Policy Statements and Initiatives
CLG: Councils could offer thousands of affordable housing deals to help key workers and first time buyers onto the property ladder under a government scheme. New guidancefor establishing Local Housing Companies (LHCs) has been published & issued to the first 14 local authorities who have expressed interested in the scheme (the final version of the guidance will reflect their experiences and is expected to be issued in 2008).
Currently, councils once they sell off surplus land to the private sector have limited influence over how it is developed, or the type and quality of housing provided. But new LHCs could enable them to double affordable housing levels to at least 50% on sites and directly offer key workers and first time buyers shared equity deals.
DCSF: Free nursery education for every three and four year old, backed by £340m has been announced by Children's Minister, Beverley Hughes. The cash will be used to extend the free early education entitlement for all 3 and 4 year-olds, from 12.5 to 15 hours each week (38 weeks a year). The extension will be rolled out across the country over the next three years, and all local authorities will offer the extended entitlement by 2010.
Twenty local authorities already offer 15 hours of free nursery education with £58m provided from the DCSF, and a further 14 will offer the extended entitlement from September 2008. The remaining local authorities will have funding to deliver the 15 hours to their most disadvantaged families, from September 2009. A year later, the rollout will be completed, with every three and four year-old eligible to receive 15 hours free per week.
TSB: The Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham, has announced that the Technology Strategy Board will invest a further £100m in innovation, and invited businesses to submit proposals for collaborative research and development in innovation and new technology.
A new competition for proposals for collaborative research & development, will cover eight technology areas and will be phased over 6 months. It is designed to generate innovative proposals in which businesses work together and with research communities on research & technology projects to deliver successful new products and services.
* Phase 1, opening 8 November 2007: Materials for Energy - High Value Manufacturing - Cell Therapy
* Phase 2, opening 19 December 2007: Low Carbon Energy Technologies - Advanced Lighting, Lasers & Displays - Technologies for Health
* Phase 3, opening 30 January 2008: Gathering Data in Complex Environments - Creative Industries
Proposals with potential applications across several business sectors, which build on links between academic & business research and which involve SMEs will be especially welcome.