Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: Finance Secretary John Swinney has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use the forthcoming Budget to invest in economic recovery.  Mr Swinney was speaking following a meeting of UK and devolved government Finance Ministers on the day that new Scottish Government figures revealed the cost to Scotland of the UK’s continuing austerity programme.
The quarterly State of the Economy report published last week by the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist, ‘provides further evidence to support calls for investment in capital projects, action to boost lending to business and support for household budgets to get the economy moving again’.
Press release & links ~ Related press release
HO: A new TV advertising campaign challenging teenagers to re-think their views of what constitutes rape & consent was launched by the Home Office recently. With 33% of teenage girls and 16% of boys reporting that they have experienced some form of sexual violence from a boyfriend or girlfriend, the campaign aims to help teenagers recognise unacceptable behaviour.
The adverts point teenagers towards a website designed specifically for them, where they can find information, seek help and share experiences with their peers.
Press release ~ This is ABUSE website
ScotGov: Scottish school pupils are set to broaden their knowledge on aspects of Scottish life & culture across all areas of learning.  Learning Minister Alasdair Allan recently confirmed the award in Scottish Studies is among a number of recommendations made by the Scottish Studies Working Group that will be taken forward.
Press release & links
WAG: Finance Minister, Jane Hutt, has announced that £11m of Invest-to-Save funding is being made available to help the public sector meet the challenge of delivering more efficient and effective public services.
Press release & links
WAG: Children in reception class are to receive free books & resources as part of a new programme to boost literacy in the Foundation Phase. Minister for Education & Skills, Leighton Andrews, has that Booktrust Cymru’s Foundation Phase programme would receive Welsh Government funding of £200,000 for a 3-year period.
The funding will help pay for a book bag containing 2 storybooks - one in English & one in Welsh; resources for each school; a support officer to work with schools beforehand; and an evaluation of the programme.
Press release ~ Booktrust Cymru
DH: At the international congress for telehealth & telecare, Paul Burstow set out how the appropriate use of telehealth in the NHS can help people to live more independent lives and stay in control of their care.  

It would mean patients no longer have to wait at home for the doctor or district nurse to call to check vital signs, they spend less time in NHS waiting rooms and anything that could be serious is picked up before it has a chance to get worse.
Paul Burstow said: "The widespread adoption of telehealth and telecare as part of an integrated care plan will mean better quality of care and greater independence for people with long-term conditions. Delivered from the front line it could save the NHS up to £1.2bn over 5 years”.
Press release & links
WAG: As International Women’s Day (7 March 2012) approached, the Equalities Minister joined budding young female engineers as they took on scientific challenges. Jane Hutt tried her hand at building her own wind turbine from scratch alongside 30 ‘Year 9’ girls from 10 secondary schools from across Cardiff & the Vale of Glamorgan.
The workshop was part of a programme at the Discover! Saturday Club - a science-based activity club designed to offer girls a hands-on insight into careers relating to science, technology, construction & engineering.
Press release & links ~ International Women’s Day ~ Discover! Saturday Club
DfTCyclists & walkers across the UK are on track to benefit from thousands of new cycle spaces and routes from the middle of 2012, Transport Minister Norman Baker has announced.  Over 7,500 new cycle spaces at railway stations and 38 new & improved routes have been agreed, as part of a £30m package of developments to connect communities, reduce carbon emissions, get people active and make cycling safer & more convenient.
Press release & links
DH: Over £330m of extra funding will be spent on providing state of the art equipment & facilities to improve services for patients, the Prime Minister has announced. Hospitals around the country will get money for new operating theatres, A&E departments and other services as well as new CT scanners and ultrasound equipment.
Press release & links
NE: To help farmers & growers cope with the drought conditions that, despite recent rainfall, continues to affect some parts of the country, Natural England is ensuring that the appropriate Environmental Stewardship (ES) derogations are made available as quickly as possible to farmers who are in agri-environment schemes.
Press release & links
CBI: The CBI has commented on the launch of greater employment support for ex-offenders, with referral onto the Work Programme on day one of release.
Press release & links ~ DWP press release
DH: A profound shift of decision-making to the local NHS means that clinicians lead change in information technology, ensuring its freedom to innovate, the Health Secretary said at the launch of the Chief Clinical Information Officers network.
Confirming that the government has secured agreement to over a £1bn reduction in its contract with Computer Sciences Corporation, the largest supplier to the now-dismantled National Programme for IT, the Health Secretary made clear that this money will be released back into the NHS.
Press release ~ EHI CCIO Campaign
WAG: Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has taken the opportunity of World Kidney Day to thank all those who took part in the public consultation on Welsh Government plans for legislation on organ & tissue donation.
Press release & links
DfTRail fare increases will be capped at the rate of inflation under plans to help hard-pressed passengers by ensuring the rail industry brings down the cost of Britain’s railways.  A value-for-money study by Sir Roy McNulty concluded last year that ‘inefficiency across the railway industry is costing farepayers and taxpayers £3.5bn-a-year’.
In her Reforming Our Railways: Putting the Customer First Command Paper, Transport Secretary Justine Greening has outlined how the industry will work collaboratively to reduce this £3.5bn efficiency gap by 2019 with the savings going towards curbing fare increases while also investing in rolling stock and better infrastructure, and lessening the industry’s reliance on public subsidy.
Press release & links
DH: More research training will be offered to nurses, midwives & allied health professionals thanks to a new strategy launched by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. Healthcare professionals will be funded to do further education in the research field, such as Masters degrees and PhDs or to spend time doing internships so they can gain experience in using research to improve care.
The aim is to put research at the heart of frontline services and make NHS staff some of the best trained in the world.  The scheme will be managed through the National Institute of Health Research.
Press release ~ Developing the Role of the Clinical Academic Researcher in the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions
CLG: Housing Minister Grant Shapps has recently offered wannabe decorators & carpenters the opportunity to become ‘an apprentice in the home’ - and get paid to hone their skills.  Under the Tenant Cashback Scheme, responsible residents will have the chance to tackle everyday DIY dilemmas like leaky taps, fitting doors and painting and decorating.
Press release & links ~ Tenant Cashback Scheme
DECC: A total of £3.5m in funding has been announced to help train hundreds of people in key green skills ahead of the launch of the Green Deal, delivering on the Deputy PM’s announcement in March last year to create 1,000 Green Deal apprenticeships.
Press release & links
EC: The Electoral Commission has published its response to both the Scottish & UK Government consultations on the Scottish referendum.  The Commission’s response focuses on how to deliver a referendum that is run in the interests of voters and identifies issues where both governments will need to continue to work together to ensure this happens.
Press release & links
ScotGov: The Scottish Government will become the first administration in the UK to make an official  publication available in digital download format for devices such as iPad & Kindle, after it was confirmed the Your Scotland, Your Referendum consultation will be issued as an eBook.
Press release & links
HMT: Discussions have now concluded with health, education & civil service unions on details for new public service pension schemes to be introduced from 2015.
Press release ~ Unite the union comment