The ‘Long March to Freedom’ begins
Parliament gets down to starting the ‘real’ voting:
Researched Links:

DExEU:  Opening statement on Second Reading of EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

DExEU:  Closing statement on Second Reading of EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

DExEU:  A 'new, positive and constructive' partnership with the EU

DExEU:  Exiting the EU: Ministerial statement 2 February 2017

ONS:  What do we know about British people living in the EU?

NIESR's Director of Macroeconomics comments on the Brexit White Paper

WAG:  FM welcomes the PM to Cardiff for Brexit talks

WAG White Paper

CBI: Business on the Brexit White Paper

techUK: Brexit Still Means Uncertainty for UK Tech

ScotGov:  Scottish Parliament to vote on UK Government's Article 50 Bill

Tripwire Confidence Secured Meeting the Challenge of GPG13 Compliance:
Latest Brief on Achieving NCSC Requirements

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC, formerly CESG), the Information Security arm of Government Communication Head Quarters (GCHQ), and the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance documented 35 Good Practice Guides to help public sector organisations within the UK manage risk.

GPG number 13 describes the require­ments for good practice and a set of IT controls for the security of Information Technology systems. Specifically, GPG13 describes 12 Protective Monitoring Controls (PMC) which is comprised of tasks such as event log management and use of intrusion detec­tion and prevention systems. Public sector local authorities are required to conform to GPG13 in order to prevent accidental or malicious data loss.

However, Achieving GPG13 compliance is challenging—especially for organisations managing competing priorities, limited budgets, and small IT security teams.

Simply click here to download this latest GPG13 Compliance brief and find out how your organisation can shorten the timeframe and minimise resource in order to achieve full GPG13 compliance

4 News items relating to ‘Access for the Disabled’

The Department for Education has recently published a new report which provides best practice guidance to help universities, colleges & independent higher education providers support their disabled students.

Secondly, Greater Manchester and London are to receive new powers to help thousands more disabled people get into work.  The 2 cities will receive around £100m to develop, procure & deliver localised versions of the new Work & Health Programme to fit the needs of their residents. In the last 3 years, the number of disabled people in work has increased by almost 600,000. 

Thirdly, Work to improve disabled access to toilets on trains and at stations is underway following talks between Rail Minister Paul Maynard and senior rail industry representatives.

Lastly, the EHRC Chair David Isaac comments on the Premier League’s interim report on disabled access at football grounds.

Researched Links:

DfE:  New report offers guidance to support disabled students

DWP:  Greater Manchester and London handed new disability powers

DWP:  Work to improve disabled access to toilets on trains and at stations is underway

EHRC:  Premier League disabled access report: the time for excuses is over

There is nothing ‘Glorious’ about a game one cannot see or participate in

But what about the digitally excluded?

Sports clubs not addressing accessibility needs should face legal action

Inquiry into housing for disabled people

Appointment of the Chair of the Disability Confident Business Leaders Group

Accessible travel gets funding boost

Transforming the lives of disabled people

NHS England supporting new trials to help disabled people and those with long term conditions into work

Scotland’s first Accessible Travel Framework unveiled

Announcement of taskforce to look at improving accessibility of apprenticeships for people with learning disabilities

Government inaction is failing disabled people

EHRC welcomes MPs’ call for Government to help disabled election candidates

TUC publish guide to help end discrimination against disabled workers with invisible impairments

TUC calls for practical action to implement disability equality in new manifesto

The Poor don’t pay (much), the Rich avoid paying (a lot) and the Middle-earners get ‘clobbered’!

A Public Accounts Committee report says that the Government must be tougher & clearer in its approach to taxing the very wealthy.  In their report, the Committee sets out measures to enable HMRC to improve tax collection and "give the public greater confidence that there is not one set of rules for the rich and another for everyone else".

It urges HMRC to be more transparent about its work, seek new powers where required and do more to tackle those involved in tax avoidance & evasion.  The Committee questions HMRC's strategy for dealing with the very wealthy, which suggests "they get help with their tax affairs that is not available to other taxpayers".  HMRC collected £1bn less from very wealthy since establishing their specialist unit.

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Government must take tougher stance on taxing the very wealthy

Problem is, money can ‘infect’ one with ‘greed’

HMRC Annual Report & Accounts 2015-16

Financial Secretary: "a tax system that works for individuals & businesses alike is steady, measured and consultative"

IFS:  Use new Budget as a springboard for wider tax policy reform

Beating the tax cheats – HMRC’s criminal case highlights of 2016

New Year brings in new penalties for enablers of offshore tax evasion

Looking back one can see that tax collection (in some cases) is just like trying to carry live eels

‘Sir’ needs to get more involved

Head teachers need to take an active part in ensuring that their school offers a great computing curriculum - according to BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.  To help achieve this, a specially developed tool kit is being sent to all secondary schools in England this week to support school leaders in implementing a high quality computing curriculum for all their students.

Produced by BCS and Computing At School (CAS) with support from a Microsoft YouthSpark grant, the tool kit includes practical advice, guidance, case studies & action plans to assist teachers and their senior leadership teams.
Researched Links:

BCS:  Computing Curriculum Tool Kit Launched for School Leaders

BCS:  Computing At School launches new resources to develop computing subject knowledge

Much more than one step ahead of the class now

New term means digital skills on par with reading 7 maths in Welsh curriculum

Computing At School celebrates launch of 200th CAS Hub

Computer science teachers invited for “Phish ‘N’ Chips” at CAS Conference

techUK Calls for National Digital Skills Map to stop the UK Falling Behind

SME Supplier Locator update...

UK Government and public sector spend with SME’s is continually on the increase and by 2020, it is the stated intent of Cabinet Office that £1 of every £3 spent on government contracts goes to SME’s. The past 5 years have seen government make a priority of getting money through its supply chain into the hands of SMEs, by both setting targets and introducing new procurement mechanisms.

Against this backdrop, the WiredGov Supplier Locator service has been developed specifically to embrace the SME Agenda and provide the ideal platform for SME’s to promote their services, solutions, accreditation and success stories directly to our ever increasing audience across all government and public sector verticals and Tier 1 suppliers.

Click here to find out more and view this week’s new arrivals to the SME Supplier Locator service. 

Ban ‘Ambulance Chasers’!

The government intends to impose a new, fixed cap on all clinical negligence cases up to £25,000 to prevent rising litigation costs within the NHS.  There are numerous examples of lawyers who profit from the NHS by charging more than 80 times the amount awarded to the victims in minor claims.

In one case, lawyers claimed £83,000 in legal costs for a case in which the patient was awarded £1,000.  These costs contributed to a total bill for the NHS of £1.5bn in financial year 2015 to 2016.  Currently, there is no limit on legal costs that can be recouped and the money claimed by lawyers takes vital funds away from NHS trusts. It is expected the new cap will help the NHS save up to £45m a year.
Researched Links:

DH:  Plans for fixed cap on legal costs for medical negligence cases

Patients Association - New Independent Patient Safety Investigation body 'will operate without fear or favour'

Halving avoidable harm and saving up to 6,000 lives

No Evidence that Health & Social Care Services are Safer for Patients than a Decade Ago

An ‘old issue’ that has never ‘gone away’
A new report has made a series of recommendations for homelessness services, anti-slavery organisations, local authorities, the government & police to improve the multi-agency response to modern slavery.
Researched Links:

Homeless Link:  Protecting victims of modern slavery – how does your service measure up?

Slavery is not something that ended 250 years ago

Slavery will always exist as long as one person can control another by ‘force’

Adults need to walk/run a mile a day too!
Primary schools across Wales are being encouraged to take part in The Daily Mile – an easy, fun way to improve children’s health & wellbeing.  The initiative sees primary school children run, walk or jog for 15 minutes every day. It is inclusive, simple and free, with no equipment or set up required.
Researched Links:

WAG:  Primary schools encouraged to make ‘Daily Mile’ a runaway success

BBC:  Stirling school kids run or walk a mile a day to keep fit

Make children exercise at school?

Is this lack of ‘parental control’ child-abuse?

More cover if bankers get greedy again!
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit is now £85,000. It’s up £10,000 after an increase by the regulator earlier this month.  And the limit for joint accounts moves to £170,000.

FSCS:  New £85,000 deposit limit from today

One can be lonely at any age!
Age UK is taking part in a government initiative to increase the public’s awareness of loneliness, in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox.
Researched Links:

Age UK joins Jo Cox Commission to raise awareness of loneliness

Keep moving to ‘have a life’

It’s difficult to be ‘Merry’ on your own

Elements of care should not be provided in isolation

10DS:  Time to Talk Day 2017 - PM's message

In memory of one of our greatest ‘wartime heroes’

Thousands of gay & bisexual men convicted of now abolished sexual offences have been posthumously pardoned.  The historic moment comes after the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent – enshrining, in law, pardons for those convicted of consensual same-sex relationships.

The new law, made possible following government intervention, will also see statutory pardons granted to the living. However, this will only apply in cases where offenders have successfully applied through the Home Office’s disregard process to have historic convictions removed.
Researched Links:

MoJ:  Thousands officially pardoned under 'Turing's Law'

A fitting memorial to a great man

But one might be wise to check before booking!
Foreign Office statement on what the Presidential executive order on inbound migration to US means to British nationals and dual nationals.

FCO:  Presidential executive order on inbound migration to US

Why couldn’t we have had this CJEU ruling years ago!
An application for asylum can be rejected if the asylum seeker has participated in the activities of a terrorist network.  It is not necessary that the asylum seeker personally committed terrorist acts, or instigated such acts, or participated in their commission.

CJEU: Rejection as asylum seeker for participation in the activities of a terrorist network

Editorial Commentary: Some ‘points to ponder’ for the SNP as they consider calling for a second Independence Referendum:

First; Have recent polls shown a majority of Scots want another referendum and would vote for Independence?

NoBut interestingly it appears if the SNP did wait ‘For a Lifetime’ before calling for another Referendum they might get the result they desire!

Herald/BMG Poll: Majority of Scots against a 2017 Independence vote ...

Secondly;  Scotland’s total international & rest of the UK exports in 2015 (excluding oil & gas) were estimated at £78.6bn:

  • Exports to the rest of the UK accounted for 63% of this total
  • EU exports accounted for 16%
  • Non-EU exports accounted for 21%

Why would they want to leave their biggest (internal) market?

ScotGov:  (Scotland’s Exports Increase ~ 'Norway-style' deal would erect hard border between Scotland & UK

Thirdly;  Members of the Scottish Parliament will have a vote on the UK Government’s Bill to trigger Article 50 on Tuesday 7 FebruaryScotGov believes that given the fundamental change to their constitutional arrangements involved by triggering formal withdrawal from the EU, and the direct effects on the devolved responsibilities, the Scottish Parliament should be invited to give its view before the Bill is passed, and that the UK Government should respect the views of the Parliament.

If the UK government held a national referendum as to whether Scotland (in response to ScotGov holding one) should become independent (and the majority said ‘No’) would ScotGov ‘respect the views of the (UK) Parliament & voters’?

ScotGov:  Scottish Parliament to vote on UK Government's Article 50 Bill ~ What's a Sewel Convention and why did it feature in the Brexit court ~ Brexit: Ministers 'not legally compelled' to consult AMs - BBC News

Fourthly; The ScotGov is determined to retain the Green Investment Bank’s Edinburgh headquarters and the jobs of the 55 highly-skilled people employed there. 

Do they realise at least 91% of it would be moved to rUK before ‘Independence Day’?

ScotGov:  Green Investment Bank (reply)

Lastly;  ScotGov is inviting views from the public on the future of unconventional oil & gas in Scotland.  This includes hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and coal bed methane extraction.  The consultation Talking “fracking” will run until 31 May 2017.

Despite the SNP’s strenuous past announcements on the ‘evils of fracking’, permitting it could turn out to be the only way they might (at least partially) ‘balance the books’ of an independent Scotland as the North Sea oil & gas revenues no longer can.

ScotGov:  Unconventional oil and gas consultation launched ~ To Frack or not to Frack (that was the promise) ~ Fracking 'could generate £3.9bn for the Scottish economy' ~ 7 questions about fracking in Scotland - University of Strathclyde ~ Scottish Fracking Consultation Launched - WWF Scotland comment ~ Unconventional oil & gas research published ~ Scottish Government Welcomes Independent Report into Unconventional Oil & Gas

 More contributions following EU Referendum

Still a ‘hot topic’, with widely spread views, for those who put fingers to keyboard in order to ‘share their views’:

Researched Links:

DExEU:  Opening statement on Second Reading of EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

DExEU:  Closing statement on Second Reading of EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

DExEU:  A 'new, positive and constructive' partnership with the EU

DExEU:  Exiting the EU: Ministerial statement 2 February 2017

ONS:  What do we know about British people living in the EU?

WAG:  FM welcomes the PM to Cardiff for Brexit talks

white paper

WAG:  Lesley Griffiths to hear views on Securing Wales’ future

ScotGov:  Scotland in Europe

ScotGov:  EU vital to NHS and social care services

ScotGov:  Green Investment Bank (reply)

ScotGov:  Brexit threat to human rights

ScotGov:  Scottish Parliament to vote on UK Government's Article 50 Bill

ICO International Strategy

The EC launches public consultation on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy

techUK: Brexit Still Means Uncertainty for UK Tech

FDA:  Suspending open & fair competition in recruiting civil servants for Brexit is 'a worrying development'

CBI: Free trade key to moving global economy into new gear

CBI: Business on the Brexit White Paper

NIESR's Director of Macroeconomics comments on the Brexit White Paper

IFG:  Whitehall Monitor 2017 - Government doing too much as it prepares for Brexit


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

What would I do if I worked in local government in the US?, asked UK local government worker Joanne Fry last week. What do her colleagues and counterparts over there make of the situation in which they now find themselves? Fry suggests it is US local government which could curb Trump's worst excesses - dissent over the US president’s more extreme proposals, including mass deportation of immigrants, is already coming from state governments and cities.
"As a UK local government worker, I for one am encouraged to see that US local government is already leading the way in ensuring the rights and freedoms of their citizens. I wish them the best of luck over the next four years," she writes.
Meanwhile, we are keen to hear from people who work for the UK Border Agency to contribute (anonymously if preferred) to our Public Servant: My Letter to the Public series. If you would like to contribute please get in touch atkirstie.brewer@theguardian.com

Also on the network
My beautiful commute. Your journeys to work - in pictures

My beautiful commute. Your journeys to work - in pictures
To bring some cheer to a chilly commute, we asked readers via Guardian Witness to share pictures of their journeys to work. Here are some of our favourites

Do MPs really want to limit the painstaking detective work of police?

Do MPs really want to limit the painstaking detective work of police?
The policing and crime bill will put justice under threat because it will impose unrealistic time frames on our vital investigations

News in brief
Civil service recruitment rules eased to help plug Brexit skills gaps
• Devolve power to London as a blueprint for other major UK cities – report
• MoD told it must find extra £6bn in savings from equipment plan
Sir Ivan Rogers: "inundated" Whitehall must not take eye off the ball in Brussels
• Defra on the hunt for new chief digital officer
• Six Dorset councils back merger plan