence (Epigem Ltd) ~ Photonix ~ Institute of Nanotechnology ~ Nanotechnology Issues Dialogue Group


General News

DH:  Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt has announced a reorganisation of Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in England.  The number of SHAs will be reduced from 28 to 10, which the government claims will ensure that the NHS is ‘structurally able to deliver the next stage of health reforms’.  The new Strategic Health Authorities will be established from 1 July 2006.

Press release ~ Map of new SHAs ~ Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS


Patent Office: The UK Patent Office has launched a new mediation service to help companies & individuals involved in intellectual property (IP) disputes.  The initiative is aimed at encouraging more use of alternative dispute resolution in IP and it will cover the full range of intellectual property rights.


The Patent Office has also set up a new Mediation Service team made up of staff with IP hearings experience who have received mediation training & accreditation at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).

Press release ~ Patent Office – mediation ~ Non-binding patent opinions service ~ Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) ~ IDA Ltd and Others v Southampton University and Others ~ Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys ~ Chartered Institute of Patent Agents ~ Patents Act 2004


DCMS:  The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, has announced plans to ensure the new BBC Trust has the right balance of change & continuity by appointing three BBC governors to the new body.


In line with commitments in the BBC white paper, published last month, to provide the continuity necessary for the Trust to operate effectively from the start, Dermot Gleeson, Richard Tait and Jeremy Peat will join the chair, Michael Grade, on the Trust.


The Trust will have 12 members in total, including its chair & a new vice-chair and the DCMS will advertise shortly for eight new trustees, including the vice-chair.  Individual Trust members will not have specific representative functions, except in relation to the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom.  Jeremy Peat will be the Trust member for Scotland.

Press release ~ Nolan principles ~ Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments ~ BBC white paper and other charter review publications ~  DCMS - Broadcasting ~ Digital Switchover website

Policy Statements and Initiatives

HM Treasury:  Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn, have committed the UK Government to spending at least $15 billion, or £8.5 billion, on aid for education over the next ten years.


They also launched a pamphlet 'Keeping promises: delivering education for all' setting out the challenge of getting every child in every continent into school and the importance of keeping the promises of an extra $50 billion a year in aid that were made in 2005.

Press release ~ 'Keeping promises: delivering education for all' ~ DFID website ~ HM Treasury ~ Fast Track Initiative case studies ~ Millennium Development Goal - Education ~ List of Gleneagles G8 commitments on Africa and Development ~ Mozambique country profile ~ G8, From commitment to action: Education


DCMS:  The National Sports Foundation (NSF) has opened for business, doubling the reason for the private sector to invest in local community sports projects across England, as the NSF will match donations (£50k minimum) from commercial bodies and also contributions from individuals.


The Government is to invest £34.5m in the Foundation over the next two years (£14.5m in 2006-07 and £20m in 2007-08) to attract this new investment in three key priority areas:

·         2012 Kids - getting more children and young people playing sport

·         Women into Sport - involving more women in playing sport and

·         Fit for Sport - investment in clubs, coaches and volunteers in local communities

Press release ~ 'Chance to Shine' ~ National Sports Foundation (NSF) ~ Sport England ~ Women’s Sports Foundation ~ Fit for Sport


DfES:  A fully qualified & trained workforce in Further Education (FE), one of the main requirements of last month's FE White paper, has come a step closer with key measures being put to consultation (closes 4 July 2006)  with staff & partner organisations in the Lifelong Learning sector.


The Government's Success for All programme for FE reform in 2002 set out to create a fully qualified workforce by 2010 and the government is now seeking views on the implementation of:

·         New 'Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills' (QLTS) status, which comes into effect from 2007

·         Qualifications for newly appointed Principals of FE colleges

·         Mandatory continuing professional development requirements (CPD)

Press release ~ Professionalisation of the Learning and Skills Sector ~ White paper: FE Reform: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ Equipping our Teachers for the Future: Reforming Initial Teacher Training for the Learning and Skills Sector  ~ Lifelong Learning UK ~ Success for All programme for FE reform


ODPM:  The government has launched a consultation (closes 21 June 2006) on a new Respect Standard for Housing Management, which aims to ‘encapsulate the core components of an effective response to tackling anti-social behaviour & delivering respect’.


The Government's proposals are intended to encourage social landlords to sign up to the Standard thus signalling their commitment to helping to create, sustain & improve places where people feel bound together by shared values and where anti-social behaviour & disrespect for people and local environments are not tolerated.

Press release ~ Respect Standard for Housing Management: Consultation Paper ~ Respect Action PlanBuilding respect in neighbourhoods ~ ODPM – ASB and Housing

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

Defra: Defra claims that the way Local Wildlife and Geological Sites in England are identified, selected & managed will be made easier through a more transparent & consistent approach promoted by their new guidance.


Traditionally, partnerships supporting Local Sites systems have organised themselves in a number of different ways.  This guidance claims to have drawn together best practice, while accommodating the strengths of existing systems, with the aim of creating a more consistent sense of the value & importance of Local Sites by securing broader awareness & support for their protection.

Press release ~ Guidance: Local Sites Guidance on their Identification, Selection and Management ~ Natural England ~ Wildlife Trusts ~ Biodiversity Action Plans ~ Local Geodiversity Action Plan


Defra: Some of the nasty whiffs from local sewage treatment works could be a thing of the past thanks to a new voluntary Code of Practice published by Defra.   The Code of Practice on Odour Nuisance from Sewage Treatment Works highlights to water companies & local authority regulators:

·         suggested good practice for controlling bad smells and

·         how best to respond to complaints of odour from members of the public.


The Code applies to all sewage treatment works & other facilities where sewage is contained or handled (such as sewage pumping stations, but not sewers) to which the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 apply.

Press release ~ Code of Practice ~ Defra Odour & insect website ~ Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations

Annual Reports

DH:  The national suicide rate is at its lowest level since records began, according to the third annual report of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.  The report also shows a sustained drop in the number of young men committing suicide - which is the first sustained downward trend for 25 years - and a drop in the number of suicides among prisoners and mental health in-patients.


The report outlined specific areas where progress is being made:

·         the ongoing development of three mental health promotion pilots aimed at young men in Camden, Manchester and Bedfordshire

·         the commissioning of research into the risk of suicide & self harm amongst lesbian, gay & bisexual people and a separate research project looking at suicide risk amongst different ethnic minority groups

·         the phased withdrawal of the commonly prescribed painkiller co-proxamol

·         the three centre study of deliberate self-harm to help provide accurate data, trends and patterns to enable effective interventions to be developed.

Press release ~ National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England - Annual Report on Progress 2005 ~ National Standards: Local Action: Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005/06-2007/08 ~ Suicide Prevention Strategy for England ~ Preventing Suicide Toolkit ~ Safety first: Five year report of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and homicide by people with mental illness. ~ The Samaritans ~ Supporting implementation of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy: A public mental health approach ~ Bullying & suicide ~ Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health (2005) ~DH Black and Minority Ethnic Mental Health programme website ~ Shift

General Reports and other publications

DTI:  "Competition and Choice in the UK Audit Market", an independent analysis of the audit market in the UK has been jointly published by the DTI and Financial Reporting Council (FRC).


The research, conducted by economic consultancy Oxera, looked at whether the current market structure (with its apparent high degree of concentration) has implications for the efficient & effective operation of the market.


It found that:

·         97% of the FTSE 350 companies are audited by one of the 'Big Four' accountancy firms

·         many large listed companies report an effective choice of only two or three audit firms and,

·         in a small number of cases, companies may have no effective choice of auditor in the short term


The FRC will use the research as a basis for taking forward a wider consultation with all stakeholders on the implications that the current market structure has for the efficient & effective operation of the market.

Press release ~ Oxera ~ Competition and choice in the UK audit market - Executive Summary ~ Full report ~ DTI ~ Financial Reporting Council


ESRC:  Self-employed male Britons have been found to work longer hours for lower wages than those of their employee counterparts.  This is attributed to them facing greater uncertainty and so working harder as a way to insure their future livelihoods.


In addition, according to the research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, there was no evidence of growing female self-employment, or the anticipated greater labour flexibility resulting from self-employment during the 1990s.


The project, conducted by Professor Simon Parker and Olufunmilola Ajaji-obe of the Durham Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Durham, sought a better understanding of the nature of work and the labour supply of self-employed people by studying various employment data sources in the UK and the USA.

Press release ~ Explaining the Nature of Work and the Labour Supply of the Self-employed ~ Professor Simon Parker - e-mail: s.c.parker@durham.ac.uk ~ ESRC Society Today  ~ Durham Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Durham ~ Business Link – Setting up as self-employed ~ BL – Starting Up

Legislation / Legal

DCA:  New regulations raising the income levels below which people qualify for civil legal aid have come into force and income eligibility levels for all types of civil legal aid provided by the Community Legal Service will be increased by 2.7% in line with the Retail Price Index.  These new income levels will be used when conducting the means test used to grant civil legal aid.


In addition, people receiving Independent Living Fund allowances will have that benefit added to the list of payments that are not included in assessing an applicant's financial means.


Individuals in receipt of financial support from the National Asylum Support Service will be deemed to be financially eligible for most immigration cases and the capital limit for asylum services has been raised to £8,000 in line with the limit for most other services.

Press release ~ Community Legal Service ~ Independent Living Fund ~ National Asylum Support Service

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

FCO:  Government continues to try & sell EU to voters - A new website, providing what Minister for Europe Douglas Alexander describes as ‘straightforward, factual and accessible information on the European Union’, has been launched.  The government claims that the new website will be both a valuable resource on UK EU policy and for the debate on the future direction of the EU.


The Foreign Office is also launching a new EU Guide, which is being sent to public libraries and other information points around the UK.

Press release ~ Britain in the EU website ~ Guide to the EU (1Mb)

Charity and Voluntary Sector

BIG:  The Big Lottery Fund has announced that a new single front door into Lottery funding has opened with the launch of the website lotteryfunding.org.uk.


All open schemes operated by the 14 lottery funding distributors can be accessed through the new portal, which will give potential applicants access to information on what to do if they have a project idea and do not know what to do next. 


The funding search facility will provide guidance on the most suitable funding programme after receiving answers to four simple questions.

Press release ~ Lottery Funding portal ~ Big Lottery Fund

Business and other briefings

FSA:  Financial firms can now benefit from the launch of a new online 'personal handbook' service from the Financial Services Authority, which will allow any firm to build a 'personal handbook' containing only the rules & guidance relevant to it, simply by answering ten questions about its business.


The FSA's Handbook contains rules covering thousands of firms who are involved in the many & diverse types of business regulated by the FSA.  As these range from multi-national investment banks to car dealers selling insurance, not all rules apply to all firms.


There will be a live demonstration of the 'personal' and 'focus on' handbook facilities at each of the upcoming regional roadshows for small firms.

Press release ~ FSA Handbook Online ~ Roadshows


HMRC:  HM Revenue & Customs have published the Terms of Reference for the Review of HMRC links with large business, as announced by the Chancellor on Budget Day 2006, which provide details of its scope & reporting protocol, in relation to its objective of improving the relationship between HMRC and business.


In the coming weeks, the Review team will meet with interested parties & representative bodies to outline procedures & timetable for engagement and to begin the more detailed consultation process.  In the meantime interested parties should contact Ajit Philipose, Large Business and Employers Customer Unit on 020 7438 4356 or ajit.philipose@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

Press release ~ Review of Links with Business: Terms of Reference


HMRC:  VAT Business Brief 05/06


1.       VAT: Interim position following the Court of Session's decision in Edinburgh's Telford College

2.       New Computerised Transit System - Delivery of new XML declaration channel

3.       Issue of VAT Notes No 1 2006 (and Budget Supplement)

Press release ~ Business Briefs 2006 (it sometimes takes time to appear here)

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

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