Home Office: The Home Secretary made a statement to the House of Commons last week on the deportation of foreign prisoners, including recommendations to strengthen the law on deportation.
The statement included:
· an update on progress in considering the cases of foreign prisoners released without proper consideration
· the ‘facts’ in relation to the reports on foreign national prisoners and the removal of failed asylum seekers
· the action taken by the Home Office in response to those reports
· the reforms necessary to the policy framework in which deportations are considered and dealt with
Press release ~ Home Secretary's statement to the House ~ Home Secretary’s Statement on foreign prisoners - 25 April 2006
DWP: The Department for Work and Pensions has announced a review of the Independent Living Funds (ILFs). The review is expected to report to Ministers by December 2006.
There are two Independent Living Funds operating throughout the United Kingdom paying grants to people with high support needs who wish to live independently:
· The Independent Living (1993) Fund is open to new applicants and currently supports over 12,500 people
· The Independent Living (Extension Fund) supports 5,200 people people who received help from the original Independent Living Fund which closed in 1993
Regular reviews of Non Departmental Public Bodies are required by Cabinet Office guidance and the last ILF "Quinquennial Review" report was produced in 2001.
Press release ~ 2001 review ~ Independent Living Funds (ILFs) ~ 'Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People' ~ White Paper 'Our health, Our care, Our say'
FSA: The Financial Services Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service have outlined, in a joint Discussion Paper (responses by 31 July 2006), possible options for the future funding of the ombudsman service’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Currently more than 70% of the ombudsman service’s funding comes from the fees which it charges firms for considering complaints (usually £360 – the first two cases per firm per year not being charged for). The remaining funding comes from annual fees payable by all firms, calculated according to their role in the different industry sectors they are involved in.
The Discussion Paper sets out a wide range of options for future funding:
· continuing the existing arrangements - a combination of a case fee & a levy
· raising all the funding by annual fees only, with no case fees, or alternatively by case fees only
· adopting a new approach which would combine a small flat-rate annual fee for all firms, and a case fee
After evaluating responses to the Discussion Paper, the FSA and the ombudsman service will publish a Consultation Paper in Autumn 2007, proposing changes to the future funding arrangements (and transitional arrangements if required).
Press release ~ Discussion paper 06/2 Financial Ombudsman Service compulsory jurisdiction: funding review ~ Discussion Paper 06/01 FSCS Funding Review ~ Financial Ombudsman Service
DfES: The Department for Education and Skills has begun a consultation (closes on 28 July 2006) on the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, which covers care, learning & development for children in all early years settings from birth to the August after their fifth birthday.
This framework is designed to improve the quality of childcare for all children regardless of the setting they attend and is intended to support practitioners in delivering ‘well-planned play-based activities’, which are tailored to the needs of individual children and enable them to have fun, develop & learn.
Press release ~ The Early Years Foundation Stage - consultation on a single quality framework for services to children from birth to five ~ Choice for parents, the best start for children – a ten year strategy for childcare ~ QCA - Early years and childcare qualifications ~ Directgov – Early Years ~ Early Years Digest ~ SureStart ~ Every Child Matters
DH: A consultation (closes 2 June 2006) into amendments to the Care Standards Tribunal (CST) regulations has been announced by the Department of Health. It has been set up to seek views on creating the CST regulations to enable it to consider applications for review or revocation of a disqualification order.
Press release ~ Consultation on amendments to the Care Standards Tribunal Regulations ~ Care Standards Tribunal ~ Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 ~ Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults and Care Standards Tribunal Regulations ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection ~ Healthcare Commission
Acas: Acas has published its latest policy discussion paper - New rules, new challenges - on the reform of the employment tribunal system. The paper looks at the impact that the October 2004 Dispute Resolution reforms are having on employment tribunal claims and addresses wider issues such as the increasing complexity of the process.
It suggests that the best way of reducing the number of employment tribunal cases is by focusing on improving employment relations solutions in the workplace and argues that more resources should be targeted on dispute prevention in the workplace, including mediation services.
Press release ~ New rules, new challenges: Acas' role in the employment tribunal system ~ Resolving Disputes ~ Acas Policy Section
NAO: The National Audit Office has reported that there were shortcomings in the process of setting up new arrangements to provide out-of-hours primary medical care in 2004, although there is no evidence that patient safety was compromised.
The report found that Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) who took over responsibility for organising out-of-hours services from GPs lacked knowledge & experience in this area and that although the service is now beginning to reach a satisfactory standard, no providers are meeting all the requirements and few are reaching the requirements for speed of response
The report also finds that the actual costs of providing out-of-hours care under the new system are considerably more than the specific DH allocation made to support these services and that there is scope to reduce costs without compromising quality by Benchmarking against the best services.
NAO press statement ~ DH Press statement ~ The Provision of Out-of-Hours Care in England (1Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ MORI Out of Hours Patient Survey ~ NHS Direct Online ~ BMA statement ~ DH – Out of Hours website
DTI: The DTI has published an independent economic cost benefit analysis on Sunday shopping. The cost benefit analysis will form part of the Government's decision as to whether there should be any change to the current Sunday Trading laws.
Should ministers decide to proceed further with the review there will be a formal consultation on the question of any change.
Press release ~ Report ~ DTI Factsheet ~ Sunday Trading Act 1994 ~ Practical advice for Business ~ Usdaw campaign ~ Keep Sunday Special campaign ~ Sunday shop and betting work - Employee's rights
Defra: Provisions in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 regarding the use of rights of way by motorised vehicles came into effect on 2 May 2006. They are intended to significantly curtail the scope for adding further public rights of way for motor vehicles to the local highway authorities' legal record of PRWs.
The new provisions will extinguish - subject to certain exceptions - all unrecorded PRWs for motor vehicles, so that they cannot then be claimed under the legal principal 'once a highway, always a highway'.
A new category of right of way – ‘restricted byway’ - enables ways where vehicular rights have been acquired by non-motorised vehicles, such as horse-drawn vehicles, to be recorded as restricted byways ensuring that the future use of these ways will be consistent with their history.
When these provisions come into force it will be an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 to drive a motorised vehicle on a restricted byway, except in certain circumstances. Section 67 ensures that, if the public right of way for mechanically propelled rights is extinguished, property owners are provided with a private right of way to access the land with mechanically propelled vehicles.
All claims made under Part 3 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to establish new rights for mechanically propelled vehicles which were lodged before 20 January 2005 (in England) or 19 May 2005 (in Wales) will be preserved and dealt with under the old law.
Press release ~ Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 ~ Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 ~ Defra - Use of mechanically propelled vehicles on rights of way ~ Regulating the use of motor vehicles on public rights of way and off road ~ Making the Best of Byways ~ Ramblers Association ~ News item
GLA: The first company to receive a GLA (Gangmasters Licensing Authority) licence is Fred Basset & Son, based in Wisbech, who supply workers in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. Licensing is mandatory under the new scheme, which was introduced to curb worker exploitation in the wake of high profile cases of exploitation including the Morecambe Bay tragedy.
The maximum penalty for operating without a licence from 1 October 2006 being 10 years imprisonment and a fine. It will also be an offence to use an unlicensed gangmaster from 1 December 2006.
Licensing will start in the shellfish gathering sector on October 1st 2006 and it is anticipated that the labour provider & labour user offences will be introduced in April 2007, following a Public Consultation on shellfish gathering licensing in Summer 2006.
Press release ~ Gangmasters Licensing Authority ~ Defra – Gangmasters website ~ CAB evidence on employment issues ~ Association of Labour Providers
DTI: The Department for Trade & Industry have announced a package of measures to support the Government's overhaul of company law. The developments are part of the Government's wish to respond to debates in the House of Lords as well as detailed engagement with interested parties. The measures include changes to Directors' Duties, Narrative Reporting and Derivative Claims.
As part of the package, the Government will also clarify the position on liability for disclosures under the Companies Act and for implementation of the EU Transparency Obligations Directive. The draft clauses on a proposed regime for liability have been issued for a short period of public consultation.
Press release ~ Amendments to be debated in House of Lords ~ DTI Current Law reform Bill ~ Company Law Reform White Paper ~ European Transparency Directive (relating to disclosure of shareholdings)
DH: The legislative foundation of the NHS, the NHS Act 1977, with its many amendments, is very complex and often inaccessible. To remedy the risk of misunderstanding & errors in relation to the law, the Law Commission has drafted two Bills, the National Health Service Bill and the National Health Service (Wales) Bill, to separate provision about the health service in Wales from that in England.
With reference to the Bills, a covering note has been provided outlining in detail the:
· purpose of the consolidation
· need for separate Bills for England and Wales
· nature of the amendments, and
· who to contact should you require further information
Press release ~ Covering note: Consolidation of NHS law in England and Wales - National Health Service Bill and National Health Service (Wales) Bill ~ National Health Service Bill (VLF 2.5Mb) ~ National Health Service (Wales) Bill (VLF 1.6Mb) ~ Superseded draft bill - Draft NHS Consolidation Bill: National Health Service Act 2006 (VLF 2.2Mb)
Help the Aged: Sir Roger Moore, best known for his starring role in six James Bond films, won the prestigious Hall of Fame award at last week’s Living Legends award ceremony, for his tireless work with several causes including UNICEF, deaf and blind people, Overseas Aid, Scope, the Variety Club of Great Britain and Help the Aged.
Presented to a public figure over the age of 60 who has actively served as an inspiration either through their voluntary work or everyday life, the Hall of Fame award has previously been held by Cilla Black OBE, Nelson Mandela, June Whitfield CBE, Barbara Windsor MBE, Dame Thora Hird OBE and Lord Attenborough CBE.
Accepting the award, he said:
“In my career I have portrayed a number of heroes on screen. However, in my work as a UNICEF Ambassador over the last 15 years I have realised only too well just how much we depend on volunteers - and it is the volunteers who are the true heroes of this world.
I was particularly humbled to stand amongst a number of real life heroes who were being recognised at this award ceremony for their work in helping improve the life of disadvantaged older people.”
Press release ~ Living Legends Awards ~ UNICEF Ambassador Roger Moore
FSA: The Financial Services Authority has announced that firms will (with immediate effect) no longer have to notify the FSA each year of the roles & responsibilities of their FSA-approved senior managers, saving the industry about £2 million a year in administration costs. Until now firms had to report, by 31 July each year, all Approved Persons with a significant management function who were in post at the previous 30 June.
In Consultation Paper 05/10 Reviewing the Handbook published last year, the FSA also proposed two other sets of changes - to the Money Laundering and the Training and Competence (T & C) regimes. The FSA confirmed in January in PS06/01 that it will remove the existing detailed rules on anti-money laundering controls in their entirety, replacing them in March with high-level requirements for firms to have their own risk-based controls on money laundering.
T & C rules will not apply from next year to those individuals in financial firms who deal only with wholesale or non-private customers.
Press release ~ Consultation paper 05/10 Reviewing the Handbook ~ Policy Statement 06/1 Reviewing our Money Laundering regime: Feedback on Chapter 2 and made text ~ FSA Handbook
FSA: The Financial Services Authority will undertake a large scale review later this year into the handling of client money by general insurance intermediaries. This decision follows pilot work which showed a worrying level of failure by both wholesale & retail intermediaries to comply with FSA rules on client money potentially putting consumers at risk of financial loss.
Common problems identified through the pilot studies included failure by firms to:
· perform a client money calculation, or of doing so incorrectly
· keep track of money held at third parties
· observe trust law and thereby potentially jeopardise trust account status
· inform customers of how their money is being handled
The FSA has now published a Guide to Client Money setting out what firms are expected to do, coupled with advice on how to do it.
Press release ~ Dear CEO Letter to wholesale firms ~ Pilot study findings ~ Guide to Client Money for General Insurance Intermediaries ~ Principles for Business
Pensions Regulator: The Pensions Regulator has published its statement on how it will regulate the funding of defined benefit schemes. The new document follows a consultation exercise launched in October.
There was little disagreement with the broad regulatory framework suggested, and respondents to the consultation indicated broad support for the use of filters, or "triggers", to help the regulator prioritise its workload. Suggestions were made about how these could be refined & clarified to meet the underpinning regulatory objectives and a number of changes have been made as a result.
Amendments cover the areas of:
· Triggers are not targets
· Technical provisions are the primary trigger
· Buy-out measure less important in defining the technical provisions trigger
· Flexibility on recovery plans
· Follow up assessment
· Contingent assets
Press release ~ Pensions Regulator’s Statement on regulating the funding of defined benefits ~ Pensions Regulator's Funding defined benefits code of practice ~ Other Scheme Funding documents
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