Policy Statements and Initiatives
CO: The government claims that substantial reforms to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS) will save up to £500m over the next 3 years without impacting on the very lowest-paid civil servants. The scheme sets out how much compensation should be given to staff who are made redundant or who volunteer to leave under an early exit programme from 1 April 2010.
Under the new rules announced by Minister for the Cabinet Office, Tessa Jowell, a new maximum severance payment limit will be imposed for all Civil Servants and all departments will be required to follow the same rules on redundancy payments (with some flexibility to set compensation payable in other circumstances) and the minimum qualifying period for redundancy payments will be increased.
Press release ~ Fairness for All ~ Cabinet Office response to the ‘Fairness for All’ consultation ~ Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government
DH: A new campaign will help young people to make more informed choices about contraception, look after their sexual health and avoid unwanted pregnancies. The campaign aims to promote more open & honest discussions about sex, relationships and contraception among 16 to 24 year olds & their parents. Research shows that a lack of knowledge & misinformation (coupled with poor attitudes & communication) is currently hindering their safer sexual behaviour.
The first phase of the campaign – Contraception, Worth Talking About – is intended to increase young people’s awareness of the different types of contraception and remind them that they won't be protected against STIs unless they use a condom.
CLG: A pioneering agreement has devolved new powers to Leeds City Region to take control of its economic recovery, Local Government Minister, Rosie Winterton, announced recently. Leeds is one of the first city regions in the country to have devolved local powers from central government. Greater decision making on funding for housing, regeneration transport, employment & skills will be localised now the agreement has been ratified & signed in Harrogate by Rosie Winterton and Councillor Carter, Chair of the LeedsCity Region Leaders Board.
WAG: A 5-year programme to study the impact of climate change on the land, sea & atmosphere has been given the go-ahead by the Welsh Assembly Government. The Climate Change Consortium, comprising Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities, will also consider the effects of climate change on the planet’s ice & glaciers and its social consequences.
Additionally, the Consortium, known as C3W (and funded by the WAG via HEFCW) will provide information for schools, universities, businesses & the public and will organise activities including road-shows, briefings and a display at the National Museum of Wales.
Press release ~ Climate Change Consortium (C3W) ~ HEFCW ~ National Museum of Wales ~ WAG: Climate change
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is to hold talks with leaders of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to find a new way forward on the issues of class sizes & teacher numbers. A fall in teacher numbers shown in the latest statistics has been branded 'unacceptable' by Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who now wants to examine whether current arrangements in schools are capable of successfully implementing national education policy.
Half of Scotland's councils have reduced primary class sizes and the COSLA talks will focus on ways in which this progress can be achieved across all councils.
Press release ~ Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) ~ ScotGov Concordat with local government ~ Pupils in Scotland - 2009 ~ Teachers in Scotland - 2009 ~ Summary of pupils and teachers in Scotland - 2009
MoJ: More communities affected by youth crime & anti-social behaviour will have their say in how young offenders are punished & forced to make amends to their local neighbourhood, Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, has claimed. Youth Offending Teams across North West England will take part in the first official programme - 'Making Good' - allowing members of the public to propose local work for young offenders (10-17 years old).
If the scheme -developed by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) - proves to be successful it will be rolled-out across the country from early 2010. The type of projects expected to be put forward could range from cleaning graffiti and repairing vandalised public furniture, to work in local libraries and charity work.
'Making Good' will form part of the government's new youth sentencing system - the Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) – which came into effect last week, to ‘further tackle the underlying causes of youth crime and make our neighbourhoods safer and better places to live’.
Press release ~ Making Good ~ Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) ~ Making Good on Twitter ~ Making Good blog
Newswire – HCA: 2 of the key agencies charged with improving the economic prosperity of English regions & the places where people live, have signed up to work closely together, focusing on specific areas of activity.
In a statement of joint working, the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) have pledged to develop:
* Regional Governance suitable to each region’s context
* Regional Strategy including the regional vision, aims and objectives
* Regional investment planning
* Investment Planning
* Capacity & Capability
* Regional Best Practice & Learning Networks
* National Level arrangements
Press release ~ Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) ~ Governance & operation - Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) ~
Sub-National Review (SNR)
DFID: Tariffs should be scrapped for 'green goods' like solar powered stoves, water saving showers and wind turbine parts, Gareth Thomas argued last week. Speaking at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, the Minister for Trade & Development said the move would encourage the widespread use of environmentally-friendly low-carbon products. At present, applied tariffs on these products can be as high as 27%.
The move is not without precedent. In 1997, after the Uruguay Round on trade, tariffs on IT goods were abolished in order to get the sector moving. As a result of this, by 2005, members of the agreement made up 97% of the world trade in IT products. A similar strategy on green goods could make a crucial difference to the distribution of products like wind turbine parts & solar powered cookers.
Defra: Support for coastal communities in adapting to coastal change was announced when the government awarded £11m in grants to 15 local authorities who had come up with the best & most innovative ideas for dealing with & adapting to coastal change. Each has come up with their own ‘pathfinder’ scheme to work with communities and find ways of dealing with a changing coastline.
Projects range from creating new sand dunes & building boardwalks to (where properties are at risk) developing of ‘buy to let’ schemes and the purchase of land to rebuild properties at risk. Erosion already affects 30% of the English coastline and other areas are at risk of flooding – risks that can only be exacerbated by the threat of climate change.
WAG: Social Justice Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons, has announced the 19 credit unions that will share £1m of capital funding. The money is intended to help them purchase their own properties and carry out other capital works such as refurbishment.
Press release ~ WAG: Credit unions ~ Financial Inclusion Strategy (& action plan) for Wales: Taking Everyone into Account
LDA: Children from 1,600 lower income London families will benefit from the London Development Agency’s new childcare initiatives which are being rolled out across 8 London boroughs. Details of the Childcare Affordability Programme were announced last week at the European Cities Against Child Poverty Conference, following an earlier Mayoral announcement in August 2009. The programme will see up to £1m invested in each of the 8 participating boroughs.
3 out of 5 children living in poverty in the capital are living in households where no one is in work. The Programme is linked to a national commitment to eradicate child poverty in the UK by 2020. It will run for 2 years from December 2009 to December 2011 and will be managed by the London Development Agency.
DfT: An independent expert has been appointed to examine possible changes to the law on drink & drug driving, Transport Secretary, Andrew Adonis, announced when as he launched the Government’s Christmas drink drive campaign. Sir Peter North will advise on the case for changes to the drink driving limit, as well as on whether there is a need to tighten the law on drug driving. For both drink & drugs, the study will also consider the likely impacts of any changes on driver behaviour and the practical steps needed to support the introduction of any new or revised offence.
The DfT has also launched its £1.2mTHINK! Christmas drink drive campaign, including a new Driver Friendly initiative which will see designated drivers at thousands of pubs across the country receiving free or discounted soft drinks.
Press release ~ Study into the legislative regime for drink and drug driving ~ Drug driving ~ Drink driving ~ THINK! Driver Friendly initiative
WAG: New proposals aimed at driving forward improvements to health & social care provision in Wales’s rural areas have been announced by Health Minister, Edwina Hart, delivering on a key One Wales commitment. The plan outlines how the NHS can fully utilise the skills of staff & resources to deliver better care for patients in rural localities. It looks at how a range of services including hospitals, GP practices, dental services, district and community nursing, occupational health, physiotherapy services and community mental health support can be delivered most effectively within rural communities.
The Health Minister also announced the establishment of an expert group to advise on the delivery of the plan and to consider how access to GPs in rural areas could be improved, plus alternative models of patient transport for emergency & non-emergency needs in rural areas.
Press release ~ Rural Health Plan – Improving Integrated Service Delivery Across Wales ~ WAG - Health and social care ~ Rural Health Good Practice Toolkit ~ Institute of Rural Health ~ A profile of Rural Health in Wales ~ Rural Health Planning for Wales - improving service delivery across Wales ~ CRC: Our NHS, Our Future: a rural response ~ Defra-commissioned database of good practice in rural health and wellbeing
BIS: Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, provided a boost for the UK’s civil nuclear industry last week by outlining a package of announcements to provide help to enable British businesses to seize the opportunities this rapidly expanding sector presents.
Press release ~ Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) ~ Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) ~ Nuclear Industries Association
HO: A new programme of measures to help the police work smarter to fight crime, tackle anti-social behaviour and further increase public confidence has been launched by the Home Secretary. Plans set out in the government’s policing white paper - Protecting the public: supporting the police to succeed - are intended to ‘make the police more accountable to the public & deliver significant cost savings by working better in partnership, improving efficiency and standardising procurement’.
In addition, the ‘reducing bureaucracy in policing advocate’, Jan Berry has released her first year report. The document - Reducing bureaucracy in policing - presents the findings of her examination of ‘how the police service can build on the progress of the last year and remove even more unnecessary red-tape, freeing up police time and strengthening front line discretion to serve the public better’. The government has accepted 13 of the report’s recommendations and will consider the other 22.
Press release ~ White Paper: Protecting the public: supporting the police to succeed ~ JB’s report: Reducing bureaucracy in policing ~ Home Secretary’s strategic policing priorities for 2010/11
WAG: Local partnerships will take the lead in ‘developing strong, resilient & harmonious communities fit to meet the challenges of the 21st Century’ Social Justice & Local Government Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons, told community groups in Wrexham last week.
Launching ‘Getting On Together – a Community Cohesion Strategy for Wales’ the Minister said the strategy is part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s One Wales commitment to achieve a fair & just society, where all citizens can shape their own lives & communities in which they live.
The Strategy focuses on those policy & service delivery areas that research has shown can have a significant impact on how well a community gets on together - housing; learning; communication; promoting equality & social inclusion and preventing violent extremism & strengthening community cohesion.
ScotGov: Options for the future of the crofters' Bull Hire Scheme have been presented to Scottish Ministers for consideration. A final decision on the future of the 100-year-old scheme, which provides crofters with access to bulls to ensure the quality of cattle, will be announced early in 2010.