Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: A new government strategy is intended to halve the number of smokers, from 21% to 10% of the population by 2020. Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, has announced. Research shows that 70% of smokers want to give up and this strategy is meant to ensure every smoker, no matter what level their addiction is or however many times they’ve tried to stop before, will be able to get help from the NHS.
 
It also acknowledges that some smokers need longer-term support & treatment, but that is better than continuing to smoke.  A review of the smokefree law will include, for example, whether to extend legislation from enclosed public places & workplaces to areas like entrances to buildings.
 
The MHRA is also encouraging the development and the wider availability of safer nicotine delivery medicines.  To create a level playing field, the MHRA is consulting (closes on 4 May 2010)on whether to regulate all nicotine containing products (with the exception of tobacco products, which are governed through specific legislation).
Press release ~ A smokefree future: a comprehensive tobacco control strategy for England ~ Nicotine replacement therapy: New extended indication and consultation ~ DH - Tobacco ~ NHS Smokefree ~ Smokefree United ~ NICE – Smoking Cessation Services
 
ScotGov: As new research has been published on public attitudes to broadcasting and the Scottish Government has held a summit (on Monday 8 February) to explore the direction of Scottish broadcasting

The summit was hosted jointly by the Saltire Society and Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop.  Participants were asked to outline their views & aspirations for broadcasting in Scotland and the Scottish Government sought to re-energise efforts to increase Scotland's share of UK network production.
 
Research on viewers' attitudes to broadcasting in Scotland shows that while overall satisfaction with how Scotland is portrayed on television has improved slightly, there has been no improvement in levels of satisfaction at Scottish reporting on UK-wide news programmes.
Press release ~ Public Attitudes to Broadcasting - research ~ Saltire Society ~ Scottish Broadcasting Commission
 
HO: A plan to support Police Service reform & improve value for money has been laid out by senior police figures. The joint report builds on the government’s Policing White Paper and provides further detail on how savings of at least £545m will be delivered. It sets out opportunities to improve value for money, including:
* reforming police shift patterns to better suit the public & cut back on overtime payments
* streamlining back-office support services
* developing smarter procurement policies & finding cheaper IT solutions
* increasing the efficiency of systems & processes
 
The document also includes calls for chief constables to consider how best they provide neighbourhood services, including forces reviewing whether their basic command units maximise delivery for the public. Policing Minister, David Hanson MP, will now write to all chief constables & police authorities urging them to assess how the report’s findings can help them improve their efforts to maximise value for money.
Press release ~ High Level Working Group on Value for Money report ~ Policing White Paper ~ Association of Chief Police Officers ~ Association of Police Authorities ~ National Policing Improvement Agency ~ HM Inspectorate of Constabulary ~ Home Office Police website
 
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has set out its spending plans for 2010 - 11 to the Scottish Parliament. Finance Secretary, John Swinney, said this will include more funding for training & educational places and further support for measures to tackle climate change and fuel poverty.
 
Mr Swinney also announced an Independent Budget Review will be established to consider the implications of forecasts of reductions in public spending in Scotland and that the Scottish Government will (on a monthly basis) publish online details of all items of expenditure above £25,000, beginning with payments processed in April 2010.
Press release ~ Budget Bill 2010-11 Documents ~ Finance Secretary's statement on the Budget Bill 2010 - 11
 
CLG: Housing Minister, John Healey, has announced new practical help & protection for tenants in privately rented homes.  The moves is intended to help tenants find safer & better homes for rent and offer extra support if they face problems with their landlords or accommodation.
 
A new housing hotline will open for business by summer 2010 to offer private tenants FREE practical advice when problems occur and a new ‘tripadvisor’ style feedback website could allow tenants to post views on their accommodation & landlord.  A new National Landlords Register will provide a track record of prospective landlords in how they keep their properties up to scratch or how quickly they fix any faults.
 
Plans laid in parliament last week to make written agreements a legal requirement for all tenancies will mean tenants are clear about their rights from the outset and tenancy rights will be extended to more people living in shared homes on short term lets – giving extra protection to around 150,000 more people including many students & seasonal workers.
Press release ~ The private rented sector: professionalism and quality – consultation: Summary of responses and next steps
 
ScotGov: The Scottish Government has launched a document which sets out planning policy on topics such as housing, wind farms, flooding and the natural & built environment. It replaces 17 separate policies with one single document which is easier for communities and developers to understand & interpret.
 
Also published was a circular updating guidance on the criteria & processes when developers are required to make a contribution to the provision of local infrastructure, where a development would create additional infrastructure demands.
Press release ~ New consolidated Scottish Planning Policy ~ Circular on planning agreements ~ Scottish Property Federation
 
WAG: More than £110m of Welsh Assembly Government funding has been set aside to transform the opportunities & prospects for young people, local residents & businesses in the Heads of the Valleys region.  There will be public consultation about the nature of the proposed changes over the coming months.
Press release ~ UHOVI ~ Merthyr Tydfil Learning Quarter ~ WAG: Further & Higher Education - Higher Education
Keeping benefit and business grant payments flowing