DIUS: A pre-announcement on the Leitch Implementation Plan - The government has launched yet another educational campaign - Our future. It's in our hands - urging people to take control of their future by investing in skills. The government claims that research shows that 53% of adults in England believe they could achieve more out of life and, of these, 60% think improving their skills through training & education is the best way to do so.

A dedicated phone line 0800 011 30 30 and website is intended to help ensure that people have easy access to relevant information about how to get better skills through different training opportunities available for young people, adults and employers.

Our Future. It's in our hands forms part of the broader Leitch Implementation Plan ‘World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England which will be unveiled later in July.

The campaign is driven by statistics which indicate that the number of jobs in low-skilled occupations will continue to fall rapidly and that 2004 figures showed that there were 6.8m adults in the UK without a Level 2 qualification and with serious skills needs in numeracy, literacy and IT.

The LSC has instigated a wide range of programmes to help employers and learners with their skills needs, including: Train to Gain, the National Skills Academy network, Adult Learning Grants, Education Maintenance Allowance and Apprenticeships.

While Jacqui Henderson, of UK Skills, commented:

"Skills are the key to us being successful as individuals and as a nation. I look forward to seeing our commitment to skills being successfully demonstrated to the world when London hosts the WorldSkills competition in 2011."
Press release ~ In Our Hands ~ Learning & Skills Council (LSC) ~ Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) ~ Leitch Review ~ UK Skills - WorldSkills competition 2011 ~ Ufi ~ Train to Gain ~ The National Skills Academy ~ Grants and bursaries for adult learners: Directgov ~ Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) ~ Apprenticeships ~ Framework for Excellence: Raising Standards and Informing Choice ~ National Improvement Strategy for FE ~ New Measures of Success – Priorities for Development ~ Lifelong Learning UK ~ Further Education White Paper 'Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances' ~ Army basic skills provision: whole organisation approach, lessons learnt

NAO: Good idea still failing the hurdle of implementation - Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs), used to assess the need for, and potential impact of, new regulations, have not always been used effectively, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.

The report finds that RIAs:
* often failed to consider fully the cost & benefit of regulation
* did not take account of the long term implications of regulation
* particularly for issues of compliance & enforcement

In its fourth evaluation of RIAs, the National Audit Office found fewer cases of poor quality analysis, but also continued weaknesses in the quality of cost benefit analysis and insufficient consideration of the impact of the proposed regulatory changes.

Impact assessments are designed to provide a strong evidence base to support the process of policy making, but the NAO found RIAs have not been an integral part of the process as in many cases they are being used once a policy decision has been taken.

The report also highlights the changes made to the guidance on impact assessment released by the Better Regulation Executive in April 2007. The NAO encourages departments to use the introduction of the new guidance as an opportunity to improve how impact assessments are used and to develop training & guidance material to support policy makers.

This report is the first of two major NAO reports on the progress of regulatory reform within Government. In the coming weeks, the NAO will be publishing a report on reducing administrative burdens.
Press release ~ Evaluation of Regulatory Impact Assessments 2006-07 ~ Executive Summary ~ Impact Assessment ~ Guidance for the new Impact Assessment ~ Government's response to the consultation on RIAs ~ Better Regulation Executive – Reviewing Regulation ~ Better Regulation Commission ~ The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act ~ Regulation - Less is More. Reducing Burdens, Improving Outcomes ~ Hampton Review ~ Implementing Hampton: from enforcement to compliance ~ National enforcement priorities for local authority regulatory services (3Mb) ~ BRC: Risk, Responsibility and Regulation: Whose risk is it anyway

HM Treasury: Two year mortgages are but a moment in the lifetime of a housing debt - Following the Prime Minister's statement about the need to take further steps to improve the way that the mortgage markets works, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a number of new initiatives to ensure that lenders have the best access to capital market finance and consumers are able to take the most informed choices when buying a mortgage, including:

* new legislative proposals for a covered bond regime in the UK
* a Treasury led review to identify any further barriers to lenders wanting to raise funds in wholesale markets
* Government backing for a Private Members Bill, which will increase the proportion of funds which may be raised in wholesale markets, giving building societies more flexibility in financing their mortgages

Further details of these proposals will also be set out in the Government's housing Green Paper due to be published shortly.

The Chancellor will also consult on creating a new regime for covered bonds which will help mortgage lenders finance more affordable 20 to 25 year fixed rate mortgages.
Press release ~ Debt Management Office ~ Debt Test ~ Shelter: Options when facing mortgage debt ~ Mortgages made clear : FSA Money made clear ~ FSA: Quality of advice processes ~ How flexible tenure can prevent mortgage repossessions ~ JRF Response to the ODPM Consultation Paper - Homebuy: Expanding the Opportunity to Own ~ Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) ~ 169: Evaluation of the low cost home ownership programme - DCLG ~ Other DCLG research documents ~ Housing Corporation's Affordable Housing programme ~ Open Market HomeBuy Guide ~ Social HomeBuy ~ Protection racket: CAB evidence on the cost and effectiveness of payment protection insurance

DCFS: Foundation for a new Gold standard or just Gilt? - The government claims that the new Secondary Curriculum will free up around a quarter of the school day to enable teachers to give more help to pupils struggling to master the basics in English & Maths and raise standards higher across the board.

The new curriculum is intended to ‘cut clutter, reduce duplication and enable schools to do much more with the traditional school day to prepare pupils for the demands of today's world’.

As well as an even sharper focus on literacy and numeracy and retaining established subject knowledge, the new curriculum is claimed to place greater emphasis on equipping young people with the personal, learning and thinking skills they need to succeed in employment and adult life.

The new curriculum follows the first major review of the curriculum since 2000 which was launched for consultation by the QCA in February. It will come into force from September 2008.
Press release ~ New secondary curriculum ~ Teachernet ~ QCA ~ 'Curricululm for the 21st century' ~ Secondary curriculum review statutory consultation - draft summary of findings ~ 14 – 19 Gateway website ~ White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All ~ Diversity and Citizenship Curriculum report ~ Languages Review and report ~ Towards consensus? Citizenship in secondary schools

Defra: So what did they learn from Carlisle in 2005? - A review to look at how the recent floods were managed & responded to by the Environment Agency, local authorities, the emergency services and others, has been announced by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

The Lessons Learned review, to be carried out by the Cabinet Office with support from Defra and Communities and Local Government, will seek views from those involved in the floods, ranging from residents affected by them, to local councillors to members of the emergency services.

The review will look at flood risk management, the emergency response and the transfer to recovery. A further separate review will be carried out at a later stage to consider lessons learned from the recovery phase.
Press release ~ Hilary Benn's statement ~ Defra – Flood management ~ Directgov - Flooding ~ Regional Flood Defence Committee's - National Flood Forum ~ Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) ~ Environment Agency - Flood risk management ~ Flooding in Scotland ~ Repair and restoration of buildings following floods ~ Multi Agency debrief for Carlisle Floods ~ Presentation on Cumbria floods ~ UK Resilience - Emergencies - Severe Weather, Flooding, Drought

Industry News
: Compliance is mainly a question of Best Practice – Things are stirring on the Data Protection front, as Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner (IC), not only ‘flexes his muscles’, but also seeks a source of ‘steroids’ from Parliament to boost his powers.

It’s nearly a decade since the current Data Protection Act received its Royal Assent and rumour has it that the IC wants the power to audit organisations without their permission and is lobbying for the creation of a two year jail sentence for people deliberately abusing personal data.

He said recently: “Over the last year we have seen far too many careless and inexcusable breaches of people’s personal information. The roll call of banks, retailers, government departments, public bodies and other organisations which have admitted serious security lapses is frankly horrifying …………….

Organisations that fail to process personal information in line with the Principles of the Data Protection Act not only risk enforcement action by the ICO, they also risk losing the trust of their customers”.

The problem for most organisations though is that, without realising it, we have evolved from limited data application systems, where senior management specify fixed data fields, to freeform systems that require exponential growth in storage & processing capacity, as users are allowed to develop their own uses for the equipment / software.

Email is THE classic example of such a freeform system, the use of which has evolved with minimal organisational control or, in many cases, staff training in Best Practice. Yet it can be used to commit an organisation to expenditure or a course of action that has not been approved, or whose risks have not been fully assessed.

It can also be used nefariously. Crucial, sensitive or confidential information can be cut & pasted into an email and sent to an external party both easily & quickly. Personal & highly sensitive information can be attached to an email and sent half-way round the world in an instant.

With individual employees creating more & more emails every day, storage is an ever growing problem complicated by the issue of establishing a retention / deletion policy that satisfies the requirements of various bits of legislation.

This is not an issue that can just be left to your IT Manager, so the question for senior management is therefore not just ‘What do we do?, but more of ‘Where do we start?’ and the answer is ‘Why not benefit from someone else’s experience?’

ZANTAZ have commissioned a White Paper - EMAIL: A Best Practice Approach to Compliance and Information Managementthat provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject, covering the issues involved and highlighting the legislation covering this area.

Full details ~ Request White Paper ~ Data Protection Act (1998) ~ 1995 EU Data Protection Directive ~ Freedom of Information Act 2000 ~ Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 ~ Environmental Information Regulations 2004 ~ Information Commissioners Office ~ Chief Executives of 11 banks ~ New ICO strategy ~ ICO 2006 – 07 Annual Report ~ Human Rights Act

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