Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: Housing Minister John Healey has announced that 270 stalled development projects across the country have been shortlisted for a share of £925m which could help get building work on 22,400 homes back on track & create 20,000 jobs. Over 8,600 of these homes would be for affordable rent or sale, with two=thirds built to a standard above that required by building regulations helping to cut CO2 emissions and reduce energy bills.
The projects have been identified by the Homes and Communities Agency through the Kickstart programme. The Government expects almost half the money to be repaid within 5 years while over one third will go to housing associations & others to help them manage the affordable housing. 18% consists of direct grant to support developers.
DH: NHS organisations will receive a total of £25m to create 5,000 new NHS apprenticeships by March 2010.
New NHS Apprenticeships will include clinical support roles such as dental nurses & pharmacy support workers and non-clinical roles such as IT support, estates & facilities management and catering. There are currently 1,500 apprentices in the NHS.
ScotGov: An additional 170 early years apprenticeships are to be created across Scotland, giving young people access to childcare careers. On a visit to Cherrytrees Nursery in Melrose, Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop heard about the benefits of investing in early years skills development when she met with young people taking part in modern apprenticeship programmes, as well as Get Ready for Work and Skillseekers initiatives.
Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will contract for an additional 170 early years apprenticeships in 2009/10, which will be funded by the £16m announced in the Scottish Budget for the recruitment of 7,800 new apprentices.
Early years apprenticeships are at SVQ levels 3 & 4 and are available for young people aged 16 to 19 years old. These apprenticeships typically last between 9 months and 2 years.
Press release ~ 'Adopt an Apprentice' scheme (see video link) ~ ScotAction fund ~ Early Years Framework ~ Modern apprenticeship programmes ~ Skillseekers initiatives ~ Skills Development Scotland (SDS) ~
ScotGov - More Choices, More Chances ~ Youthbuild ~ Swamp Glasgow ~ Careers Scotland - Get Ready for Work
DH: Corner shops nationwide will get help from Change4Life to sell fruit & veg – this will mean more people will get their 5-a-day and shops will see an increase in profits. Following a successful pilot in the north east, corner shops across the country can now join Change4Life and work with the local NHS to promote healthier eating in their communities.
The shops will have a fruit & veg makeover, stocking a wide range of fruit & veg, displaying Change4Life posters & signs and appointing a member of staff to champion fresh fruit & veg in store. The trial run of the saw sales of fresh fruit & veg increased on average by 40%, with around a third of shoppers saying they will buy more fruit & veg from their local store in future.
The expansion of the programme across England is now possible thanks to a new Change4Life partnership with the Association for Convenience Stores, an organisation which represents more than 28,000 retailers & suppliers in England, including well known franchises such as NISA Local, SPAR and Landmark.
WAG: Health Minister Edwina Hart has announced the allocation of £4m Assembly Government funding for hospices & palliative care services across Wales. £2.1m of it will help fund the clinical palliative and end-of-life care services provided by 18 hospices throughout Wales and £1.9m will be spent on NHS palliative care services.
The allocations for independent and NHS care services are based on recommendations of an expert group headed by Baroness Ilora Finlay, a consultant in palliative care. Part of the funding will be dedicated to the expansion of the Cancer Network Information System Cymru, a computerised clinical record to enable health professionals quick access key information to monitor and care for patients.
DWP: The government has launched a new campaign - 'Backing Young Britain' – uniting business and government to ‘create thousands of opportunities for young people’. Launching the campaign Ministers announced £40m to fund over 20,000 additional internships, so that graduates & non graduates can get higher quality work experience, as well as a new mentoring network to ‘help young people find their feet in a tough jobs market’.
Ministers also announced the first 47,000 youth jobs supported by the Future Jobs Fund for young people who are unable to find work or training within a year. The campaign kicked off as the Government launched its Graduate Talent Pool website which goes live with 2,000+ internships available to graduates.
Press release ~ Future Jobs Fund ~ Backing Young Britain ~ Local Employment Partnership ~ Graduate Talent Pool ~ Directgov: Graduate careers and postgraduate study ~ September Guarantee for school leavers ~ Directgov - What's next?
ScotGov: A Rural Gathering is set to take place in Perth on 25 September 2009, bringing people together to drive forward a 'bright future' for rural Scotland. It forms part of the Scottish Government's plans to empower rural communities, helping them to shape their own destiny and to remain vibrant & sustainable places.
The national event will be followed by around 20 local events a year to be run by the regional co-ordination service. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has been awarded the contract to run this service.
The Scottish National Rural Network is one of four UK networks which helps connect rural Scotland and promote sustainable, economic growth & community development. ScotGov’s Community Empowerment Action Plan was launched in March 2009 and is intended to encourage people in both rural & urban areas to participate in the running of their neighbourhoods.
Press release ~ Scottish National Rural Network ~ Community Empowerment Action Plan ~ Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
Cabinet Office: Minister for the Cabinet Office Tessa Jowell has been appointed as the new Chair of the Public Services Forum (PSF), which encourages employers, government & trades unions to work together to deliver world class public services for everyone.
Recently the forum published a report on what has been achieved in its first five years, claiminh it has made a ‘real impact’ on the whole of the public service workforce of nearly 6m people. It also looks ahead to the challenges facing the public sector in the coming months and years.
Press release ~ Public Services Forum (PSF): The First Five Years ~ PSF ~ Workforce matters ~ Code of Practice on Workforce Matters ~ Drive for Change programme
ScotGov: Nearly 325 new rural homes are set to be built across Scotland, thanks to government funding for affordable house building. In addition, land owners & community groups will share £5m (under the Rural Homes to Rent pilot) to build 75 new affordable homes - exclusively for renting - in villages & communities across Scotland.
ScotGov: The way people use & conserve energy in the home is set to be revolutionised in Scotland with the offer of free energy audits, advice on becoming more energy efficient and free or discounted loft & cavity insulations.
Up to 96,000 homes across Scotland are to be offered help with making their homes more energy efficient in ten council areas, who will be the first to benefit from a home insulation scheme over the next year. The scheme will use £15m of Scottish Government funding which will help create & sustain up to 900 jobs including employment opportunities for energy advisors and insulation installers.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill states that Scottish Ministers will ensure emissions are reduced by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Making Scotland's homes better insulated will be key to achieving this objective.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has published a new discussion paper - a strand of the National Conversation - which sets out options for a Scottish oil fund which would invest a share of present oil revenues to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
It claims that, adjusted for inflation, £230bn of tax revenue has come directly from Scottish waters over the past 30 years. The paper presents a range of models on how annual or one-off investments could provide a sustainable income to support the economy and seeks views on the best model for Scotland.
Press release ~ An Oil Fund for Scotland: Taking forward our National Conversation ~ A National Conversation ~ Fiscal Autonomy in Scotland: The case for change and options for reform ~
Secret plan to deprive independent Scotland of North Sea oil fields
DH: The future use of Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs) in the NHS will be fairer and on the same terms as other providers of NHS services, Health Minister, Mike O’Brien has claimed. Under the changes each contract will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and new services will be commissioned by the local Primary Care Trust where they are designed to meet local needs, provide value for money and benefit patients in that community.
Services will be delivered under the terms & conditions of the standard NHS national contract for acute hospital services – the same contract used by NHS providers. Where the NHS identifies an ongoing need for services, there will be a competitive tendering process and bidders, including those from the independent sector, will be invited to deliver services at NHS tariff prices.
The changes will take effect in the second wave of ISTC contracts, the first of which will be advertised in August 2009. The first wave of contracts are due to end from 2010. Both independent sector and NHS providers will be eligible to bid for the new contracts, which will be commissioned locally by the NHS, rather than by the DH.
WAG: Leading academic Professor Ian Hargreaves, who is currently based at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is to lead a review into the creative industries in Wales. This appointment has been made in response to the call by the National Assembly’s Communities and Culture committee in their report on Public Service Broadcasting for an independent review of WAG’s activities in the field of creative industries.
The review will include a broad exercise of market sizing, the market opportunity for Wales for all segments of the creative industries sector, consideration of the WAG’s internal & external linkages, skills and a review of the IP fund.
The Assembly Government also welcomes the announcement that the BBC is considering establishing a ‘drama village’ in Wales and relocating Casualty to South Wales. A major production centre such as this would help to develop a sustainable production base in Wales.
Press release ~ Communication and Content - The Media Challenge for Wales ~ Carriage options for a TV Service in Wales ~ Ofcom’s Review of Public Service Broadcasting: Welsh Assembly Government Response ~ Broadcasting Sub-committee ~ WAG - Media and publishing ~ WAG - Broadcasting ~ WAG - Publishing
DCSF: Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan has launched a new strategy outlining how Government will work with the third sector to improve the life chances of children, young people and their families at a visit to the Barking and Dagenham Foyer.
The foyer was opened in December 2008 and caters for young people aged 16-25 offering a range of services in one place, including accommodation with support for 116 residents, an information advice & guidance centre, life skills and employability training & healthy living programmes.
Building on the strategy & action plan published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007, the new publication - Third sector strategy and action plan: Intentions into action - was produced in partnership with the DCSF’s Third Sector Group.
Press release ~ Third sector strategy and action plan: Intentions into action (scroll down) ~ Barking and Dagenham Foyer ~ DCSF’s Third Sector Group ~ Third Sector National Learning Alliance
BIS: The Government has launched a new scheme to compensate former Icelandic-water trawlermen who lost their livelihoods following the Cod Wars of the 1970s. All trawlermen who fished in Icelandic waters during the Cod Wars will be able to claim for additional payments. They will have 9 months to submit claims, with the first payments expected in the autumn 2009.
The ‘breaks rule’ in the previous scheme that ran from 2000 to 2002 was found to be unfair by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Following a review, the Government decided to run a new scheme based on aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters, rather than continuous service, as before.
Under the new scheme, the Government will calculate payments for each trawlerman on the basis of his aggregate service on vessels that fished in Icelandic waters, in the last 20 years of his fishing career. Where this calculation produces a higher payment than that already made under the previous schemes, the Government will pay the difference. The Government will not of course be claiming payments back where the reverse is the case.