WAG: A growing demand for quality local produce is a golden opportunity for the farming & food industry which must be seized Rural Affair Minister Elin Jones said when launching a consultation (closes on 8 September 2008) on the long-term future of the farming & food industry in Wales.
Achieving a more profitable future for farming and the food industry, dealing with the effects of climate change; and encouraging innovation are among the aims of the consultation, Farming, Food and Countryside – Building a Secure Future.
Press release ~ Farming, Food and Countryside – Building a Secure Future ~ Really Welsh Trading Company ~ WAF – Farming and Scheme Information ~ Managing Farms with IT ~ Farming Connect
OFT: The OFT has launched a market study into property management services for common & shared residential property in Scotland. Residents in tenements and other collective residential properties in Scotland use property managers, known as factors, to manage common and shared property - for example roofs, staircases, entrances and gardens.
The study (which will report back by the end of the year) will consider issues such as how much choice & information is available to homeowners, how property managers are selected, the quality & costs of the services provided, how homeowners can effectively manage services and whether homeowners have access to redress when things go wrong. Comments to be submitted by 5 September 2008.
Press release ~ OFT: Scottish property managers
MoD: The increasing sophistication of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) used by UK Armed Forces means that the current airspace above Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire is now insufficient to accommodate the full training requirement.  The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is therefore undertaking public consultation (closes 29 September 2008) on proposals to extend the existing segregated airspace to include an additional area to the south of the Salisbury Plain Training Area.
Following initial discussion with various organisations, the public consultation period will last until late September, and will include drop-in sessions at Salisbury Guildhall on 22 July and 30 August from 2pm to 6pm.  Its aim is to seek comment & feedback on the proposals from interested parties.
Press release ~ Consultation ~  MoD - Watchkeeper ~ 32 Regt. Royal Artillery ~ Reaper: The eye in the Afghan sky ~ TUAV team profile
QCA: All schools and colleges in England are being invited to participate in the annual QCA/UCAS survey on 14-19 curriculum development and reform (closes on Friday 11 July).  This year's survey is designed to:
* seek comments from centres about how the reform programme may affect them and their students
* establish a ‘baseline' for evaluating forthcoming & future developments
* assess the level of collaborative provision in 14-19 education
* gain feedback on the Diploma
Different versions of the survey are available for different types of centre to reduce the chance of centres being asked to complete sections that are not relevant to them.  If you have any queries about the survey, please contact Tamsin Lord in the Policy Unit at UCAS on 01242 544 813 email:
Press release ~ UCAS survey website
DIUS: John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills has published a consultation (closes on 10 September 2008) into how a new proposed right to request training would work, saying that he expected around 300,000 people a year to receive skills training who otherwise would not. 
It is planned that the new entitlement will apply to all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks.  The legislation could be in place by 2010, subject to its passage through Parliament. 
Press release ~ Time to Train consultation ~ UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) ~ Train to Gain ~ Lifelong Learning UK ~ DIUS – Further education ~ Learning and Skills Council (LSC) ~ White paper - Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ Get set for life website ~ Apprenticeships review report ~ Command paper 'Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britain's Talent' ~ Unlocking Talent leaflet ~ Leitch Review ~ LSC: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives, Our statement of Priorities ~ Skills Investing in the first steps ~ Connexions services ~ Entry to Employment programmes ~ Care to Learn scheme
MoJ: Views on fairer ways to pay barristers through the Family Graduated Fee Scheme (FGFS) bringing it more in line with payment to solicitors for similar work are being sought in a consultation (closes 10 September 2008). There are three options for consideration:
* Reduce all fees paid under the scheme
* Abolish or reduce some of the uplifts which multiply the fees claimed by barristers to reflect different issues in a case or
* Abolish or reduce some of the additional payments claimed by barristers for certain types of preparation
The proposed changes are an interim measure in advance of a consultation later this year on a single family advocacy scheme for both solicitors and barristers to be introduced in 2010.
Press release ~ 'Reforming the Legal Aid Family Barrister Fee Scheme' ~ Family Graduated Fee Scheme (FGFS) ~ Legal aid policy
DfT: Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has invited passengers, businesses and environment groups to provide evidence (by 25 July 2008) to the Department for Transport to consider as part of its review into the economic regulation of airports.
Press release ~ Call for evidence ~ Written statement to Parliament by Ruth Kelly regarding the Economic Regulation of Airports ~ Review minisite
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is consulting (closes 9 September 2008)on its new approach to tackling alcohol misuse with the aim of changing Scotland's relationship with drink. Key proposals in the consultation document include:
* Raising the minimum age for off-sales alcohol purchases to 21
* Setting a minimum price at which a unit of alcohol can be sold
* Ending 'three for the price of two' type promotions, which encourage impulse buying of extra alcohol
* A 'social responsibility fee' for some alcohol retailers to help pay for the consequences of alcohol misuse

 Following the consultation, the Scottish Government envisages legislating in time for many of the measures to coincide with the new Licensing Act coming into force on 1 September 2009.
Press release ~ Changing Scotland's relationship with alcohol: a discussion paper on our strategic approach ~ ScotGov - Alcohol ~ Approaches to Alcohol and Drugs in Scotland: A Question of Architecture ~ A Question of Architecture: Executive Summary ~ 12 Dimensions of a Manageable Problem ~ Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drugs Action Teams ~ Alcohol Focus Scotland ~ InfoScotland - Alcohol ~ Scotland’s alcohol culture ~ Cost to Society of Alcohol Misuse in Scotland: An Update to Alcohol Misuse in Scotland Trends and Costs (Scottish Executive, October 2001) ~ Health Scotland - Alcohol
MonitorMonitor, the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts, is seeking views (by Tuesday 9 September 2008) on the rules that NHS foundation trusts should follow in relation to the legal ‘cap’ on the income they may earn from charges for services to patients. 
The legislation establishing NHS foundation trusts makes specific provision to limit the proportion of income an NHS foundation trust can earn from charges for services to patients – the Private Patient Income Cap. The approach that Monitor has taken to the application of the private patient income cap to date has been set out in the NHS Foundation Trust Financial Reporting Manual (FReM).
Press release ~ Consultation document ~ NHS Foundation Trust Financial Reporting Manual (FReM)
DH: Health Minister Ivan Lewis outlined proposals to improve the quality of dementia care and provide more help for people with dementia, as he launched a consultation (closes on 11 September 2008)on a National Dementia Strategy. The full Strategy, to be launched in the October 2008, will have three main aims:
* to increase awareness of dementia & remove the stigma associated with it
* ensure early diagnosis & intervention
* improve the quality of care that people with dementia receive
Press release ~ Transforming the quality of dementia care: consultation on a National Dementia Strategy ~ Details of consultation events ~ DH – Older people ~ National Dementia Strategy ~ National Health Specialist Library ~ Worried about your memory campaign ~ Alzheimer's Society ~ Dignity in Care campaign ~ Health and Social Care Bill
Ofwat: Water companies would face targets to help customers save more than 23m litres of water a day (Ml/d), under proposals (consultation closes 12 September 2008) published by Ofwat, to run initially for five years from 2010-2015.  Companies will be expected to deliver real savings by providing household and business customers with information on how to use water sensibly, and promoting the use of water saving devices.
The targets would help companies to play their part in achieving the Government's goal of reducing individual water usage to 130 litres per person per day from its current level of around 150 litres.  If the proposed targets remain in place until 2030 Ofwat expect them to contribute at least half of the required savings.
Press release ~ Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) ~ Future Water Efficiency Targets: A consultation ~ Water Saving Group
HMRC:  HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has launched a consultation on its proposals for a new taxpayers' charter, alongside two further consultation documents on modernising tax administration (closing date 11 September 2008):
The charter consultation sets out ideas for the scope & shape of a taxpayers' charter, which will articulate, in plain language, the rights & obligations of customers when dealing with HMRC.  Responses received will help form the basis of a draft charter, which will be the subject of further consultation later this year.
The second consultation explores why taxpayers fail to file their tax returns, or pay the tax they owe, on time, and how HMRC can help them to meet their obligations.  It also discusses an aligned approach to penalties across the different taxes - to encourage timely filing & payment - alongside the appropriate taxpayer safeguards.
The third consultation considers the case for harmonising & simplifying the rules on interest charged by HMRC both on tax paid late and on\interest paid by HMRC on overpayments.  It considers the principles that might underpin a modern interest regime that is clear, simple & easy for taxpayers and their advisors to understand.
Press release ~ A new Charter for HMRC and its customers ~ Short version ~ Meeting the obligations to file returns and pay tax on time ~ Impact Assessment ~ Interest - Working Towards a Harmonised Regime ~ Impact Assessment

Ofwat: Ofwat has launched a consultation (closes 17 July 2008) into the regulatory issues arising from the change of ownership of Yorkshire Water. In February 2008, Saltaire Water Limited completed the acquisition of Kelda Group Plc, the parent company of Yorkshire Water Services Limited. 
Ofwat invites views on the issues discussed in its consultation paper, including:
* the capacity of Saltaire Water and its investors to own a regulated water company
* which entities should provide the necessary regulatory undertakings to Yorkshire Water, and
* the need for modifications to Yorkshire Water's Appointment conditions to ensure that it has sufficient financial & managerial resources to carry out its functions as a water & sewerage company and that it is properly ring-fenced from the rest of the group
Press release ~ Yorkshire Water Services Limited ~ Consultation
LDLand Data (formerly C-NLIS), has announced the commencement of a period of consultation (closes on 30 September 2008) regarding the future of the NLIS Channel Licences. The three current NLIS Licenced Channels, which provide access to property search information from all Local Authorities in England and Wales, HM Land Registry and the Coal Authority, are Searchflow, TM Property and Jordans Limited.
The existing NLIS Channel Agreements expire in 2009 and Land Data is keen to elicit feedback on the current model, and also to receive suggestions for possible future improvements, prior to reaching a decision in relation to the future of the NLIS Channels later this year.
Press release ~ Land Data ~ Searchflow ~ TM Property ~ Jordans Limited
Join our Social Media Academy