General News

HEFSE: Universities & colleges stand to benefit from a new programme of services & investment to deliver efficiencies through shared services in cloud computing infrastructure & applications. The £12.5m programme is part of a suite of activities under the University Modernisation Fund (UMF), a Higher Education Funding Council England fund that aims to help universities and colleges deliver better efficiency and value for money through the development of shared services.
Press release ~ HEFCE
CRC: The Commission for Rural Communities was set up to promote awareness of rural needs amongst decision makers across & beyond Government.  In June 2010, the Secretary of State announced that the CRC was to be abolished and that Defra’s internal rural policy capacity was to be expanded to create a Rural Communities Policy Unit (RCPU)
From 1 April 2011, the CRC’s statutory functions of Advice, Advocacy & Watchdog will be carried out by the Commissioners supported by a very small flexible team.  A streamlined CRC will carry out a significantly slimmed down work programme to complement the RCPU’s business plan.  The streamlined CRC will have a new website by 1 April 2011 – – in readiness for the new ways of working. The current CRC website is now being archived to maintain availability to the work & evidence base.
Press release
IfL: The Institute for Learning (IfL) has announced changes to its membership funding arrangements, as part of its transition to being a fully self-financed professional body.  All teachers & trainers in the further education & skills sector will be asked to pay their own subscription fees from 1 April 2011.  The standard fee will be £68p.a. for Members, Affiliates & Associates and £95p.a. year for Fellows.  
Press release ~
LSIS: Conversations with further education & skills providers lead to the setting up of a new Learning and Skills Improvement Services regional response fund. With a deadline for applications of 25 February 2011, the fund will support immediate improvement needs in the further education & skills sector brought about as a result of changes to funding mechanisms & allocations.
LSIS recognises the need for support and is looking for bids that will enable providers in an English region, to deal collectively with operational, funding and planning challenges set by new government agendas.
Press release
HL: A letter to PM David Cameron has warned of ‘increased flows into homelessness’ if many local councils continue their current trend of financial decisions. 

The letter, written by Jenny Edwards, CE of Homeless Link, predicts a loss of ‘as much as 20% of the voluntary sector’s provision for vulnerable homeless people’, rising in some parts of the country to ‘30% or 40% or more’. In it, Ms Edwards identifies a major contributing factor as being the removal of the ring fence on Supporting People funding.
Press release ~ Jenny Edwards' letter to David Cameron ~ Letter from Homeless Link, Shelter and Crisis to Baroness Eaton of LGA
PCS: The Maritime & Coastguard Agency has been challenged by the PCS union to prove its plans to cut coastguard stations would not put lives at risk. The union has called on agency bosses to run a live test of its proposed centralised control system before its consultation about closing 10 of the UK’s 19 stations ends on 24 March 2011.
The MCA announced the closure plans in December, saying centres in Solent and Aberdeen would be expanded.  The union, which represents 750 staff in the agency, has serious concerns about the loss of local knowledge and says ensuring proper emergency cover for our coastlines is vital.
Press release ~ Parliamentary motion opposing the planned cuts ~ Consultation on Modernisation of Coastguard Services ~ Read PCS's alternative to the cuts
HO: The National Identity Register (NIR), which was built to hold the fingerprints & personal details of millions of ID card holders, has been publicly destroyed. Home Office Minister Damian Green visited an industrial site in Essex to shred the last of 500 hard disk drives and end the National Identity Scheme.
Press release
NA: The National Archives has digitised 10,000 unique images of Africa and published them on Flickr.  The collection spans more than 100 years of African history, from as early as the 1860s, including images of people, places, national & imperial events, conflict and natural disasters.
The images were transferred to NA from the Colonial Office Library's photographic collection and offer a unique insight into life in the colonies.  Approximately a third of the entire collection has been digitised so far.
Press release ~ 'Africa through a lens' collection
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has received information confirming that less than half of the substance of a recalled batch of Mas-River Fried Dace is a processed fishery product.  This means the product does not need to come from an approved establishment, as stated in the original Food Alert for Action.  Tins with a ‘best before’ date of 30 April 2013are still recalled because they contain high levels of histamine.
The Agency has issued a Food Alert for Action that updates the Food Alert for Action issued on 2 February 2011 and the Product Recall Information Notice issued on 19 January 2011.  The alerts, recall information notice & images of the product can be found via the links below.
Press release ~ Oriental Merchant (Europe) Ltd recalls Mas-River Fried Dace with Salted Black Beans due to non approved identification mark ~ Oriental Merchant (Europe) Ltd recalls one batch of Mas-River Fried Dace with Salted Black Beans due to high levels of histamine ~ Product Photos: Mas-River Fried Dace Salted Black Bean 48x184gr ~ Update on recall of Mas-River Fried Dace with Salted Black Beans by Oriental Merchant (Europe) Ltd 
BIS: Business & Enterprise Minister, Mark Prisk, has published details of how Regional Development Agency (RDA) assets & liabilities will be sold & transferred over the coming months.  RDAs have developed detailed assets & liabilities plans setting out strategic options that will aim to achieve the best outcome for the local area whilst creating value for the public purse. RDAs submitted these plans to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on 31 January 2011.
The RDAs plans are now being reviewed by the Government and agreed by the National RDA Transition Board.  It is expected that these plans will be implemented from April 2011.
Press release
EU Exit Week