General News

DIUS: A new suite of English language qualifications has been launched by the government ESOL for Work qualifications ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages, which will hopefully make it easier for employers and migrant workers to get the functional English language skills they need.
The new qualifications are shorter & more work-focused than traditional ESOL qualifications, giving learners practical English skills in essential workplace matters, such as health & safety and customer service.  As well as better accuracy, efficiency & effectiveness, the new qualifications will help employers benefit from improved communication and productivity.
ESOL for Work ensures that employers and workers who need English skills quickly are able to access tailored provision and bypass the waiting lists that may exist on free ESOL courses. The cost of the new ESOL for Work courses will continue to be funded by Government, but a contribution of approximately £330 will be required from employers, who directly benefit from the provision.
Press release ~ Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) ~ Learning and Skills Council (LSC) ~ Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) ~ NATECLA (the National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults)
LDA: New plans for the regeneration of Crystal Palace Park have been announced by the London Development Agency (LDA).  Developed by the LDA, Design for London and award winning architects Latz & Partner, the masterplan will see the park hopefully return to being one of the most spectacular green spaces in Europe.
Blueprints include; a tree top walkway, an aquarium, tropical glasshouses and a tree canopy mimicking the silhouette of the old Palace. In addition the concert bowl will be renovated, along with the reconstruction of the former cricket pitch (and a new pavilion), sunken gardens along the terraces, and the restoration of one of the famous Paxton fountains.
The amount of park land accessible to the public will increase by up to 39 acres - returning to parkland areas that previously housed buildings or the caravan park.
Press release ~ London Development Agency ~ Design for London ~ CPCA - Crystal Palace Community Association ~ Crystal Palace Foundation ~ Crystal Palace Park
HM Treasury: The Economic Secretary, Kitty Ussher, has announced that the Government will allow people who, during the recent financial market disruption withdrew cash from Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) held at Northern Rock (and in the process lost their tax advantages) to re-deposit that money into a cash ISA with Northern Rock or any other provider, restoring their tax advantages.
Savers wishing to restore their lost cash ISA tax advantage must by 5 April 2008either:
* return their funds to a Northern Rock ISA, or
* obtain from Northern Rock a certificate for the amount of cash ISA savings withdrawn between 13 - 19 September, and present this to a new cash ISA provider when depositing the money
Press release ~ HMRC: Individual Savings Account (ISAs) and Personal Equity Plans (PEPs)
ScotGov: Changes to Scotland’s NHS Pension Scheme will be implemented from April 2008, it has been announced. The scheme is designed to be affordable & sustainable, as well as fairer for employers, scheme members and taxpayers.  It will deliver savings of around £0.5bn over the next 50 years.
Existing staff, and those joining the NHS Pension Scheme up to 31 March 2008, will keep their normal pension age of 60.  Major changes include the introduction of a new scheme for new staff with a normal pension age of 65.  The minimum age for drawing a reduced pension will also increase from 50 to 55 for new entrants.
Press release ~ Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) ~ SPPA: Pension Reforms - NHS
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