DCSF: Parents of summer-born children will get greater flexibility over choosing when they start primary school, under proposals published by Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls. Local authorities already have a legal duty to make sure all children have a place at a school at the compulsory school starting age of five.
But ministers want to ensure that every parent has the option of starting reception class from the September after they turn four, in the proposed changes to the mandatory School Admissions Code. Parents with children not ready to start school will be entitled to free full-time early learning & childcare, in maintained nursery schools & classes or in private, voluntary and independent sector provision.
The changes, published for consultation (closes on Monday 16 November 2009), will come into force in February 2010 and apply to admission arrangements from September 2011 once adopted.
Press release ~ School Admissions Code ~ Sir Jim Rose’s Primary Curriculum Review ~ Consultation: Independent Review of Primary Curriculum – recommendation 14(1) - points of entry into reception class
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is reviewing its natural mineral water, spring water and bottled drinking water guidance. It is seeking suggested amendments, clarifications & additional topics to be included in the updated guidance.
This is an opportunity to improve the existing guidance, as well as to revise it to reflect the amendment made to the 2007 legislation by the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) Regulations 2009. Suggestions received by the 18 December 2009will be considered for inclusion in the draft revised guidance, which will be consulted on in 2010.
Press release ~ Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water Regulations 2007 Guidance Note ~ Bottled water legislation seminar (16 December 2009)
WAG: Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones has been discussing the Welsh Assembly Government’s plans for a new Welsh language strategy. The strategy will guide the action that will be taken by WAG in order to promote & protect the Welsh language. It will incorporate the new opportunities that arise from the Welsh Language LCO, which will allow the National Assembly to legislate on the language for the first time.
The Welsh Language LCO is now progressing to its final stages having been laid in the Assembly on 20 October 2009, ahead of the debate on the 3 November 2009. This call for evidence will remain open until 29 January 2010
LR / PCS / FDA: Land Registry has announced a 5-year programme of reorganisation & transformation for consultation (closes on 29 January 2010) that ‘will cut its costs significantly and put it in the best possible position to deliver the services its customers demand’. The proposals announced relate to the first phase of the programme.
Having looked at a range of possibilities, it is proposing to close 5 local offices and to reduce staff numbers to ‘reflect the move to more online services’ and the impact of internal efficiency measures. It also intends to embark on a programme of outsourcing some of its support functions and to further decrease outgoings by selling surplus property.
These changes will together reduce operating costs by about £92m per year. Land Registry also plans to develop additional services which will bring in extra gross revenue estimated at £30m per year by 2014.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has condemned the Land Registry plans. Approximately 1,100 jobs are threatened by the office closures with a further 400 people working in HR, facilities & 14 regional file stores across England facing privatisation. Nearly 1 in 5 people working for the Land Registry are affected by the plans out of a total workforce of approximately 5,700 in England & Wales.
A press release from the FDA said: "The FDA believes that the intention to make experienced staff redundant and to take staff numbers below the level that management believe may ultimately be needed, is no way to treat loyal and highly professional employees and may be regarded as immoral. The FDA is not convinced that the assumption on numbers is well thought through".
LR press release ~ PCS press release ~ FDA press release ~ Land Registry ~ ATP consultation document ~ ATP business case ~ ATP Questions ~ PCS
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued a discussion paper (DP) (comments by 1 February 2010) focusing on policy measures to address the problem of systemically important ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks. The paper also examines the trade-offs involved in increasing capital & liquidity requirements and stresses the need to assess the cumulative impact of multiple reforms – See ‘In the News’ section for morte information.
MoD: The Ministry of Defence has launched the next phase of its review into the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS). Members of the public can now post their views on how the AFCS should compensate for injury, illness or death caused by service through an online mailbox or by email. Comments can be left through the MOD website and mailbox, which will remain open until 19 November 2009.
MoJ: Residents have been invited to air their views (by 30 November 2009) on a proposed new prison on the site of the former Runwell hospital, by Justice Minister Maria Eagle. Launching the Ministry of Justice's public pre-application consultation into the planned prison-building scheme, the she claimed it would create 800 new jobs & generate £17m+ in annual revenue for the local economy. The prison will be run by a private sector company.
Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, announced plans in April 2009 to open two new 1,500 place prisons - one on the site of the former Runwell Secure Psychiatric hospital in Essex and one at Beam Park West, Dagenham. Once the consultation period has finished, it is intended that the outline planning application will be submitted to Chelmsford Borough Council in January 2010. It is the intention that the prison will be fully operational by 2013.