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HMT:  Bill provides ‘cold food for thought’ for taxpayers, so no VAT applies this document - The Government has published the Finance Bill, which will enact tax measures announced in the recent Budget and in the March 2011 Budget.
Press release & links

CLGPlanning for a simpler future - A 'new, simplified planning framework that better supports growth and helps creates the homes & jobs that the country needs, puts unprecedented power into the hands of communities, and helps protect & enhance our natural & historic environment' was published by Planning Minister, Greg Clark recently.

The new 50 page document, which ‘replaces over 1,300 pages of inherited policy in 44 separate documents’ delivers on the Coalition Agreement's commitment to ‘publish and present to Parliament a simple and consolidated national planning framework covering all forms of development and setting out national economic, environmental and social priorities’ by April 2012.

The new Framework comes into force with immediate effect for plan-making & decisions.   Appropriate implementation arrangements agreed with the Local Government Association have been put in place for local authorities with up-to-date policies in local plans.
Press release & links ~ LGA: NPPF ~ ScotGov: Streamlining the planning system ~ CBI: Minor measures, major results – Fine-tuning the major infrastructure planning system ~ Previous WWF comment ~ Penfold Review of non-planning consents ~ PX: Planning Curses ~ Draft Technical Advice Note 20: Planning and the Welsh language ~ WAG: Independent advisory group looks at planning in Wales ~ WAG: Revision of Planning Policy Wales Chapter 7 Supporting the Economy (closed) ~ Government must make significant changes to improve draft Planning Framework say MPs ~ ESRC: Empowered citizens or hopeful bystanders? ~ Planning Portal ~ CPRE: Planning help ~ Directgov: Planning permission ~ RTPI: Planning Aid England

Eu news:    Germany (40%) & France (14%) would get bigger rebates than the UK, who would be a net €22.9bn worse off - If adopted as a new own resource of the EU budget the financial transaction tax will significantly reduce the contributions of member states to the EU budget.  According to estimates presented recently by the European Commission, Member States' contributions would be slashed by €54bn in 2020.
The Commission proposes that two thirds of the FTT go to the EU budget, reducing by the same amounts Member States' contributions, with the remaining one third being retained by Member States.
The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Financial & Economic Affairs say in its report that the FTT proposed by the EC is 'flawed and will fail to fulfil the Commission's own objectives'.   A proposal that would have such a disproportionate impact on the UK above all other Member States makes the Commission's proposals particularly unacceptable.

Even if the FTT was only adopted by a small group of Member States, there would still be huge implications for the UK, not least because transactions between UK financial institutions and those within the jurisdiction of the FTT would still be liable for the tax.
EUN press release & links ~ PC&PE press release & links ~ EU Financial Transaction Tax would wipe out derivatives markets and cost UK £25.5bn ~ EU News:  Musical Ghost of Emperor Nero lives on in EU

CLG:  An end to Bank Holiday weekend invasions? - Local Government Minister, Bob Neill, recently published a streamlined planning policythat will ensure fair treatment of travellers in the planning system while respecting the interests of the settled community’Condensing the previous 54 pages of traveller site guidance into just 8 pages, the new policy puts the provision of sites back into the hands of local councils, in consultation with local communities.

The new policy forms part of a broader package, including changes to planning law to limit retrospective planning applications for any form of unauthorised development and the provision of incentives for new & refurbished traveller sites, which will deliver a better balance between site provision and enforcement.

The Government has also been looking at the inequalities faced by traveller groups and will shortly be publishing a report from the Ministerial Working Group.
Press release ~ Planning policy for traveller sites ~ Directgov: Gypsies & travellers ~ Communities of practice: Gypsy & Traveller Knowledge Network ~ Stunell: New site funding offers fairer deal for travellers and the settled community ~ WAG: ‘Travelling to a Better Future'- A Gypsy & Traveller Framework for Action & Delivery Plan
CLG: The same law for all (4th item)

TKF:  Dropping dead from a sudden heart attack looks increasingly appealing as a ‘good’ end to life - Two reports published recently by The King’s Fund highlight how frail older people are being exposed to unacceptable standards of care and moved around from pillar to post in hospital because of a lack of continuity of care:
* The first report draws attention to breakdowns in continuity of care inside hospitals
* The Fund has also published the conclusions of a 2-day summit which specifically addresses how to improve care for frail older people with complex needs, making 5 key recommendations.
Press release & links ~ NPC:  Devising a code is easy, getting staff agreement is not difficult, achieving 100% compliance is the tough bit

NAO:  What does this imply for the HS2 cost/benefit analysis? - The National Audit Office has published a report on the construction & sale of the high speed railway line linking the Channel Tunnel with central London

The High Speed 1 project has delivered a high performing line, which was subsequently sold in a well-managed way, which removed the taxpayer’s open-ended support for the project.  However, international passenger numbers are falling far short of original forecasts and the project costs exceed the value of journey time saving benefits.
Press release ~ The completion and sale of High Speed 1 ~ DfT:  Would an independent Scotland pay all the costs to extend HS2 beyond Leeds & Manchester?

ECWho's eligible for privileged catering arrangements? - Commenting on the rules around companies making donations, Tony Stafford, Head of Policy on party & election finance at the Electoral Commission said: “The law states that companies can donate to political parties if they are: registered at Companies House; incorporated in a Member State of the EU; and are carrying on business in the UK”.
Press release & links

DECC:  Greed or legitimate safety & employment concerns? - Following a ballot by the union Unite, fuel tanker drivers have voted to undertake strike action.  The Government has condemned this potentially disruptive action and urged both sides to negotiate a settlement to avoid strike action. Regular updates & the latest information will be published on Directgov website.
Press release & links ~ Unite puts their case ~ Unite rules out Easter tanker strikes to focus on talks

DfE:  Is it any wonder so many children that leave school at 16 are un-employable? - Trainee teachers currently have to pass skills tests in basic literacy & numeracy, but around 20% fail first time round.  They only take the tests after starting their training course and are allowed unlimited re-sits. The tests are to now to be reviewed.
Press release & links

EU NewsGreek tragedy will play for some time to come - Top representatives of the Greek ‘Troika’ stoutly defended the focus of the Greek bailout programme last week and insisted that Greece must raise its game on economic reforms, political unity and tackling vested interests, or risk failure.  MEPs advocated a socially fairer & more growth-oriented programme and asked about contingency plans.
Press release & links

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