Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Local authorities across Scotland have confirmed that they will freeze council tax for the second year running. Finance Secretary John Swinney, said the decision by a majority of councils would provide vital relief for households at a time when the effects of the economic downturn are being felt across the country. The remaining councils are expected to follow suit in the near future.
Every council which freezes Council Tax will receive a share of the £70m set aside by the Scottish Government to compensate for the loss of increased council tax income.
ScotGov: Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing has reiterated the Scottish Government's complete opposition to UK Government proposals for a National Identity Scheme. The Minister made his views clear in a response to a consultation by the Westminster Government on their ID cards secondary legislation.
Press release ~ ScotGov – Law, Order and Public Safety ~ Identity Cards Act Secondary Legislation - A Consultation (closed) ~ Identity and Passport Service (IPS) – Identity cards ~ Identity Cards Act 2006 ~ Liberty – ID cards ~ LSE – ID Cards ~ NO2ID
WAG: Woodland in the shadow of Cadair Idris has been chosen as the second site for the Welsh Assembly Government scheme to plant a tree for every child born or adopted in Wales. The Plant! scheme was launched in December 2007 and is a commitment in the One Wales programme as part of the WAG’s drive to achieve a sustainable environment.
By planting up to 30 hectares of new woodland a year, the scheme will make a significant contribution to the creation of a WelshNational Forest of native trees. To date, 22,000 mixed native broadleaf trees have been planted at Cefn Ila, near Usk. The Plant! scheme is being delivered by Forestry Commission Wales in partnership with Coed Cadw on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.
HO: A new £1.6m national crime prevention campaign has been launched by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. The adverts will carry simple messages about how the public can make their homes safer and protect themselves from opportunistic criminals with the strapline ‘Lets Keep Crime Down’.
According to the British Crime Survey 36% of burglaries occur in properties with unlocked doors & windows and this new campaign aims to make people aware of the very simple steps they can take to protect their homes and valuables.
Press release ~ HO – Secure your home ~ HO - Burglary ~ British Crime Survey ~ Victim Support ~ Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (England and Wales) ~ Tackling Burglary mini-site
Defra: A new task force aimed at helping secure the future of the pig meat industry has been announced by Farming Minister Jane Kennedy. The Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force will focus on helping the whole supply chain to thrive in a way that is sustainable in the long term.
It will bring together key representatives, from all sectors in the pig meat supply chain to increase collaboration between Government and the various sectors in the industry. The Task Force will examine areas of concern that may include labelling, public sector procurement, endemic disease and better communications throughout the supply chain.
Ms Kennedy has also launched a vision for anaerobic digestion, the process of breaking down organic material such as food waste and farm manures & slurries to create heat & power and transport fuel.
Press release ~ Defra: Pigs ~ ScotGov - Pig Sector Task Force Report ~ Defra - Anaerobic Digestion Vision ~ Pig farming and environmental considerations
HO: A secure videolink that is allowing first time passport applicants to be interviewed by trained staff hundreds of miles away, is rolling out to smaller communities & islands in Scotland, England and Wales. As well as a powerful fraud deterrent, videolink interviews are more convenient for the estimated 4,000 customers from far-flung communities in England, Scotland and Wales who apply for a passport each year.
The hi-tech link follows the introduction of 68 interview offices set up over the last 18 months to interview first-time adult passport applicants face-to-face in a bid to deter fraudsters. The new service is operated in partnership with local authorities who provide premises & staff to facilitate the interviews with IPS officials at a central office.
Defra: A new action plan to make fashion more sustainable and less environmentally damaging was launched at the start of London Fashion Week. The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap has brought together over 300 organisations, from high street retailers, to designers and textile manufacturers to battle the environmental impacts of 'throw away fashion'.
While having many economic benefits, clothing has a significant environmental & ethical impact ranging from increased carbon emissions, waste, water usage and pollution to child labour and unfair trading conditions. The clothing & textiles sector in the UK alone produces around 3.1m tonnes of CO2, 2m tonnes of waste and 70m tonnes of waste water per year - with 1.5m tonnes of unwanted clothing ultimately ending up in landfill.
Press release ~
Sustainable Clothing Roadmap ~ London Fashion Week ~ Textile Recycling Association ~ Fair Trade Foundation UK ~ Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion
Defra: Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, has announced how more than £8m for wildlife conservation projects will be allocated across the developing world. The 43 projects under Defra's Darwin Initiative, which gives money & UK expertise to help start up & extend wildlife conservation projects in developing countries, include activities as diverse as the conservation of chameleons in Madagascar and the restoration of habitats in small Pacific islands.
Press release ~ Defra's Darwin Initiative ~ United Nations Environmental Programme ~ Local Community-based Biodiversity Conservation Films ~ Nature Kenya ~ Darwin200
WAG: Deputy Minister for Skills, John Griffiths, has announced that there would be changes to how the Deprived Area Fund will be implemented in Wales from April 2009. The fund was set up by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to tackle unemployment & economic inactivity in the disadvantaged areas within the UK.
From April 2009 new arrangements for the delivery of the fund will see 2 new local partnerships being set up in Wales that will identify priorities, to work together in a more joined-up way, and to join resources to add value to the work that DWP and Jobcentre Plus are doing at a local level. The two new partnership areas and details about how funding will be allocated will be announced in April 2009.
DH: The Department of Health is giving Ambulance Services more choice over how they answer 999 calls. An alternative system for 999 operators called NHS Pathways has been approved for use in ambulance control rooms allowing staff to make immediate referrals to urgent care services for patients who don't need an ambulance. The system has been used successfully in the North East for over two years and safely handled over 1 million calls.
WAG: Wales’s strategy for the future of the Supporting People Programme (SPP) was recently unveiled for consultation (closes on 12 May 2009) -See ‘Consultations’ for more information.