Consultations

HMT: The Government has launched a formal consultation (closes on 14 September 2012) on a new general anti-abuse rule (GAAR) to tackle artificial & abusive tax avoidance schemes.  This follows the Budget 2012 announcement that such a rule will be introduced in 2013. .
 
It will apply to the main direct taxes – Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax & Petroleum Revenue Tax – and National Insurance, as well as SDLT, some taxes linked to Corporation Tax & Inheritance Tax.
Press release & links
 
WAG: A consultation on new measures to improve literacy & numeracy standards in Welsh schools began last week. The consultation (closes on 12 October 2012) is seeking views on the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) and National Reading and Numeracy tests, both key elements of Wales’ National Literacy Programme.
 
Following consultation, the LNF will be launched in January 2013 and will become a statutory curriculum requirement from September 2013.  Reading & numeracy tests will be introduced on a statutory basis in May 2013.
Press release & links
 
WAG: The Welsh Government's Counsel General is urging people to have their say about whether or not Wales should also be a separate legal jurisdiction. Laws made in Wales, for Wales, still form part of the law of England & Wales.  This is not the case in Scotland & Northern Ireland who have separate legal jurisdictions. 

In March, the Welsh Government launched a public debate on whether Wales should be a separate legal jurisdiction.   The closing date for responses to that consultation is Today (Tuesday) 19 June 2012..
Press release & links
 
BIS: The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has set out proposals (consultation closes on 4 September 2012) to expand its Patent Opinions Service and is seeking views from business on how to improve its Mediation Service (call for evidence closes on 24 July 2012). 
 
The Hargreaves Review identified a number of barriers facing SMEs trying to making the most of their Intellectual Property.  One of these was the cost of managing IP, in particular resolving disputes surrounding the enforcement of their own IP rights and defending themselves against allegations of infringement made by others.

The IPO’s Patent Opinions Service allows individuals or companies to request an opinion on the validity or infringement of a patent and is well used. A review of this service demonstrated a high desire from users for expansion of the service to aid resolution of further patent disputes.  
Press release & links
 
DfE: The Government published its plans to overhaul the child protection system axing hundreds of pages of instruction manuals and replacing it with short, precise guidance and checklists clearly listing roles & responsibilities. Consultation closes on Wednesday 5 September 2012..
Press release & links ~ Consultation on Revised Safeguarding Statutory Guidance
 
DfT: The Department for Transport is looking at how it can best access specialist advice on the practical issues faced by people with disabilities when travelling.  The Government’s review of Non-Departmental Public Bodies in 2010, recommended that the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) be abolished as part of wider goals to increase accountability, reduce duplication of activity and improve transparency.

However, the Department needs to ensure continued access to high quality, balanced advice on the particular issues faced by people with disabilities when travelling. This consultation (closes on 14 September 2012) outlines a number of options for securing future advice should the decision be taken to abolish DPTAC.
Press release & links
 
HMRCHM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has published a consultation (closes on 6 September 2012) document (Securing Compliance with Real Time Information – Late Filing and Late Payment Penalties) which aims to make PAYE reporting in real time as easy as possible for employers, whilst deterring those who deliberately try to avoid complying.
Press release & links ~ Securing Compliance with Real Time Information – Late Filing and ...
 
DfT: Careless drivers will be targeted under new proposals announced for consultation (closes on 5 September 2012) by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.

 The proposals would make fixed penalty notices available for careless driving and the fixed penalty will also enable the police to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement.   Drivers would still be able to appeal any decision in court.

Other proposals announced for consultation also include plans to increase the payment levels for many motoring fixed penalty offences, such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone whilst driving.  The proposals would see penalties for these offences increase from £60 to £90.
Press release & links
 
Monitor: Health Sector Regulator, Monitor, has launched an independent review of matters that ‘may be affecting the ability of current and future providers of NHS services to participate fully in improving patient care’.  Monitor is requesting initial submissions (by 6 July 2012) to provide early evidence to the review.
Press release & links
 
CLGTenants on high salaries would in future pay a fair level of rent for the privilege of living in a social home, under plans announced by Housing Minister Grant Shapps recently. The Minister argued that this ‘economic subsidy’ £3,600 a year must end, if social housing is to offer the vital support system to those in need.
 
The proposals published for consultation (closes on 12 September 2012) recently would see high-income tenants - for example those earning above £60,000 or £100,000 - potentially paying up to market rents if they want to continue living in taxpayer-subsidised housing.
Press release & links
 
DfEPlans to strengthen the law so children continue to see both parents if they separate have been put forward by ministers (consultation closes on Wednesday 5 September 2012). The Government believes that where it is safe & in the child’s best interest, the law should make it clearer that children benefit from having both parents actively involved in their lives, with both sharing responsibility in decisions about their upbringing.
 
The majority of parents who separate reach their own agreements for their children. However, Ministers are concerned that when disputes arise one of the first things that can be overlooked is ensuring children have a strong relationship with both parents. This plan was first proposed in February 2012 – as part of the Government’s response to the independent Family Justice Review Panel.
Press release & links ~ Co-operative Parenting Following Family Separation: Proposed Legislation on the Involvement of Both Parents in a Child's Life
 
HMT: The Government has published a White Paper setting out proposals to fundamentally reform the structure of banking in the UK (consultation closes on 6 September 2012) – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
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