Defra: Environment Minister Ian Pearson has agreed to make a drought order to allow Sutton and East Surrey Water to limit or prohibit non-essential uses of water in its region following a hearing before an independent Inspector at which representations & objections were heard.
This Drought Order is the first of its kind made since 1995, and empowers Sutton & East Surrey Water to prohibit or limit the uses set out in the Drought Direction 1991. It does not require the Company to prohibit water uses. Implementation is a matter for the Company in the light of changing circumstances.
The Drought Order is valid for 6 months.
Press release ~ Defra Water conservation website ~ Advice for consumers ~ Sutton and East Surrey Water
BNSC: UK space experts and city financiers have met at a British National Space Centre Case for Space Finance conference to discuss how investing in space can bring large returns & improve society at the same time. A partnership of 11 Government departments & research councils, BNSC represents the UK internationally and at the European Space Agency.
Media company Avanti Screenmedia and satellite manufacturer EADS Astrium signed a European Space Agency (ESA) contract to implement the HYLAS project, which is set to bridge the digital divide, bringing affordable broadband internet to rural areas across the UK and Europe via satellite. The HYLAS satellite is due for launch in late 2008 and has an expected lifetime of 15 years.
Press release ~ British National Space Centre (BNSC) ~ Case for Space Conference ~ Avanti Screenmedia ~ EADS Astrium ~ European Space Agency (ESA) ~ (ARTES) 3 programme ~ HYLAS
DWP: Health & Safety Minister Lord Hunt has welcomed the CBI / AXA Absence Survey, showing that sickness absence across the public sector is down from 10.1 days per person to 8.5 and committed Ministers to reducing this further. 1 million people a week take sick leave - and while the majority will return to work quickly, in an average week 3,000 people are off sick for more than six months and of those 80% will not work again for the next five years.
The Government's Health, Work and Well-being (HWWB) strategy helps by setting out a blueprint for change to create healthier working environments whilst ensuring people get the help and understanding they need to stay in work if they become ill.
Press release ~ Ministerial Task Force on Health, Safety and Productivity ~ Fleshing out the Government's Health, Work and Well-being (HWWB) strategy ~ Understanding HSE’s Health Agenda ~ Managing sickness absence & return to work
Dstl: Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has been given the green light to build a new three-storey office & laboratory complex at Porton Down. Around 800 staff (including sub-contractors and consultants) are due to move to the site by 2008, bringing numbers to approximately 2,030 and making Porton Down the HQ for Dstl.
Dstl has a programme to rationalise eight sites around the UK to three core locations, including Porton Down, which will become Dstl’s headquarters. The new accommodation at Porton Down and the co-location of around 800 staff is intended to create a cohesive centre of scientific excellence with world-class facilities.
Press release ~ Dstl ~ Porton Down Volunteers ~ BBC Timeline: chemical warfare and Porton Down
ESRC: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has announce funding for several new initiatives designed to both support the highest quality social science research and the infrastructure required to underpin high quality research.
The new funding initiatives include the:
· new Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre
· Centre for Microdata, Methods and Practice
· 2006/7 Centres competition, to be launched in early summer
· continued funding of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS).
· further funding for the National Centre for E-Social Science (NCeSS).
Press release ~ ESRC Society Today ~ Centre for Microdata, Methods and Practice ~ Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) ~ National Centre for E-Social Science (NCeSS)
DCA: The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner, Zahida Manzoor CBE, has announced that she will be levying a £250k penalty on the Law Society because of the inadequacy of the Law Society's Plan for securing improvements to its complaints handling services for 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.
Press release ~ ’Pushing for Change’ ~ Legal Services Complaints Commissioner (LSCC) ~ Law Society ~ Consumer complaints service ~ Summary of Performance Measures and Statistics: Consumer Complaints Service January 2006
Defra: Local authorities with the lowest recycling rates in England are to have their targets for 2007/08 raised from 18% to 20%. To help them meet these targets, Defra is also proposing more targeted intervention and engagement with the poorest performers. ‘Ministerial engagement’ is suggested should these methods fail.
Following a recent consultation Defra is to look at the potential for home composting to contribute to a local authority's recycling and composting performance. This would involve changes to the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme which are currently being assessed.
Defra will soon be writing to local authorities to invite proposals for pooling arrangements whereby resources & experience can be shared to help meet targets.
The review of England's Waste Strategy - consultation for which closed on May 9th - is proposing not only much greater levels of recycling (with a 50% recycling target for 2020) but a much greater emphasis on waste minimisation in the first instance.
Press release ~ Waste Performance Management website ~ Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme ~ Hierarchy of engagement and intervention action ~ Review of targets for recycling and composting of household waste and their interaction with other targets ~ Consultation on the Review of England's Waste Strategy ~ WRAP Home Composting Scheme
DH: Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced a reorganisation of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England. The number of PCTs will be reduced from 303 to 152 and will be more closely aligned with Local Authority boundaries with the intention that patients will benefit from more joined-up working with the NHS and social services covering the same areas.
More than 70% of PCTs will mirror Local Authority boundaries, which should mean that patients will have all of their needs looked at and avoid unnecessary duplication. The new PCTs will be established from 1 October 2006.
Press release ~ Maps of old & new PCT Boundaries ~ Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS ~ White paper - Our Health, Our Care, Our Say ~ DH- PCT website ~ Health Select Committee: Changes to Primary Care Trusts (4Mb) ~ Amicus response to White paper
DH: It has been decided that, from 1 July 2006, there will be 12 NHS ambulance trusts in England, with mergers of many of the existing 29 trusts. By creating fewer & larger ambulance trusts, the government argues that there will be less bureaucracy, more money to invest in front line services and better care for patients.
Lord Warner emphasised that there will be no reduction in ambulance vehicles, or front-line staff and claimed that the benefits of creating larger trusts included:
· more investment in front-line services as trusts make savings in 'back-room' functions
· improved patient care by providing an opportunity to raise the standards of service to the level of the best
· better emergency planning with greater capacity & capability to respond to major incidents of all kinds and
· more integrated services & better career opportunities for staff
Press release ~ Strategic review of NHS ambulance services ~ Maps of old & new boundaries ~ DH Ambulances website ~ Healthcare Commission overview
DTI: With the UK becoming increasingly dependent on imported gas and concerns growing about delays to vital new facilities, Trade & Industry Secretary Mr Darling is encouraging planning professionals & local decision makers to consider the national interest when looking at planning applications.
In a connected statement on winter energy supply, Mr Darling also announced the formation of a new Business Energy Forum. The National Grid Winter 06/07 Consultation Document and the Joint Energy Security of Supply (JESS) report have also just been published.
Press release ~ Statement of Need ~ Annual DTI/Ofgem Joint Energy Security of Supply (JESS) report ~ National Grid's Winter 06/07 Consultation Document (scroll down to docs 84 a – d) ~ Engineering Employers Federation ~ Energy Intensive Users Group
Defra: Education Secretary Alan Johnson is consulting (closes Thursday 31 August 2006) on a framework for action for schools to become models of sustainable development in their communities, which contains ideas for:
· encouraging pupils to walk or ride to school
· interesting ways of exploring sustainable development issues in the curriculum and
· incorporating environmental projects in their buildings & grounds
The government claims that the consultation is the first to be ‘carbon neutral’ as, working with Climate Care, the government have offset the CO2 emissions arising from all printing & distribution, consultation events and response routes.
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ Sustainable Schools Executive Summary ~ DfT database on Sustainable School Travel ~ Sustainable Schools Website ~ Argyle Primary School ~ Climate Care ~ Promoting Walking to School - A Guide for Primary Schools ~ Walk to school website
Patent Office: The Patent Office is consulting (closes 21 August 2006) on a strategy which sets out how it proposes supporting innovation. The DTI, in its Innovation Report, acknowledged the important role the Patent Office can play in promoting innovation and to deploy its assets efficiently & effectively, the Office has prepared a draft strategy.
The strategy sets out the Office’s vision & role in supporting innovation and includes an extensive list of proposed support activities, some of which will involve working in partnership with other organisations.
Press release ~ Consultation on the Patent Office strategy for supporting innovation ~ DTI Innovation website ~
Innovation report: Competing in the global economy – The innovation Challenge
DfES: The DfES has announced the launch of a consultation (closes 9 August 2006) for a reformed Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) in England & Wales that will be introduced from 1 January 2007. The key reforms that will be consulted on include:
· normal pension age 65 for new entrants
· more choice and flexibility over the way members can plan and save for their retirement
· revised ill-health retirement benefit structure and
· cost sharing arrangements to ensure all parties paying an equal share of any future cost pressures
The package of reforms is intended to reduce, by £5.4bn, the long term costs of the TPS that would otherwise have been incurred as a result of continuing improvements in the life expectancy of teachers and lecturers.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) website
DH: Ivan Lewis, Care Services Minister, has issued best practice statutory guidance on the new Director of Adult Social Services (DASS) role, which has been created as part of the changes to chief officer portfolios made by the Children Act 2004. The new DASS will be on equal footing with Directors of Social Services and will be directly accountable to the Chief Executive.
The new role is intended to provide strengthened leadership, work on closer integration of health and social care as set out in the White Paper; Our Health, Our Care, Our say, and deliver strategic needs assessments.
Press release ~ Statutory and Best Practice guidance ~ Our Health, Our Care, Our say ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection ~ Children Act 2004
DH: Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis is helping care providers stamp out abuse by workers by issuing a step by step guide. In a speech to Community Care Live, Ivan Lewis underlined social care providers' statutory obligation to report incidents of abuse to the authorities.
The Minister also announced that he was launching a new section of the Department of Health website devoted to 'Dignity in Care'. The new web pages will provide visitors with an opportunity to send their views (by 31 July) to Ivan Lewis on how older people are treated.
Press release ~ Practice guide 07: Making referrals to the POVA list ~ Dignity in Care web page ~ Community Care Live ~ Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme
DCLG: The government has launched a new guide which they claim will help drive forward & support the tourism industry. The new good practice guide sets out a planning framework for tourism - identifying which national planning policies are most relevant to the tourism industry and offering advice to local authorities & the tourism industry on effective working practices to achieve attractive tourism developments.
The existing national planning guidance for tourism (PPG21) has been superseded by more recent national policies. Users will have three months to understand the approach & contents of the new guide before the cancellation of PPG21 on 1 September 2006.
Press release ~ Planning for Tourism: A Guide to Good Practice ~ PPG21 ~ Tourism Alliance ~ DCMS Tourism website
DfES: Education Secretary Alan Johnson has published new minimum nutrition standards for school food to ensure healthier eating throughout the school day, banning meals high in salt, fat and sugar or containing low quality meat from lunchtime menus.
Schools will be required to raise the bar further with even more stringent nutrient-based standards - stipulating the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, for school meals - introduced in primary schools by September 2008, and secondary schools by September 2009.
The School Food Trust will shortly be publishing a guide to support schools and caterers in the introduction of the new lunch standards.
The DfES has also published guidance to schools on how best to procure healthier food and re-negotiate, or in extreme cases, end contracts with firms that cannot or will not provide healthier food, while the Food Standards Agency has published its voluntary Target Nutrient Specifications (TNS) for a range of manufactured foods used in school meals throughout the UK.
Press release ~ Minimum nutritional standards ~ Food Standards Agency's voluntary target nutrient specifications ~ Procurement guidance ~ School Food Trust
NCSL: New approaches to leadership, which may mean not every school having its own headteacher, could be an answer to potential headteacher shortages, according to new National College for School Leadership (NCSL) research reports.
The research suggests that this new "system leadership" approach could:
· Provide solutions to potential headteacher shortages, as fewer headteachers would be needed
· Keep existing successful heads in the job as it would offer them new challenges and incentives
· Create more professional development opportunities for other school staff
· Give successful heads the chance to impact on other schools which really need their expertise
Press release ~ National College for School Leadership ~ Leading networks leading the system ~ New Models of Headship: Co-headship ~ New Models of Headship: Federations ~ New Models of Headship: Primary executive heads ~ New Models of Headship: Secondary or special school executive heads ~ School leaders leading the system ~ System leaders in profile ~ What does a system leader do? ~ Where do system leaders come from? ~
NCSL's Leadership Network ~ National Standards for Headteachers
Defra: The Chief Veterinary Officer's annual report, reviewing extensive developments in animal health and welfare in Great Britain during 2005, has been published. Topics & major areas covered in the latest report include the:
· progress towards lifting of the beef export ban
· measures put in place to deal with the threat of avian influenza
· launch of the Government's framework to control bovine TB
· introduction of the Animal Welfare Bill
Press release ~ Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer - Animal Health 2005 ~ Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Defra - BSE ~ Animal Welfare Bill ~ Defra Avian Influenza
Ofwat: Water customers are continuing to receive value for money, according to a new report published by Ofwat.
The 'Water and Sewerage Charges 2006-07 report' shows how the price limits set by the regulator in 2004 translate into charges for customers. It explains how Ofwat reviewed charging schemes for each company to ensure that charges are fair, non-discriminatory and cost-reflective.
The average daily cost for households for the water and sewerage service in 2006-07 is 81 pence per day, which is an increase of 5.5%, including inflation, on the previous year.
Press release ~ Water and Sewerage Charges 2006-07 report
DWP: Research published by the Department for Work and Pensions examines the factors which help children from poor backgrounds to escape poverty in later life. The analysis uses data from the 1970 Birth Cohort Study to study the key influences on children who were poor at age 16 who went on to escape poverty at age 30.
The main findings include:
· Educational attainment is extremely important in determining children's later likelihood of bucking the trend
· The level of parental interest in a child's education is important
· Higher early test scores are also an important factor in helping children escape from poverty
Press release ~ DWP Working Paper 31: Poverty - Bucking the trend ~ 1970 British Birth Cohort Study ~ JRF: The Persistence of Poverty Across Generations ~ Opportunity for All
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions provides descriptive analysis of the personal & household characteristics of partners of benefit claimants who are eligible for Work Focused Interviews for Partners and the New Deal for Partners. It is supported by a technical report (Working paper 30)
The findings will contribute to the overall evaluation to examine the effectiveness of the partner initiatives in reducing the number of workless households and encouraging partners of benefit claimants to enter into better & sustainable employment.
Press release ~ Research Report 335 - Work Focused Interviews for Partners and enhanced New Deal for Partners ~ Summary version ~ Working paper 30: Work Focused Interviews for Partners and enhanced New Deal for Partners: A Technical report
DWP: Research published by the Department for Work and Pensions provides data based on the views of ethnic minorities and their levels of satisfaction with Jobcentre Plus services. The research is part of the Ethnic Minority Employment Division's continuing large scale research programme.
The first report, Ethnic Minority Perceptions and Experiences of Jobcentre Plus, conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 130 Jobcentre Plus customers and staff. The interviews investigated issues such as experiences & perceptions of the New Deals, Jobsearch strategies, fairness in, and satisfaction with, the Jobcentre Plus system and race equality issues. Staff members were asked about their experiences of working with ethnic minority customers.
The second report, Jobcentre Plus Customer Satisfaction: Ethnic Minority Booster Survey, conducted research from 2,018 telephone interviews with ethnic minority customers. The responses, investigating customer satisfaction, quality of service and customer complaints, were compared with those from white respondents in the National Jobcentre Plus Customer Satisfaction Survey 2005.
Press release ~ Research Report 349: 'Ethnic Minority Perceptions and Experiences of Jobcentre Plus' ~ Summary version ~ Research Report 338: 'Jobcentre Plus Customer Satisfaction: Ethnic Minority Booster Survey' ~ Summary version ~ Ethnic Minority Employment Division
HSE: A report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that just over a fifth of British workers are concerned about work-related stress. Figures derived from the Labour Force Survey in 2004/05 indicate that around 13 million working days were lost due to work-related stress in this year. Stress along with Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) accounted for around 70% of all work-related working days lost in Great Britain.
Around 40% thought that the risk of stress in the workplace could be realistically reduced and less than a third said that their employers had taken preventative action to reduce stress levels in the workplace.
Press release ~ 'Workplace Health and Safety Survey Programme: 2005 Worker survey first findings report'
OGC: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has published findings from its review of the municipal waste market, highlighting significant challenges facing the industry in the near future.
To implement the OGC recommendations, Defra has also announced the establishment of the Waste Infrastructure Development Programme that will work with local authorities and the regions to improve strategic shaping of the market.
In addition, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has produced a report - 'More Competition, Less Waste' - assessing the impact of public procurement practices on competition in the municipal waste sector.
Press release ~ OGC government marketplace website ~ Improving Congestion and Capacity Planning in the Municipal Waste Market ~ OFT: More competition, less waste ~ Executive summary ~ Defra: Review of England’s Waste Strategy 2006 ~ Comprehensive Spending Review ~ Environmental Services Association
DCLG: A report on Active Learning for Active Citizenship (ALAC) - an initiative that aims to enable people to gain the confidence, know-how and skills to engage with public bodies and influence services – has been published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
ALAC is part of the government's 'Together We Can' action plan to involve people more in the decisions that affect their communities. Twelve government departments are participating in 'Together We Can' including DCLG (the lead department) and DfES.
The report's recommendations include the publication of a learning framework which will be a resource for those wishing to deliver ALAC programmes. This will be published in Autumn 2006.
Press release ~ Together we can ~ Active Learning for Active Citizenship evaluation report ~ Active Learning Active Citizenship 2004 ~ Civil Renewal Unit ~ New website address for DCLG
DCA: Proposals to ensure the welfare of children is at the heart of the processes involved in taking a child into care have been announced by Ministers. The review encourages early intervention to find resolutions before cases reach court, and when cases do proceed to court identifies ways to improve the quality of local authority applications.
Recommendations on how to improve the way the system works are outlined in the "Review of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and Wales". The DCA and DfES are preparing detailed plans to implement the proposals and a Ministerial Group is being set up to ensure that these recommendations are implemented.
Press release ~ Review of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and Wales ~ Children Act 1989 ~ ChildcareLink ~ Children Act 2004 ~ NSPCC ~ Fairer Deal for Legal Aid ~ Further links ~ Every Child matters
DCA: A strategy to increase the diversity of the judiciary has been announced which is intended to:
· Promote judicial service and widen the range of people eligible to apply for judicial office.
· Encourage a wider range of applicants to ensure the widest possible choice of candidates for selection.
· Promote diversity through fair and open processes for selection to judicial office solely on merit.
· Ensure that the culture & working environment for judicial office-holders encourages & supports a diverse judiciary and increases understanding of the communities served.
Press release ~ Judicial Diversity Strategy ~ Judicial Appointments Commission ~ Constitutional Reform Act 2005 ~ Judicial diversity website
Defra: The results of the first year of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which sets a cap on carbon dioxide emissions from European industries, have recently been published.
Under the scheme, installations which emit more carbon dioxide than their allocation need to buy allowances to cover the extra emissions and installations that emit less are able to sell their allowances. Nearly all designated UK companies have complied with the requirements of the scheme to report emissions and surrender an equal number of allowances.
The number of allowances issued to UK industries was 27 million tonnes less than emissions in 2005. The Electricity Supply Industry emitted 36.5 million tonnes more than its allocation and other sectors emitted 9.5 million tonnes less.
Press release ~ EU Emissions Trading Scheme ~ Results of First Year ~ National Allocation Plan ~ EU/UN Emissions Trading Registry ~ Community Independent Transaction Log (CITL) ~ FOE Press release
EU Court of Justice: According to Judgment of the Court of Justice in Case C-372/04: The Queen, on the application of Yvonne Watts v Bedford Primary Care Trust and Secretary of State for Health, under Community law, the E 112 scheme enables an application to be made for authorisation to travel abroad in order to receive treatment there.
That authorisation cannot be refused where the treatment in question is normally available in the Member State of residence but cannot be provided there in the individual case without undue delay. The health insurance fund is then required to reimburse the cost of treating the patient.
As regards the travel & accommodation costs, since the obligation on the competent institution exclusively concerns the expenditure connected with the healthcare received by the patient in the Member State of treatment, they are reimbursed only to the extent that the legislation of the Member State of residence imposes a corresponding duty on its national system where the treatment is provided in a local hospital covered by that system.
Press release ~ Full text of the judgment ~ NHS Confederation comment
Charity Commission: Last year 11 of the top 100 charities (and 25% of all charities) failed to submit their accounts & annual returns within the statutory ten-month deadline, leaving them in breach of charity law and over £6 billion of charitable funds unaccounted for. In response, the Commission has launched File Early - a practical guide to help all charities prepare their accounts on time.
While trustees promptly sign off properly-audited accounts, many then fail to send them to the Commission within deadline. Evidence suggests this may be due to a common misconception - that accounts must be signed off at an AGM before they can be filed, but this isn't the case.
Press release ~ File Early ~ Business in the Community ~ Charities Aid Foundation
Charity Commission: The first calls have been made to Charity Commission Direct - the charity regulator's co-ordinated one-stop shop for charity enquiries. All new enquiries to the Commission via any channel, whether by phone, email, post or fax, will come directly to a single point - Charity Commission Direct.
Each enquiry will be risk assessed and priority requests immediately escalated. Other features of the new service include:
· a dedicated helpline for trustee enquiries backed up by highly experienced staff
· a database of frequently asked questions providing immediate answers
· a signposting facility later in the year to give details of specialist organisations for non-Commission enquiries
· faster turnaround times for both postal and e-mail requests
Press release ~ Charity Commission Direct ~ Customer service network ~ Online Services ~ Charities Bill update
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