Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: The Government has unveiled detailed plans for the new child maintenance system in Great Britain. There will be extra help for separated parents who want to support their children and new penalties for those who won't.
The new statutory maintenance scheme, to be known as the Child Maintenance Service, will take cases where parents cannot make their own arrangements. In order to motivate & create incentives for parental collaboration, a system of charging will apply. The Child Support Agency currently costs almost £500m p.a. on top of the £6bn the Government already pays out in income-related support for lone parents.
HMT: The Government has published its definition of environmental taxes. The definition is designed to encourage effective policy making, and also measurement of progress against the Coalition Agreement pledge to increase the proportion of revenue that comes from environmental tax.
No10: Crossrail, Thameslink, and electrification between London & Cardiff among £5.2bn of projects already committed to during 2014-2019. More than £9bn of growth-boosting railway upgrades across England & Wales – representing faster journey times, more reliable services and capacity for 140,000 extra daily commutes by train – have been announced by Transport Secretary Justine Greening.
Press release & links ~ Comment from Wales Office ~ CBI comments on rail investment ~ IPPR North comment
DWP: Plans to make it simple for people to take their work pension with them from job to job were published last week. Current rules make it difficult for people to combine their pension pots as they move jobs, leaving money stranded or lost completely. Without action 50m pots could sit dormant by 2050.
Press release & links ~ Pensions consumer groups unite in concern at Pensions Minister's small pots approach
DfT: A major new road scheme involving tolling will be added to the Department for Transport’s programme of major projects. Subject to agreement with interested local authorities on a funding package and decisions at the next Spending Review construction work could begin by 2018.
The plans are designed to address congestion & long term capacity issues on & around the strategically crucial A14.
Defra: Restaurants, pubs & caterers should tell diners which countries their food is from, Food & Farming Minister Jim Paice has urged. The appeal from Mr Paice comes 18 months after the food industry introduced voluntary country of origin labelling standards but there has been little action from caterers and no overall improvement on foods in shops, with some manufacturers actually providing less information.
DfE: Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that he has approved the opening of 15 new Studio Schools, which are due to open in 2013 & 2014. By September 2013 the DfE expect 30 Studio Schools to be open. Studio Schools are set up with the backing of employers, and are a key part of the Government's drive to ensure the education system gives school leavers the skills that business needs to grow and prosper.
DfE: Ofsted will no longer be required to produce an annual assessment of each local authority’s children’s services, following the repeal of section 138 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.
NE: The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Natural England have presented the formal Advice Package on 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
HO: A College of Policing will be set up to develop professionalism, improve the evidence base for policing and help officers in the fight against crime, Home Secretary Theresa May announced recently. It will set standards of entry for those who want to become a police officer and will provide some specialist training itself.
The body will forge links between the police service & universities, encouraging future academics to specialise in looking at how policing can be made more effective. The current role of all ACPO business areas in developing national standards & police practice will come under the responsibility of the College.
WAG: Funding for the Families First programme was announced at a national event in the Park Inn, Cardiff recently. It includes £3m for projects with a focus on disability. Families First is delivered by local authorities in response to locally identified needs, with services & projects targeting families threatened or affected by poverty.