General News

TfL: Transport for London is increasing the penalty fare for non-payment on its services to £50 from 11 January 2009.  Under new plans, TfL will also introduce an early payment incentive which will reduce the £50 penalty fare to £25 if it is paid within 21 days.  This is an increase from the current level of £20 on the Buses, Tubes, DLR and London Overground. 
The increases do not relate to the Tram penalty fare which is currently £30.  In order to bring that into line with the new penalty fare by January 2009, a limited consultation is planned to take place later this month.
Press release ~ TfL – penalty fares
STFC: Three young researchers are starting exciting new fellowships in UK Universities as part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Aurora Fellowships scheme. Now in its third year, the scheme is dedicated to enhancing the UK’s capabilities & cross-disciplinary approach to planetology and astrobiology to enable the UK to fully exploit the European Space Agency’s Aurora programme and the continuing science programme.
The primary objective of Aurora is a long-term European plan for robotic & human exploration of the Solar System initially targeting the Moon and Mars.  The second objective is the development of technologies for future planetary missions.  The next round of recruitment for Aurora Fellows will close on 14 January 2009.
Press release ~ STFC - Aurora ~ Recruitment for next round of Aurora Fellows ~ European Space Agency’s Aurora programme ~ ExoMars
PCS: Responding to the loss of Ministry of Defence (MoD) data, the PCS has warned that EDS was on the verge of chaos as it sought to cut jobs and urged the MoD to review its outsourced Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) contract with EDS.
The news of the data loss comes two days after Hewlett Packard (HP) and the newly merged EDS, announced that they would cut its UK workforce by 3,378 posts over the next two years. That announcement led the union to warn that the delivery of public services could be affected due to the job cuts.
Press release ~ PCS ~ Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) contract ~ NAO report ~ Channel 4 report
ESRC: One thing that all western nations have in common is ever evolving societies.  In order to understand the impact of such changes on our communities, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is launching Understanding Society, the world’s largest ever household longitudinal study, which will provide valuable new evidence to inform research on the vital issues facing our communities.

As a longitudinal study, the initial funding will carry the study though to 2012, however it is envisaged that the project will continue for decades to come.  It will collect information from 100,000 individuals, across 40,000 households from across the country, from Lands End to the Highlands & Islands of Scotland.  It will assist with the understanding of the long term effects of social & economic change and will provide tools to study the impact of policy interventions on the well being of the UK population.

The large sample size will give a unique opportunity to explore issues for which other longitudinal surveys are too small to support effective research.  It will permit analysis of small subgroups, such as teenage parents or disabled people.
Press release ~ Understanding Society ~ National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) ~ British Household Panel Survey ~ ESRC Society Today
PCS: PCS supports the Say 'no' to Violence against Women campaign.  Help the campaign reach 1 million names by 25 November - the day all names will be handed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a broad based call for governments to take action to end violence against women and girls.
What you can do: Ask 3 people to visit the say 'no' to violence against women website and add their names
Press release ~ PCS
PCS: Monday 13 October saw the start of a work to rule at the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) which could double the time it takes for prospective teachers, nurses, social workers and foster parents to obtain clearance to work with children.  These checks currently take less than 4 weeks, but could take more than eight weeks as a result of the action.
Up to 450 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) at the Liverpool based CRB are protesting at the government capping public sector pay rises at around 2%, while inflation is running at 5%+. 
Press release ~ Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)

DCMS: All care home residents will get help with the switch to digital TV following changes to the Switchover Help Scheme announced by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham. The scheme has been set up by the Government and the BBC to deliver practical help to those older & disabled people who are likely to have the most difficulty in making the switch to digital.
The next place to switch to digital is the Scottish Borders on 6 November 2008 and arrangements are already in place to contact all care homes in this area.  DCMS is working with the Scottish Executive to make sure all care home residents are able to take advantage of the help available to them.  DCMS has also begun a procurement process to select an organisation to collect personal data from all UK care homes for use in future switchovers.
Press release ~ Switchover Help Scheme ~ DigitalUK ~ The BBC’s preparedness for digital switchover ~ Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information) Act ~ Help the Aged ~ Television Licences (Disclosure of Information) Act 2000  ~ DCMS – Digital TV
STFC: Astronomers using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii are set to make major new discoveries about the origins of the planets, stars and galaxies with the start of a new survey to map the Universe.
The JCMT Legacy Survey, made up of 7 projects, makes use of two sophisticated new instruments - SCUBA-2 and HARP – which will allow the astronomers to detect & probe clouds of cold dust associated with the mysterious earliest phases of the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.  Projects already underway include the Nearby Galaxies Legacy Survey, the Gould Belt Survey and the Spectral Legacy Survey.
Press release ~ James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) ~ STFC’s UK Astronomy and Technology Centre ~ SCUBA-2 ~ HARP ~ Nearby Galaxies Legacy Survey ~ Gould Belt Survey ~ Spectral Legacy Survey
ESRC: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is building upon its commitment to support research & training essential to the international competitiveness of UK business with a new £6m investment.  The Capacity Building Clusters in Business Research and Engagment are designed to develop closer dialogue & collaboration between social science and the business sector through skilled people committed to the co-production of knowledge and its application to the business sector.

Four Capacity Building Clusters in Business Research and Engagement have been created under this initiative totalling a £6m investment.  The Clusters take as their focus one or more of the priorities set out in the ESRC Business Engagement Strategy and have a five year grant including a portfolio of training & knowledge exchange activities (including: CASE awards, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Business Placements and a Business Voucher Scheme):
* Creative Industries in Scotland: Capitalising on Creativity led by Professor Barbara Townley at the University of St. Andrews - £1,494,491
* Exeter Cluster in Sport, Leisure and Tourism led by Dr Tim Coles at the University of Exeter - £1,491,780
* Engaging Research for Business Transformation (EREBUS) (Energy, Financial Services, Health Technologies) led by Professor MA West at the University of Aston - £1,494,850
* ESRC Retail Industry Business Engagement Network (RIBEN) led by Professor Neil Wrigley at the University of Southampton - £1,454,650
Press release ~ ESRC: Capacity Building Clusters in Business Research and Engagement ~ Leitch Review ~ Sainsbury Review ~ Innovation Nation White paper ~ ESRC Society Today
TfL: Friday 17 October 2008 saw a convoy of more than 100 licensed London taxis taking 200 sick & terminally ill children on a three-day trip of a lifetime to Disneyland Paris.  The fifteenth Children’s Magical Taxi Tour is an annual event organised by the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers.
The convoy, which reached 3 miles long, included Metropolitan Police escorts, London Ambulance NHS Trust vehicles and AA breakdown trucks. To date 1,500 taxis have taken almost 3,000 children to Disneyland.  Some of the drivers have been coming every year since 1994 - that's 9,000 unpaid miles of driving.
Press release ~ Children’s Magical Taxi Tour ~ Make a donation ~ Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers ~ Transport for London’s Public Carriage Office (PCO)
SESport England (SE) is changing the way it distributes around £45m a year of National Lottery funding after a public consultation showed widespread support for their proposals. The responses will help SE to develop the detail of the 4 new funding streams outlined in the consultation. SE will be publishing full details of the application processes and award eligibility criteria for these new programmes at the start of 2009.  The new programmes will be in place by 1 April 2009.
As SE moves to the new funding programmes, it will be closing the Community Investment Fund (CIF), which was launched in 2004 and is administered by SE’s nine regions.  SE will continue to accept CIF applications up to and including 6 January 2009, subject to the availability of funds in each region.
Press release ~ Nine regions ~ Funds in each region
DH: The Department of Health has gone out to tender to find an independent operator for its new scheme to provide a seal of approval ensuring health and social care information is reliable, that will assure people the information they use when making choices about their health and care comes from a reliable source.  The scheme will have a broad impact, allowing the quality mark to feature on information in any format - from websites to pamphlets.
Working with United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), the successful supplier will deliver a robust and credible scheme. Organisations wishing to express an interest in this procurement should register with the DH supplier e-tendering portal where a Contract Notice and Pre-Qualification Questionnaire are available. Expressions of interest should be sent no later than noon on 17 November 2008 - The scheme will be launched in Summer 2009.
Press release ~ DH - An information accreditation scheme ~ United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) ~ DH – Supplier Registration ~ Tender document
PCS: PCS is asking people to join the emergency protest to show the strength of pro-choice opinion ahead of the final abortion votes in Parliament - Tuesday 21 October, 5.30pm onwards, Old Palace Yard, outside Parliament, St Stephen's entrance.
Press release ~ PCS ~ Abortion Rights campaign
STFC: A team of scientists, led by the Californiainstitute of Technology (Caltech), in collaboration with DurhamUniversityand CardiffUniversity, have used a technique, originally predicted by Einstein, to show how a young, distant galaxy might evolve to become a present-day system like our Milky Way.  The full paper on this research, part funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), was published in the scientific publication Nature, on 9 October 2008.
This study provides a glimpse of what astronomers will be able to see in the distant Universe once projects such as the proposed European Extremely Large Telescope, led by ESO - the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, come into use.
Press release ~ European Extremely Large Telescope ~ ESO - the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere ~ Nature article and images ~ Institute of Computational Cosmology ~ Durham University ~ Caltech ~ Science & Technology Facilities Council ~ Royal Astronomical Society ~ Royal Society ~ British National Space Centre
Socitm: Members of the Society of IT Management (Socitm) have voted to replace all existing 5 categories of membership with two new categories, Member and Senior Member.  From Jan 2009 membership fees for Senior Members will be set at the same level as current Full Members with the fee for Members set at 70% of the fee for Senior Members.
The vote marks the first step in a new vision for the Society that embraces an ambition to widen its scope of recruitment to include not just local government, police & fire, but other parts of the public sector: housing associations, the NHS, central government & other non-departmental public bodies (quangos) and third sector organisations, from large charities down to small voluntary organisations
Press release ~ Membership of Socitm
Becoming a Digital Pioneer: Cloud transformation in the public sector