Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: Scotland is set to benefit from nearly 15,000 new jobs, over the next 15 years, thanks to investment in broadband infrastructure, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week. The jobs will be created across the economy in areas such as e-commerce, engineering, social media, tourism, laser technologies, cyber security and research & development.  
 
The job figures were published last week in the first annual progress report of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy - Scotland’s Digital Future.   The Scottish Government is investing nearly a quarter of a billion pounds to deliver improved broadband access for people across Scotland.  This includes a £120m broadband boost specifically for the Highlands & Islands and £5m to assist community groups in rural areas gain access to broadband networks. 
Press release & links
 
WAG: The Deputy Minister for Agriculture has asked the people of rural Wales for their views on delivering the new Rural Development Plan. The RDP represents an investment of £841m into rural Wales - the new programme will operate for 7 years starting in 2014, and will support the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of rural areas.
Press release & links
 
ScotGov: A new national campaign encouraging people across Scotland to help combat the environmental & financial impact of food waste was launched last week.  20% of the food & drink we buy ends up being thrown away. This is the equivalent of an average Scottish household having another mouth to feed and avoidable food waste costs the average Scottish household £430 a year.  Two-thirds of the food & drink we waste could be used.
Press release & links
 
ScotGov: More than £1.8m to support the Scottish Government’s autism strategy (launched in November 2011) has been announced by Public Health Minister Michael Matheson.
Press release & links
 
DHSpitting may be considered an unpleasant habit – but in terms of healthy teeth it can make a world of difference to your smile. Dentists across the country are advising patients to think about their dental hygiene habits as part of a renewed focus on better oral health.  Small changes like spitting instead of rinsing after brushing your teeth can help them to absorb fluoride from the toothpaste and protect your mouth from disease.
 
Giving simple tips to help patients prevent dental problems before they appear is a major part of the plan to modernise NHS dentistry.  Recently the Government has announced it will extend its dental pilot scheme which is working to provide the evidence needed to develop the new dental contract.
Press release & links
 
WAG: Education Minister Leighton Andrews has published a new plan which outlines the roles & responsibilities of everyone involved in improving standards of education of our young people. In the Minister’s Teaching Makes a Difference speech in 2011, Leighton Andrews outlined a 20 point plan of actions to drive up standards & performance in education in Wales.  Implementation of some of the reforms is well underway and already having an impact.
Press release ~ Improving schools - executive summary ~ Improving schools
 
CO: The Cabinet Office is leading a radical overhaul of the arrangements that allow civil servants to undertake trade union work during work hours, the Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced recently. This ‘will ensure taxpayer money is only spent on appropriate and accountable trade union work that represents value for money’. The reforms announced recently will ensure that civil servants who are trade union representatives spend at least 50% of their working hours delivering their Civil Service role.  
 
A new benchmark to ensure value for money – a guide figure for the proportion of the paybill spent on facility time is being introduced.  This will be 0.1% of each department’s paybill in the first year. This will include all facility time, time for H&S representatives and time for Union Learning representatives.
Press release & links ~ PCS: Move against support for union members is political
 
10 DS: The Deputy PM recently backed the expansion of a programme to ‘significantly reduce the chances of disadvantaged young people from becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training)’. ThinkForward intervenes early to give struggling students the skills, characteristics and contacts they’ll need to make a successful move from education into work.  
 
Developed by the Private Equity Foundation, ThinkForward now intends to build on a successful pilot and reduce the number of NEET young people in the Shoreditch area of London, which has a child poverty rate of 75%, by 50% by 2016.
Press release & links
 
WAG: The Wales Animal Health and Welfare Strategy (AHWS) Steering Group has agreed their animal disease priorities for Wales for 2012/13. The disease priority list is used by the group to develop & implement proposals for tackling animal disease & welfare issues in Wales.  The diseases are split by; Beef, Dairy & Sheep.
Press release & links
 
DfE: The Government has announced a new flagship scheme to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I and give thousands of schoolchildren the opportunity to visit the Great War battlefields. 

Pupils & teachers from every maintained secondary school in England will have the chance to go on a tour of the great battlefields – such as the Somme, Verdun and Fromelles – and take part in remembrance ceremonies on the western front.

World War I study is already compulsory for children aged 11 to 14. This project – part of the Centenary Education Programme – will allow pupils to learn at first hand about the sacrifices made by the troops and the personal stories of those involved in the war effort. The project will cost £5.3m, from 2013 to 2019.
Press release ~ Commonwealth War Graves Commission ~ IWM: WW1 centenary
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