Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: The Scottish Government has laid out its programme for the year ahead. In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Alex Salmond set out the priorities - both legislative and non-legislative - contained in a document Moving Scotland Forward.
This comprises 15 Bills including proposals for
* Council Tax Abolition
* tackling Climate Change and
* strengthening the Criminal Justice system
Press release ~ Moving Scotland Forward
CLG: A £1bn housing package has been announced by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears to help first time buyers struggling to get onto the housing ladder, support vulnerable homeowners at risk of repossession and support the house-building industry.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also announced that stamp duty land tax will not apply to purchases of residential property of £175,000 or less.
In a third step, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced new support measures to help vulnerable homeowners meet their mortgage interest payments.  It is reforming Income Support for Mortgage Interest by shortening the waiting period before SMI is paid from 39 weeks to 13 weeks for new working age claims from April 2009.  The capital limit for new working age claims will also be increased to £175,000 from April 2009.
Press release ~ Income Support for Mortgage Interest
ScotGov: Adults across Scotland are being urged to help improve the outlook for children who have been neglected or abused by getting involved in children's panels. Children's Minister Adam Ingram ‘kickstarted’ this year's call for more children's panel volunteers - with top Scots actress Daniela Nardini backing the drive as the voice of a national radio campaign.
The four week recruitment campaign for the children's panel will include radio, print and digital advertisements. Around 550 volunteers are needed across Scotland.
The children's panel is unique to Scotland and was established in 1971 to address the needs & behaviour of children and young people who face serious problems in their lives.  These problems can include, for example, a child being abused, a child failing to attend school, the child's parents having difficulty looking after them, or a child committing an offence.
Press release ~ The Children’s Panel ~ 'Strengthening for the Future' consultation (closes 24 October 2008) ~ Children's Reporter
ScotGov: Car parking charges are to be abolished at NHS hospitals across Scotland, following a review of NHS Boards' car park charging policies. An interim cap of £3 per day has been in place since January 2008. Although many hospital car parks in Scotland are already free, this announcement will apply to 14 hospitals where charges operate. The abolition of charges will take effect from 31 December 2008.
In the meantime, NHS Boards are being asked to submit their plans on how they will address potential increases in demand, promotion of greener forms of transport and the potential use of spaces by commuters, shoppers or others.
The only exceptions to the axe will be car parks at three hospitals provided under Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) contracts (Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital, Dundee), as the costs of early termination would be prohibitive.  
Press release ~ Review of Hospital Car Parking
DFID: A GLOBAL initiative to make overseas aid work better in helping poor people and to make it easier for them and their governments to track how aid is spent has been unveiled by International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander. 
The International Aid Transparency Initiative would also allow the governments of poor countries to plan more effectively by guaranteeing when aid would be delivered to them.
Press release ~ Department for International Development - Providing budget support to developing countries ~ Executive Summary  ~ Results from survey of DFID country teams ~ DFID: Poverty Reduction Budget Support ~ Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education ~ DFID – MDG - Education ~ DFID Global School Partnerships ~ NAO: Tackling Rural Poverty in developing countries ~ Supporting paper:Staff survey results (64 KB) ~ Supporting paper: DFID - Study on Rural Poverty in Developing Countries (LF 2Mb) ~ DFID - eliminating world poverty ~ DFID - Millennium Development Goals - Poverty and Hunger ~ Better livelihoods for poor people: The role of Agriculture ~ Can Microfinance ‘Halve’Poverty By 2015: A Review By Sirajul Islam ~ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ~ Overseas Development Institute - Rural Policy and Governance Group ~ BBC NEWS - Is India's rural poverty plan working?
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