Policy Statements and Initiatives

DWP: Plans to change the law to require fathers as well as mothers to be named on the birth certificate have been announced in a White Paper. The change, which will be implemented in the next session's Welfare Reform Bill, is meant to put parental responsibility centre stage by giving mothers or fathers a right to insist that the other parent acknowledges their responsibilities to their child by registering on the birth certificate. The responsibility to register a new baby for unmarried parents currently lies predominantly with the mother.
 
This announcement intends to address this through three key changes to the law:
* Requirement to joint register
* Father's obligation to register
* Father's right to register
 
In addition, the White Paper also proposes other non-legislative ways to increase the number of joint registrations, for example ‘registrar outreach’ making it possible for people to register in their local community at a doctor's surgery or community centre.  It also looks at more flexible hours for registration, or the option of a home visit for parents with reduced mobility.
Press release ~ White Paper: Joint birth registration: recording responsibility ~ DWP - Welfare Reform ~ General Register Office
 
ScotGov: A pilot project to screen patients for MRSA before admission to hospital has been officially launched in Scotland. From this summer, all non-emergency admissions to hospital in the pathfinder areas - NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Western Isles and NHS Grampian - will be screened for MRSA as part of the pre-admission procedures.

An interim report on the MRSA pilot project is due by March 31, 2009.  This report will determine the shape of the national programme, which is due to start in 2009-10.
Press release ~ ScotGov – Health ~ ScotGov – Healthcare Associated Infections
 
DfT: Proposals to introduce significantly longer & heavier goods vehicles onto British roads have been rejected by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly.  This follows the publication of an independent report, highlighting a number of issues making their use in the UK impractical, either on a permanent or trial basis.
 
The report, commissioned by the Department for Transport from the Transport Research Laboratory, found that super-lorries could lead to an increase in CO2 emissions due to goods shifting from rail to road, create serious implications for the management of the road network - as the vehicles would be unsuitable for many roads and junctions - as well as introducing new safety risks.
Press release ~ Longer and/or Longer and Heavier Goods Vehicles (LHVs) – a Study of the Effects if Permitted in the UK: Final Report (click on ‘Buy Now’ and then select free pdf version) ~ Highways Agency – Heavy good vehicle mini-site ~ The case for heavier goods vehicles – some new evidence
 
Home Office: The City of Leicester has played host to the first in a series of roadshows organised by the Government to help tackle honour-based violence.  Attended by police, Crown Prosecution Service, Leicester NHS Trust and local charities, the roadshow aimed to increase participants' understanding of the problem, so that they are more prepared to:
·         spot the tell tale signs
·         share best practice from across the country and
·         help those who suffer from honour-based violence
 
The Government already supports victims of honour-based violence through a new national helpline for victims (seven days a week from 9.30am to 9pm- on 0800 5999 247), partly funded by the Government and run by East Midlands based charity Karma Nirvana. Further roadshows will take place in coming weeks & months in Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Cardiff and London.
Press release ~ Home Office/Foreign Office Forced Marriage Unit ~ Karma Nirvana ~ Tackling Violence Action Plan ~ The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007Survivors Handbook ~ What is Forced marriage? ~ Iranian & Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation
 
DH: Health Minister Ben Bradshaw has set out plans to ‘drive up standards of care and tackle underperformance in our hospitals and primary care trusts’. New measures set out in the vision document 'Developing the NHS Performance Regime' will identify failing trusts, remove poor managers and bring in new management, including from other hospitals or from the private sector.
 
At the same time the DH has set out insolvency principles for Foundation hospitals & non-Foundation Trusts designed to ensure that borrowing does not put NHS assets or the continuity of services at risk.
Press release ~ Developing the NHS Performance Regime ~ DH – Managing Your Organisation ~ Monitor
 
CLG: Housing Minister, Caroline Flint, has called for two social housing tenants to come forward to apply for two of the 4 new positions on the board of the new social housing regulator - the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) - the new name for the Office for Social Tenants and Landlords, when it opens for business at the end of 2008.
 
When created by the Housing and Regeneration Bill currently before Parliament, the regulator will be able to identify which landlords are providing a good service to their tenants and reward them accordingly, by cutting red tape through reducing the number of routine inspections or the amount of paperwork.  The regulator will also be able to demand action against landlords who provide a poor service, calling for compensation for tenants suffering poor service, or in extreme cases, change the landlord altogether.
Press release ~ Housing and Regeneration Bill ~ Homes and Communities Agency ~ Application for Board Positions
 
DCMS: A new £140m fund to boost sport & fitness through free swimming for over 60s has been announced as the centre-piece of the Government's plan to ensure a lasting sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
 
The initiative is part of a package of measures in the Legacy Action Plan: Before, During and After: Making the most of the London 2012 Games. The plan, which builds on the five legacy promises made last year, includes new programmes and builds on existing ones which have been enhanced and inspired by the UK's hosting of the Games.
Press release ~ Legacy Action Plan: Before, During and After: Making the most of the London 2012 Games ~ DCMS – 2012 Olympics
 
Defra: Ministers have accepted the recommendations of an independent review of the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards (ACOS), which looked at the future development & governance of ACOS, the quality & impact of its advice and its working methods as well as its resources & how they are managed.
 
The main recommendations following the review are that ACOS continues to be used for securing authoritative advice from the organic sector, but more reliance should be placed on the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) in respect of controlling the organic inspection bodies. The recommendations will now be taken forward with a view to the new control system for the organic inspection bodies coming into place in early 2009.
Press release ~ Review of Advisory Committee on Organic Standards (ACOS) ~ Advisory Committee on Organic Standards ~ UK Accreditation Service (UKAS)

DCSF: A plan to stop young people drinking in public; help them make the right decisions about alcohol; and provide clear information to parents and young people about the risks of early drinking has been announced by Ed Balls, Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson in the Government's Youth Alcohol Action Plan – See ‘In the News’ for more information.
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