General News

PCS:  A major pay deal which means an 11% increase for the lowest paid has been agreed for private sector IT staff on government contracts after the threat of strike action.  This rise, more than twice the rate of inflation, is part of a deal agreed by PCS after Fujitsu doubled the amount of money in the pot with an extra £500,000.

It will mean some workers who were paid just £13,500 2 years ago will now not be paid less than £15,500, an increase of almost 15%.  The union's 720 members working on contracts across the for DVLA, HM Revenue and Customs, Home Office, Ministry of Defence and Office of National Statistics, were planning a co-ordinated strike with colleagues from the Unite union on Monday 19 September.

Press release & links

SFA:  Skills Funding Agency Chief Executive, Geoff Russell has written to eligible colleges to announce that a sum of £25m is available for Renewal Grants.  The Grant will be distributed equally to all eligible colleges equating to a capital grant of £100,000 for each college, payable in November 2011.  A condition of this funding is that the college will also apply at least two thirds of the project cost from its own resources.  This follows a consultation with the Association of Colleges Capital Reference Panel.  The SFA is committed to a quick turnaround on applications, with decisions made by 24 December 2011.

Press release & links

MoD:  A new Search badge has been created to pay tribute to the brave Service personnel of the High Assurance Search Teams who search for & isolate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in .  The Search Teams & their advisors from the Royal Engineers and the Royal Logistic Corps have one of the most dangerous & demanding jobs in Afghanistan .

Press release & links

Directgov:  Tax-free children's savings accounts, known as 'Junior ISAs', will be available from 1 November 2011. The new accounts will offer parents a tax-free way to save for their children's future, but unlike the Child Trust Fund account (which has been closed to children born on or after 3 January 2011) the government will not make any payments into the new accounts.

Press release & links

FSA:  Sainsbury's has recalled some batches of its own-brand Freefrom Pure Oats, as its testing has found low levels of gluten (wheat) in some packets. This is a potential health risk for individuals who are allergic or intolerant to wheat or gluten, as the labelling doesn't list this as an ingredient. The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.

Press release & links

FSA:  Tesco is recalling certain date codes of its Free From Pure Oat Fruit Muesli and Free From Pure Porridge Oats. The product may contain low levels of gluten, which is not declared on the pack. If you are allergic or sensitive to wheat or gluten you are advised not to eat this product.

Press release & links

FSA:  A packaging error means that bags of Walkers salt and vinegar crisps (25g) within Walkers multipacks have been labelled incorrectly as containing milk lactose and dried milk. This is inconsistent with the outer packaging of the multipacks, which correctly does not include milk in the ingredients list.  Walkers has reassured allergic or intolerant customers that there are no dairy ingredients in bags of salt & vinegar crisps with ‘best before’ dates after 29 October 2011.

Press release & links

FSA:  The Co-op is recalling a certain date code of its Free From Pure Oat Muesli.  A number of packets may contain gluten, which is not declared on the pack.  If you are allergic or intolerant to wheat or gluten you are advised not to eat this product.

Press release & links

SLC:  Graduates are being reminded of 2 options available when they are coming to the end of their loan repayments.  They can either sign up to the direct debit scheme with the Student Loans Company, meaning that repayments stop at exactly the right time, or continue to repay through the tax system which may result in overpaying. 
Press release & links

HEFCE:  The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LF) and Higher Education Funding Council England have announced a £1m Innovation & Transformation Fund. The funding, which is provided jointly by the LF and HEFCE, will fund innovative projects to improve efficiency in universities & higher education colleges over the next 2 years.  It is anticipated that it might support about 20 major projects averaging £50,000 in direct funding in 2012 & 2013.

Press release & links

ScotGov:  A pilot scheme offering interest free loans for solid wall insulation will take place in Orkney & Fife.   Homeowners in Orkney will be able to access loans of up £15,000 for solid wall insulation, to be paid back over a maximum of 10 years.  The pilot will also target lower income homeowners in or close to fuel poverty by offering the loans in two areas of Fife .  The pilot scheme will launch in the autumn in Orkney and in Fife later this year.

Press release & links

CH:  Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese democracy campaigner, has been voted the winner of the Chatham House Prize 2011.  This annual award is presented to the statesperson deemed by members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year.

Press release & links

Public Sector and Non Profit Live Workshop Creating your Content Plan for 2022