DCSF: Helping children to speak up – Education Secretary, Ed Balls, has announced that The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children will receive £340,000 to provide schools across the country with information, advice and training materials on how best to support children and young people who stammer. The training materials will be developed & piloted between 2008 and 2010, with all schools hoping to receive material and information by the end of 2010.
It is estimated that around 5% of children experience some difficulty with their fluency at some time during the development of their speech & language. Stammering has a major impact on children's academic and social lives - children with a stammer are more likely to become withdrawn or anxious and can become the focus of bullying.
The Centre, a world leader in this field, will use a 2 stage programme to provide schools across the country with information, advice and training materials on how best to support children and young people who stammer:
Foundation Level - where participants would gain basic information to recognise stammering & straightforward strategies to help children and young people communicate more effectively in their educational environment
Specialist Level - where participants would gain detailed information about the nature of stammering, its social & educational impact and practical guidance on appraising its severity and the reasonable adjustments that could support a child or young person with a stammer.
DH: A vision of a healthier future - A Government funded trial to treat inherited blindness by administering gene therapy to the human retina has proved successful, researchers have announced. The trial at the Moorfields Eye Hospital/UCL Institute of Ophthalmology National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre has shown that the sight of a patient with Leber's congenital amaurosis (LCA), a type of inherited retinal degeneration, which causes progressive deterioration in vision and blindness in teenagers, has made a major improvement.
This is the first major outcome from the 12 Biomedical Research Centres which were set up by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in April 2007. These centres work in major areas of ill-health and clinical need to speed up the translation of fundamental science into benefits for patients.
CC: Why is it that no one believes them? - The Competition Commission (CC) has published its final report in its inquiry into UK groceries retailing, including measures to improve competition in local areas and to address its concerns about relationships between retailers and their suppliers.
The measures include:
* a recommendation for the inclusion of a 'competition test' in planning decisions on larger grocery stores
* action to prevent land agreements which can restrict entry by competitors
* the creation of a new strengthened & extended Groceries Supply Code of Practice and
* a recommendation to establish an independent Ombudsman to oversee & enforce the Code
In its final report, the CC has concluded that, whilst UK grocery retailers are, in many respects, delivering a good deal for consumers, action is needed to improve competition in local markets and to address relationships between retailers and their suppliers. Competing with large retailers is difficult but their evidence does not show that independent retailers or the wholesalers that supply them are in terminal decline.
BERR: Bidding for their fair share - Buyers will be able to attract more potential bidders with the start of a free trial, which is intended to draw thousands more small businesses to www.supply2.gov.uk, the national lower-value contracts website. The trial ends on 31 July 2008 and applies to new registrations only.
The website claims to have over 75,000 registered small businesses looking for lower-value public sector contracts typically worth under £100,000. Registration for public sector buyers is free. Buyers with an existing procurement website can link their service directly to the website.
The March 2008 Enterprise Strategy featured a range of measures to boost the percentage of Britain's 4.5m small businesses competing for public procurement, including looking at the practicality of setting a goal for them to win 30% of public sector business within five years.
The Strategy also included an announcement that the rules for government procurement will be changed to allow companies, particularly small firms, to use invoice financing to compete for public contracts.
HM Treasury: Rebuilding after the Terror - Sir David Varney has published his Review of the Competitiveness of Northern Ireland, which follows on from the conclusions of his Review of Tax Policy in Northern Ireland published in December 2007.
Sir David's review identifies a number of core strengths that make Northern Ireland a good place to do business and attractive to a wide range of investors. These strengths include a young population, an excellent education system, macroeconomic stability, strong transport links with the rest of the UK, Ireland & Europe and ambitious plans for further infrastructure investment.
DH: Power to the patient - Health Minister Ivan Lewis has announced the introduction of 7 Common Core Principles to Support Self Care, designed to help health & social care staff support people to live independently, stay healthy and make the most of their lives by managing their conditions.
The Principles, which have been developed with Skills for Health and Skills for Care, aim to help health and social care services enable people to have better control over & responsibility for their own health and well-being, working in partnership with health and social care professionals. They are aimed at, but not limited to, staff supporting individuals living with a long term condition or with complex needs.
HMRC: Have you filed yet? - HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is urging employers to file their PAYE end-of-year returns by the 19 May deadline, or they could face a penalty. Employers with fewer than 50 employees - who can file either on paper or online - are being encouraged to file their returns electronically. Not only is it quicker and easier, but they will get £100 tax-free for doing so. Employers with 50 or more employees must file their 2007-08 return online.
If you're an employer and you want to start filing online, you must first register with HMRC's online PAYE service. It can take a week to get the activation PIN after you've registered, so it's important to register as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can ask an agent or payroll bureau to file your return.
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