Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: Details of 2 schemes that will unlock the aspirations of a new generation of home buyers, and get Britain building thousands of new homes, were unveiled last week by the PM and Housing Minister Grant Shapps. Mr Shapps declared the NewBuy Guarantee open for business - a scheme that will enable an estimated 100,000 prospective & existing homeowners to buy their dream home with smaller deposits than currently required.
 
At the same time, the Minister announced details of the reinvigorated Right to Buy, which will give up to 2m social tenants the opportunity to buy their council home with a discount of up to £75,000 and, for the first time, ensure that additional properties sold are replaced with new affordable homes for rent.
Press release & links
 
DfTUtility companies who take too long to complete their road works will face higher charges, Transport Minister, Norman Baker has announced.  Currently, the maximum daily overrun charge is £2,500, depending on the type of works and the sort of street being occupied. 

From 1 October 2012 this will rise on the busiest roads to £5,000 a day for the first 3 extra days, rising to £10,000 a day from the fourth extra day onward.  Councils must spend overrun charge income on implementing transport policies.
Press release & links
 
Defra: A new £20m scheme to help provide work-based training for rural businesses has been announced by Farming Minister, Jim Paice. Rural businesses often find it hard to access the best vocational training courses. Defra’s Skills and Knowledge Framework, provided through the Rural Development Programme for England, will offer a subsidised vocational training programme to help improve business skills.
Press release & links
 
NE: Farmers in England are being given the chance to teach children about life down on the farm by applying for funds to install facilities for school & youth groupsEducational access capital funding through the Higher Level Stewardships scheme (HLS) is available to help provide items to improve visitor access to farms such as classrooms, washroom facilities and access furniture such as kissing gates.
 
Farmers in HLS who can demonstrate the potential for their farms to host high quality educational visits for school children or care farming clients should contact their local Natural England Land Management Adviser by 30 June 2012 to apply for the funding.
Press release & links
 
WAGUnlocking the energy from our seas, making sure the £bns of investment delivers jobs, helping businesses maximise opportunities and ensuring communities benefit from energy developments are among the commitments included in the Welsh Government’s vision for energy - ‘Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition’.
Press release & links
 
BISProposals to widen business access to new & alternative sources of finance (particularly for small & medium-sized enterprises) have been published by the independent Taskforce on non-bank lending.
 
The report anticipates growth in demand for finance as the economy recovers, and the expected constraint on availability from banks as they deleverage could create a finance gap for businesses of £84bn - £191bn over the next 5 years.
Press release ~ Boosting Finance Options for Business
 
Ofsted: Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has issued a national challenge to drive up stalled standards of literacy & English.  1 in 5 children do not achieve the expected literacy levels by the end of primary school – 100,000 pupils last year alone – rising to 1 in 3 pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.  1 in 7 adults, as many as 5m people, lack basic literacy skills.
Press release & links
 
DfE: Schools Minister Nick Gibb has announced a new national award scheme to ‘recognise the top achievers in every secondary school in England – and those showing great potential’. The award, open to all maintained secondary schools, will see teachers selecting a Year 9 pupil as their Dux (Latin for leader or champion). They will be rewarded with a visit to one of the 20 current Russell Group universities.
 
Further details of the Dux Award can be found on the Department's website.  Registration will then open immediately after the Easter break on Monday 16 April 2012. 
Press release & links
 
CO: A new deal with one of the Government’s biggest IT services suppliers, Capgemini, will help lead to savings over £200m, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announced last week. The agreement is the latest in a series of contract renegotiations with large suppliers that will secure more flexible contracts and better deals & prices for taxpayers.
Press release & links
 
HO: Immigration Minister, Damian Green has announced that every passenger on non-European Economic Area (EEA) flights travelling to the UK will have their details checked using the e-Borders system, which collects & analyses information on passengers & crew intending to travel to or from the UK before they travel.
Press release & links
 
DFID: More than 17,000 health workers will be trained by UK volunteers to provide emergency care for mothers & newborns, with new support from UK aid. The British-backed 'Making It Happen' scheme teaches lifesaving skills for dangerous pregnancies and wider health issues to local medical workers. It is designed to improve delivery care and reduce the shocking number of lives lost in pregnancy & childbirth.
Press release & links
 
HMT: Lord Hutton of Furness has set out his proposals for comprehensive, long-term structural reform of public service pension schemes.  The final report of the Independent Public Services Pension Commission follows a comprehensive 9-month review. It sets out a number of detailed recommendations to the Government on how public service pensions can be made sustainable & affordable in the future, while providing an adequate level of retirement income.
 
The main recommendation of the report is that existing final salary public service pension schemes should be replaced by new schemes, where an employee’s pension entitlement is still linked to their salary (a “defined benefit scheme”), but is related to their career average earnings, with appropriate adjustments in earlier years so that benefits maintain their value.
Press release & links ~ FDA responds to Hutton report
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