Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Households across all of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities are to benefit from a freeze in their Council Tax payments for the sixth year in a row Finance Secretary John Swinney announced recently.
ScotGov: Scotland has become one of the world’s first Fair Trade Nations, International Development Minister Humza Yousaf announced last week. The news comes on the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight 2013 and follows a nationwide campaign led by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum that has seen the people of Scotland rally behind Fair Trade principles.
CLG: A new fund will deliver the infrastructure that Enterprise Zones need to become economic engine rooms & drive growth across the country. The government is inviting Enterprise Zones to apply for £59m worth of investment to help ‘turn shovel ready sites into job ready sites’ by completing key infrastructure projects.
This fund will ‘help zones with real growth potential to put in place the infrastructure required to unlock sites so businesses can set up’. This could mean links to local road networks or reconfiguring site layouts; upgrading or installing utilities like electricity and water; or reclaiming contaminated land.
ScotGov: A nationwide debate got underway last week to ensure Scotland becomes a world class digital nation by 2020. ‘Scotland’s Digital Dialogue’ will see a series of workshops, demonstrations, conferences and debates take place from now until the end of May, led by the Scottish Government in partnership with prominent digital experts, universities & business leaders.
A World Class 2020 Research Report published last week has helped to shape the ScotGov’s vision for how Scotland will use digital technology in the future and how it can make the most of a world class digital infrastructure by 2020.
Press release ~ Digital Scotland 2020: Achieving World-Class digital infrastructure: a final report to the Scottish Government
WAG: The Minister with responsibility for the Welsh language, Leighton Andrews, has announced that he will not be proceeding with the Welsh Language Commissioner’s recommended Welsh language standards.
The Minister believed they ‘would not achieve the aim of providing clear rights for Welsh speakers to use the language of their choice and that there were concerns that some of the proposed standards appear to be beyond the scope of the Measure and that some contradict each other’.
The Minister proposes to build on the Commissioner’s consultation to ‘develop a set of standards that will fully meet the policy aims reflected in the Measure and the commitments given to the National Assembly for Wales by the Minister at the time’.
DECC: A long term plan to ensure the government’s renewable heat scheme for commercial, industrial & community organisations stays within budget has been set out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. DECC is also making a number of other improvements to the scheme following consultation in July last year.
The changes to both air quality & metering will be in place no later than the end of 2013 subject to parliamentary approval and will apply to all new installations only. It is DECC’s intention for the RHI to remain open to new applicants until 2020.
WAG: Community groups have a very important role in helping us meet our climate change & renewable energy targets in Wales. This was the message from Environment Minister, John Griffiths, who outlined how the community energy scheme, Ynni’r Fro is providing intensive support to 24 community renewable projects that embrace hydro, wind & anaerobic digestion technologies.
Ynni’r Fro is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Welsh Government funded programme that supports the creation & expansion of sustainable social enterprises by working with communities to identify renewable energy generation projects across Wales.
DH: Confirmation of the arrangements for Payment by Results (PbR) in 2013-14 is available. The PbR road test exercise concluded on 25 January 2013, and a number of changes have been made as a result of the feedback.
ScotGov: Independence can benefit consumers & businesses by strengthening & streamlining economic and competition regulation in areas such as energy and postal services, Finance Secretary John Swinney claimed, when he unveiled a discussion paper on regulation to business leaders in Stirling recently.
The document suggests that instead of the UK’s 6 different economic & competition regulatory bodies, an independent Scotland combine their functions into 1 or 2 organisations. These bodies would regulate the energy, telecommunications, postal services, water and rail sectors, as well as issues around competition in commercial markets.
CO: In a move that will ‘drive up performance across Whitehall’, all civil servants will from April 2013 have to perform to a unified set of standards. Last week the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, launched a new competency framework for the Civil Service which will ‘focus on achieving results, continuous improvement and breaking down departmental silos’.
DfE: On 1 March 2013, the Secretary of State announced details of the capital funding of around £4bn that will be made available to create new school places and to carry out maintenance & repair work to existing school buildings.
DCMS: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Government Equalities Office and Olympic Delivery Authority have now moved their content to the new GOV.UK website, joining 12 other departments. Content from all remaining departments will be brought into the site in the coming few months,
CO: The first independently-run shared service centre will deliver significant government savings over a 7-year period. The initiative, which is a key part of the Civil Service Reform Plan, will ‘harness the very best private sector expertise to deliver savings for the taxpayer of up to £600m a year’.
Combined with the second Independent Shared Service Centre, which will come on stream early next year, business could grow by taking on additional customers from both the public & the private sectors, as well as offering new services to existing customers as required.