Policy Statements and Initiatives
WO: Wales Office Minister, David Jones, is urging the cities of Swansea & Newport to seize the opportunity to become a Super-Connected City and revolutionise the way their residents & businesses get online. The 2 cities are eligible to bid for a share of a £50m funding pot designed to help them roll out ultrafast broadband (For this programme, ultrafast means speeds as close to 80-100Mbps as is currently possible).
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published guidance on the bidding process for the funding and cities must produce plans for a contiguous area offering fixed ultrafast broadband as well as high speed wireless connectivity.
ScotGov: Scotland launched a Climate Justice Fund last week to help some of the world’s poorest communities tackle the impact of climate change, it was announced recently. First Minister Alex Salmond was joined by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to announce details of the fund. This will deliver on the Scottish Government manifesto commitment to co-ordinate a climate adaptation fund.
DECC: A £10m scheme aimed at getting low carbon forms of heating like biomass boilers, solar hot water panels & heat pumps into the homes of social housing tenants across Great Britain opened to applications last week.
Following the success of the first social landlord competition under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme last year, DECC has launched a bigger & better second round. The amount of money available has increased from £3m to £10m and registered providers for social housing such as local authorities and social housing associations will be able to bid for up to around £175,000 each.
The scheme is being managed by EST and interested applicants can apply online (closing date for applications is 4 July 2012). DECC is hosting a number of seminars (see press release) across the country to provide further information on the scheme and would encourage potential applicants to attend.
CLG: A further multi-million pound cash boost for communities will help tackle the blight of empty properties and bring thousands of homes back into use, has been announced by Communities Minister Andrew Stunell. The number of long term empty homes has fallen to the lowest level since 2004, but with 720,000 empty homes across England, Mr Stunell believes there is still more to do.
DH: Women who have postnatal depression or who have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a baby will get more support from the NHS, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has recently pledged. The extra 4,200 health visitors – who provide services for expectant and new parents at home and in local communities after they have had a baby – being recruited by the Government will get enhanced training so they can spot the early signs of postnatal depression.
WAG: The Minister with responsibility for the Welsh Language, Leighton Andrews, has decided upon the terms of Ofcom’s Welsh language scheme. He has decided to impose a scheme which includes a measure about Ofcom considering the use of the Welsh language when carrying out its functions involving services to the public. The Minister has informed Ofcom and the Welsh Language Commissioner that he has exercised the Welsh Ministers’ powers under section 14(5) of the 1993 Act.
ScotGov: An oil & gas industry strategy for Scotland, targeting higher long-term recovery rates, greater exports and £30bn annual sales by 2020, was published by the First Minister recently. Oil & gas is the largest industry sector in the UK, contributing almost a fifth of all corporation tax paid to the UK Treasury and supporting 440,000 jobs – nearly half of them in Scotland.
Over 4 decades, 40 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) have been recovered from the North Sea, delivering £300bn in revenues to the UK Government. The wholesale value of reserves remaining to be extracted is estimated to be up to £1.5 trillion.
Defra: Homes, roads & parks could all be better protected from the effects of climate change after an agreement was struck between ministers and local government. In agreement between Defra, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Local Government Association (LGA) called for vital public services to be better protected and emergency planning & social care made more resilient after signing a joint statement showing their commitment to adapt the country to climate change.
The agreement was reached at a Climate Summit hosted by the LGA in response to the impacts identified in the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012, published earlier this year. Their findings will inform the National Adaptation Programme, which the Government will publish in 2013.
DfE: The Deputy PM has hailed a transformation in free early education as he announced a shake-up of the way it is delivered. At the moment, all 3- and 4-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of free early education per week. 2-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were due to start receiving free pre-school education from 2013, but the Deputy Prime Minister wants to see the programme rolling out early from September 2012.
In addition, the hours in which parents can bring in their children for their free place will be extended by 2 hours. Currently, parents are restricted by having to drop their children off no earlier than 8am and picking them up no later than 6pm. This will be extended to 7am - 7pm.