DWP:  A new consultation (closes 10 March 2008) aimed at helping more disabled people into work by improving the specialist employment support available to people with disabilities has been launched.
Central proposals in the consultation include developing & enhancing the role of Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentre Plus so that each individual gets support that is tailored to their needs to help them achieve their employment goals; and moving away from separate programmes of support such as the Job Introduction Scheme, Work Preparation and WORKSTEP towards a single integrated programme which provides a more personalised employment service for disabled people.
Press release ~ 'Helping people achieve their full potential: Improving Specialist Disability Employment Services' ~ Job Introduction Scheme ~ Work Preparation ~ WORKSTEP ~ Disability Employment Advisers
DfT:  Proposals to create a bus passenger champion have been published by Transport Minister, Rosie Winterton, who claimed that the new champion would ‘provide a more influential voice for bus passengers, who currently have no formal national representative’.
The consultation (closes 17 March 2008) examines whether a stand-alone bus body is the best approach, or whether the role might be given to an existing body, such as Passenger Focus.   Any new body would need to reinforce, not undermine, existing non-statutory bodies, which represent bus passengers' interests.
Press release ~ Options for strengthening bus passenger representation ~ Passenger Focus ~ Bus patronage figures by region
SGC:  A review of magistrates’ court sentencing guidelines has been published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council for consultation (closes 6 February 2008).   Since October 2003 when the last edition of guidelines was developed, there have been significant changes to the sentencing framework, including the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the development of guidelines by the Council.
The revised guidelines deal with a greater number of offences and provide more detailed advice on a range of issues such as compensation for personal injury, loss or damage suffered by victims, sentencing for road traffic offences and the range & availability of ancillary orders.
Their format has been brought into line with other guidelines issued by the Council and includes both starting points & ranges into which sentences should usually fall.  A key issue in the review has been the calculation of fines which is dealt with in some detail in the consultation guidelines.
Press release ~ Consultation guidelines and Advice: Revised Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines ~ Research report – Methods of Calculating Fines in Magistrates’ Courts ~ Sentencing Guidelines Council ~ Sentencing Advisory Panel
Defra:  Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw has published a strategy which aims to develop a package of measures to enhance sea angling in England.   Around 1m people spend about £538m p.a. fishing by the sea, underlining the sport's economic potential for coastal communities and businesses.
Drawn up with the help of anglers' groups including the National Federation of Sea Anglers, Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society and the Sea Anglers Conservation Network as well as commercial fishermen, the draft Recreational Sea Angling Strategy aims to boost the sport's numbers while helping to improve fish stocks and the marine environment. The consultation closes 31 March 2008.
Among the proposals are:
* a range of conservation measures to improve fish stocks
* a national code of conduct for anglers, and
* a new sea angling licence
Press release ~ Draft Recreational Sea Angling Strategy ~ National Federation of Sea Anglers ~ Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society ~ Sea Anglers Conservation Network
HM Treasury:  Following the Pre-Budget Report on 9 October 2007, the Treasury has now published four consultation documents:
* Income shifting: a consultation on draft legislation (closes on 28 February 2008)
* Securing a sustainable future: a consultation on the North Sea fiscal regime (close on 31 January 2008)  
* Paying a fairer share: a consultation on residence and domicile (closes on 28 February 2008)
* Principles-based approach to financial products avoidance (closes on 28 February 2008)
Press release ~ Income shifting: a consultation on draft legislation ~ Securing a sustainable future: a consultation on the North Sea fiscal regime ~ Draft legislation for measures in the proposed package of reforms ~ Paying a fairer share: a consultation on residence and domicile ~ Principles-based approach to financial products avoidance: a consultation document
DH:  Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis has launched a consultation (closes 11 March 2008) to seek views on the priorities for learning disability for the next three years.  'Valuing People Now - From Progress to Transformation' is a cross-government consultation which sets the agenda across a range of issues, including health & well-being, housing, employment, education and community inclusion – See ‘In the News’ above for more details.
Home Office:  New measures to help to protect the vulnerable from being pressurised into forced marriage are being proposed by the Home Office in a new consultation.  A separate consultation seeks views on the introduction of an English language test before entry for people applying for a spouse visa to help to encourage successful integration.  Both consultations close on 27 February 2008 – See ‘In the News’ above for more details
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