Lyons Inquiry:  Lyon’s roar announces need for more Local and less Central Government - Sir Michael Lyons has published his latest thinking on the future role and function of local government, arguing for a system of local government for the 21st century that can manage increasing pressures on public expenditure, increase satisfaction and build more prosperous communities


He sets out a challenge for central government to clear the space for effective 'place-shaping' by setting fewer & better-focused targets and reducing supervision of local government by central government.  


Sir Michael said:  “The gravitational pull of Government grants, targets and performance management has created an unhealthy situation where local councils are too often focused on the wishes of Ministers and their departments rather than their own citizens' needs and preferences…….


We are not making the most of the potential contribution which local government can make to national prosperity, well-being, and getting the most from what we as taxpayers spend”.

Press release ~ Prior Statement ~ National prosperity, local choice and civic engagement (2.8Mb) ~ Executive summary ~ Lyons Inquiry website and link to previous reports ~ Advice guide on Council Tax ~ DWP – Council Tax benefit ~ Lib-Dem Axe the tax ~ Council Tax – A guide to your Bill ~ CIPFA response to Lyons Inquiry ~ Local Government Association ~ Three Sector Summit


SDC:  Government should encourage ‘Green shopping’ - Government and business must take radical action to help people tackle climate change & environmental problems and get damaging products out of the shops.  According to the Government’s own advisory body, the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable, consumers need to be able to buy green products and services as second nature.


In a ‘chicken & egg’ situation. government & business are waiting on consumers to ‘go green’, while consumers are  ready & willing to do so, but can’t see the point, because they feel their efforts would be isolated and in vain.

According to the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable report – I will if you will – Britain already boasts a select range of sustainability success stories, which are down to a positive lead from business and government.  To make these work across the economy, Government & business must get radical solutions into consumers’ lives.


Instead of waiting on consumers to make decisions government and business must do it for them by:

·         Getting the most damaging products out of the shops and replace them with environmental products

·         Giving users up-to-date energy information by getting smart meters into every home by 2012

·         Taking the lead and make all schools & hospitals carbon-neutral by 2015

·         Automatically giving travellers the option to carbon offset their flights

·         Ensuring  that central government buildings and transport be carbon neutral by 2012

Press release ~ I will if you will ~ Summary version ~ Sustainable Consumption Roundtable ~ European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP) ~ Colour-coded energy-efficiency labels for new passenger cars ~ National Consumer Council (NCC) ~ Consumer Direct ~ Defra Energy efficiency ~ European Voluntary Code of Conduct on Energy Efficiency of Digital TV Services ~ Low Carbon Vehicle partnership ~ National Energy Action (NEA) ~ Timber Procurement ~ Fuelling the Future ~ European Voluntary Code of Conduct on Energy Efficiency of Digital TV Services ~ IEA’s One Watt initiative ~ International Electrotechnical Commission ~ BNXS03: Framework Directive for the Eco-design of Energy Using Products (EuP Directive) - An  Overview and Way Forward


Cabinet Office:  Beyond doubt or still doubtful beyond immediate use? - Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy MP has tabled amendments as the government ‘puts beyond doubt that the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill will only be used to deliver the Government's better regulation agenda’.


The government says that the Bill will only be used to deliver reductions in unnecessary red tape by reducing or removing burdens and obstacles to efficiency, productivity & profitability.


The amendments to the Bill include measures to:

·         Specify how the order-making powers in Clause 1 of the current Bill to will only be used to deliver better regulatory outcomes

·         Provide a statutory veto on the face of the Bill to be exercised by relevant Committees in both Houses

·         Extend the period Parliament has to determine which scrutiny procedure should apply from 21 to 30 days

·         Bring current & future regulatory activity in line with the Better Regulation Commission's five principles of good regulation: that regulation should be proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and targeted

Press release ~ Text of the amendments ~ Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill  (click on ‘L’) ~ Review of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 ~ Better Regulation Commission ~ Rise of red tape ~ Burdens Barometer 2006 ~ A Bill for Better Regulation: Consultation Document (closed)  (Very, very large file 5Mb) ~ Summary of the consultation responses ~ CBI and Regulation ~ Institute of Directors ~ Forum for Private Business – Red Tape ~ British Chambers of Commerce ~ Federation of Small Businesses


Defra: Exports to be beefed up - Prime British beef can now be exported again two months after EU Member States voted to lift the export ban on British beef.  Exports of UK beef, products containing bovine material & cattle were banned in March 1996 after it was announced that there was a probable link between BSE in cattle and variant CJD in humans.


The UK is now able to export:

·         live cattle born after 31 July 1996

·         beef & products containing bovine material from cattle slaughtered after 14 June 2005

·         beef containing vertebral column or products derived from vertebral column from cattle slaughtered after 2 May 2006


EU and UK legislation to lift the export ban also harmonises the UK's controls on Specified Risk Material (SRM) with those of other EU Member States.  The most significant change is that the age at which the bovine vertebral column is classed as SRM will be reduced from the current 30 months to 24 months.


The removal of specified risk material (SRM) - which is estimated to remove over 99% of infectivity in cattle remains the main public health protection measure.

Press release ~ Defra BSE website ~ Exporters guide on exports of Beef and products containing Bovine material ~ Exporter guide on exports of cattle ~ International trade: Customer Information Notes - AE/06/83 - Conditions on the export of live cattle from the UK to another European Union (EU) Member State ~ EBLEX (the English Beef and Lamb Executive) ~ EU's Date-based Export Scheme (DBES) ~ Specified Risk Material (SRM)


DTI website:  Caveat Googler - Readers should note that the DTI has been making changes to its website over the last weekend and that they may well experience difficulties with links during the next few days.


Forthcoming Event:  Grey Employment – a financial, legal & recruitment reality for the future - We now have a population where the over 65s outnumber the under-16s, but of those who have already reached traditional retirement ages, many remain fully active of mind & body and continue to work well into ‘retirement’, or start new careers in different fields.  Thanks to better healthcare they represent a valuable resource for astute employers.


Changing the perception of age as a barrier to employment has become a key goal for most organisations as government policy & financial necessity sees employers wanting employees to pay into their pension schemes for as long as possible and a lack of ‘good quality’ young applicants available to replace them.


Older people represent a valuable source of skills & knowledge in a changing employment landscape and a conference - Active Third Age: Opportunities in Employment for Older People (on 25th May 2006) - provides delegates with expert analysis of guidance, training & support opportunities for older people, whilst spotlighting how employers can take advantage of the fastest growing pool of talent in the employment market.

Presentations include:

·         Keynote Address: Employment Opportunities for Older People - Minister (TBC) from the Department for Work and pensions (DWP)

·         Working in Later Life: Changing Life Patterns - Professor Stephen McNairDirector, Centre for Research into the Older Workforce

·         Opportunity Age – Government Strategy - Hugh Pullinger, Head of Older People & Ageing Society Division, DWP

·         Opportunities & Challenges for Older Workers and Employers - Elizabeth Farmer, Director, Positive Experience

·         Age Discrimination – Changing Perceptions - Andrew Harrop, Policy Manager, Age Concern England

·         Case Study: Older Workers in Action - Jim McKee, Regional Manager, B&Q

·         Identifying Needs of Older Workers - Laurie South - Chief Executive, PRIME

Full details - International Longevity Centre UK ~ Better Government for Older People ~ DWP ~ Centre for Research into the Older Workforce ~ Positive Experience ~ Age Concern England ~ B&Q employment website ~ PRIME


For information on more forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar


For WGPlus Industry News items please click HERE

General News

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'

Policy Statements and Initiatives

Defra:  Defra has announced that an additional £100,000 is being made available immediately to key rural support organisations that help farmers deal with stress.  Five organisations with close links with the farming community are drawing up proposals for providing additional advice & emotional support for those most in need.


The latest figures from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) show that over £1/2 billion has been paid to only half of all claimants as at 2 May 2006.

Press release ~ Rural Payments Agency (RPA) ~ Media article on RPA payments failure ~ Rural Stress Information Network ~ Farm Crisis Network ~ Farming Help ~ Institute of Rural Health ~ Rural Stress Action Plan ~ HSE: Farming Stress Website ~ 'Think Rural Health Data' booklet (includes CDRom) ~ Rural Health Forum ~ Rural Proofing for Health: A Toolkit for Primary Care organisations


Defra:  Defra is urging farmers to submit their 2006 Single Payment Scheme application to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) by the 15 May deadline wherever possible.


However, in recognition of difficulties this year in the distribution of application forms, he also announced that late claim penalties will not be applied to applications received between 15 and 31 May.


Applications received by the RPA after 15 May usually attract a penalty of 1% per working day up to 9 June. Any applications received after 9 June are rejected.

Press release ~ Rural Payments Agency (RPA)


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

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  The Department of Health has announced the publication of a package of documents for GPs and other health professionals to help patients lose weight & improve their health.  The package includes specific tools to help identify & treat children, young people & adults who are overweight or obese.


Also launched was the joint Health, Education & Skills and Culture, Media & Sport departmental Obesity Bulletin, a new publication targeting obesity leads in primary care trusts, strategic health authorities, local authorities, regional government offices and other government departments with the latest developments & good practice in the Government's obesity programme.

Press release ~ Obesity Care Pathway and weight loss guide document package ~ DH Obesity website ~ Obesity Bulletin ~ Measuring childhood obesity: Guidance to PCTs on data handling ~ Weight wise ~ Local Exercise Action Pilots (LEAPs) ~ Wired for Health ~ Small Change BIG DIFFERENCE initiative ~ Association for study of obesity

Annual Reports

General Reports and other publications

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

Legislation / Legal

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)

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

DTI:  The Takeovers Directive (Interim Implementation) Regulations 2006 (S.I. 1183/2006) were laid before Parliament on 27 April 2006 and will come into force on 20 May 2006.


The Regulations 2006 implement, on an interim basis, the EU Takeovers Directive by:

·         placing takeover regulatory activities of the Panel on Takeovers & Mergers ("the Takeover Panel") within a wholly statutory framework for the first time

·         adopting substantive rules which apply to the conduct of takeover bids covered by the Takeovers Directive

·         making provision concerning the override of "barriers to takeovers" in certain circumstances

·         imposing additional disclosure requirements on certain companies and

·         laying down provisions addressing the problems of, & for, minority shareholders following a successful takeover bid


Provisions permanently implementing the Takeovers Directive are contained in the Company Law Reform Bill, which is presently being considered by Parliament. The Bill will not have completed Parliamentary passage by 20 May 2006, the date by which the Directive must be implemented.

Press release ~ The regulation will appear HERE shortly ~ Implementation of the EU Directive on Takeover Bids - Guidance on changes to the rules on company takeovers ~ Closed consultation on implementation of EU Directive on Takeover Bids ~ Takeover Panel ~ Takeover Directive 2004/25/EC ~  DT_Company Law Reform Bill website ~ CLR White paper

Charity and Voluntary Sector

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

Business and other briefings

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

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

Editorial Content Statement

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For the official view of a source organisation, readers should click on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each item.


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