Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt led a panel discussion last week on achieving his ambition for a paperless NHS by 2018.
 
He pledged that one region in England would have a fully portable electronic health record in place across health and social care by the time of the next election.  Hunt also said that technology could help the NHS tackle its 2 main challenges – an ageing population and financial sustainability.
 
The Health Secretary also launched a video ‘Taking the hassle out of healthcare’ that provides a short light-hearted overview of the benefits of the NHS going digital.
Press release & links
 
WAG: A new small grant fund that aims to tackle poverty has been announced by the Minister for Local Government & Communities, Carl Sargeant. From April 2013, funding totalling £3.8m a year will be available to organisations across Wales from the Tackling Poverty Small Grants Fund.  

The new Fund incorporates the Communities First Trust Fund and the small grants scheme that was previously available via the Community Facilities and Activities Programme (CFAP).
Press release & links
 
NENatural England is reminding its farming customers that it will be continuing to make Environmental Stewardship scheme derogations available to help farmers cope with further wet weather or snowfall this winter.
Press release & links
 
ScotGovScotland’s process of transition to an independent country following a ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s historic referendum has been outlined in a paper published by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The publication sets out the steps required to establish the constitutional platform that would ‘give the Scottish Government elected in May 2016 the powers to build a newly independent Scotland’.
 
The paper outlines a transition timetable, with Independence Day scheduled for March 2016, immediately ahead of the May 2016 Scottish parliament election.  The publication is the first in a series of information papers to be released ahead of the independence white paper in the autumn.
Press release & links
 
WAGOnline assessments & community-based support will enable over-50s in Wales to assess & improve their own health, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths announced last week. It is a Programme for Government commitment to introduce health checks for people aged over 50.  The aim is to support & empower people over 50 to have greater control over their own health and wellbeing.
 
Public Health Wales will develop the health check programme, which will include alternative assessment methods for those unable or preferring not to access services online.  The programme will be introduced over a 3 year period starting at the end of 2013.
Press release & links
 
WAG: Housing Regeneration & Heritage Minister Huw Lewis has called upon mortgage lenders & homebuilders to sign up to deliver the NewBuy Cymru scheme at a special event to inform the industry of the details of the scheme.
 
NewBuy Cymru will be available to all buyers in Wales, subject to fulfilling lending criteria, and will support the purchase of up to 3,000 new build homes up to value of £250,000.  The Welsh Government and house builders will act as guarantors so that buyers can secure high loan to value mortgages that would not otherwise be available to them.  

Buyers will contribute a 5% deposit.  The scheme, which the Welsh Government is supporting with a guarantee, could enable an investment in housing of up to £500m within a 5-year period.
Press release & links
 
Defra: The Government is bringing in compulsory micro-chipping for all dogs from 6 April 2016 to help reunite owners with lost or stolen pets, relieve the burden on animal charities & local authorities and protect the welfare of dogs by promoting responsible dog ownership.
Press release & links
 
CBI: Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment & Skills policy has commented on the Government’s latest education reform proposals.
Press release ~ DfE: Oral statement to Parliament ~ IfL responds to the government’s GCSE announcement ~ BHF - Michael Gove has missed first opportunity to save lives, must not miss second
 
MoD: A new strategy has been published outlining how international defence engagement will be better focused towards contributing to wider government objectives

The International defence engagement strategy sets out how all defence activity, short of combat operations, will focus efforts on those countries which are most important to our national interests. The strategy includes 4 pillars of defence: defence diplomacy, support to operations, exports & building stability.
Press release & links ~ MoD:  Better for military to ‘Jaw, Jaw’ rather move straight to ‘War, War’ (7th item)
 
TISConsumers who pay for advice on managing their debts will now be protected by a new Debt Management Plan (DMP) Protocol, launched by Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson recently. Under the Protocol, agreed with providers & creditors, consumers will not be charged any fees before signing a contract with a Protocol compliant debt management company.  

Providers have agreed to spread the recovery of their set up fees, over at least the first 6 months, making plans more affordable & sustainable.
Press release & links
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