Policy Statements and Initiatives
DfT: A new THINK! campaign to help children stay safe on the roads has launched recently by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning. The £700,000 campaign, which will run on television and in cinemas, is aimed at children aged six-11 and spells out the dangers of not taking care on the roads.
Television adverts will highlight the importance of finding a safe place to cross the road while the cinema campaign will remind children of the importance of making sure they can be seen when they are out after dark.
In 2010 more than 19,500 children were injured on the roads and 55 were killed.
ScotGov: More than 3,500 adult carers & young carers from across Scotland are set to benefit from a funding package for short breaks. 58 organisations have been offered a share of almost £954,000 for a variety of short breaks projects. This includes 14 groups who help carers purchase their own breaks.
The funding will support young carers & adult carers who care for disabled children, people with dementia, mental health problems and other long-term conditions, substance misuse problems, adults with learning disabilities and adults with physical disabilities.
ScotGov: Plans to make Scotland one of the highest performing nations for recycling in Europe have been unveiled by the Scottish Government recently. Key measures to be included in the Zero Waste Regulations include:
* A ban on municipal biodegradable waste going to landfill
* A ban on material collected for recycling going to landfill or incineration
* New requirements to remove key recyclables from unsorted waste prior to incineration
* New requirements on businesses to present recyclable material for collection
DfE: Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, has announced that the Government will trial free parenting classes in three areas of the country, aiming to reach over 50,000 parents. The trials will run in Middlesbrough, HighPeak in Derbyshire and Camden and they will be available for all parents of children aged 5 years & under.
Mothers & fathers will be offered vouchers to pay for classes in the 3 areas. Organisations & services with a proven record of delivering parenting support will be asked to bid to run the classes. The classes will start in summer 2012 and the trial will run for 2 years.
DfE: Hundreds of children who are permanently excluded from school are to be part of a new trial to improve their education. One in ten secondary schools – around 300 schools – from across England will be part of the trial in which headteachers will be responsible for ensuring that the pupils they exclude continue to receive a decent education. It will also help pupils who are at risk of being excluded by encouraging schools to intervene earlier.
DH: Doctors, nurses & other NHS workers who blow the whistle will be protected in the future, under changes to the NHS Constitution announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley last week. The changes will also make it clear that it is the duty of all NHS workers to report bad practice or any mistreatment of patients receiving care from the health service.
The changes will be enshrined in the NHS Constitution & associated guidelines as soon as possible to encourage more staff to come forward with concerns. This follows the poor care exposed by the Care Quality Commission recently after unannounced inspections of 100 NHS hospitals.
BIS: A new strategy to grow the UK's power electronics industry and increase its share of the £135bn global market was published last week by Business Minister, Mark Prisk. Britain is a world leader in many aspects of power electronics.
The technology is used to do everything from making mobile phone batteries last longer and hybrid cars more practical, to making it possible to generate electricity in everything from a solar cell to a nuclear reactor. The new 5 – 10 year strategy aims to address the main problems in the sector and establish a foundation for ambitious, but sustainable, long-term growth.
Defra: A new recycling charter has been launched to help boost recycling rates and tackle the issues smaller businesses face in getting access to waste services. The Business Waste and Recycling Services Commitment will bring together smaller businesses that need recycling services with local councils offering services, and agencies offering best practice waste reduction advice.
The Commitment emphasises 12 principles of best practice that local authorities can use to tailor services to local businesses such as the need to make recycling easy, provide value for money and continually improve services through feedback.
Defra: Millions of trees could be lost to disease in the UK in the next few years unless urgent action is taken, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman warned last week. She was speaking as she launched a new Government drive to combat the exotic pests & diseases threatening the health of trees in the UK.
The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan, a joint initiative with the Forestry Commission, sets out how to tackle serious tree & plant pests and diseases. It focuses on 4 key areas of activity to combat the threat against our trees – import controls; practical actions; research; and better communications & public engagement.
HMT: Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has announced the creation of a new steering group tasked with devising a suite of ‘simple’ financial products that will help consumers navigate the financial services market. The group will report back by July 2012 setting out how to bring simple products to market, including how simple products are structured & marketed to ensure that consumers get the best deal.
Responses to a Government consultation on simple products, published last week, suggest that the group should initially focus on simple deposit savings & protection insurance products. Other areas likely to be considered include investment products to help consumers save for the long-term.
DH: PM David Cameron last week announced that the Government is investing up to £15m to support the recommendations to improve prosthetics services for military veterans who have lost a limb due to activities while serving their country. In January 2011, the Government asked Dr Andrew Murrison MP to lead a review into the prosthetic services currently offered to veterans by the NHS.
In response to Dr Murrison’s key recommendation, the Department of Health will now introduce a number of national specialist prosthetic & rehabilitation centres for amputee veterans across the country. The Government will work with service charities, including Help for Heroes and BLESMA (The British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association) as well as specialists within the NHS to ensure that high quality NHS facilities are available to our military heroes.
TKF: A new project led by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust was announced last week at a conference with NHS commissioners addressed by Paul Burstow MP, the Minister of State for Care Services. The 2 think tanks have been asked by the Department of Health to support the development of a national strategy for the promotion of integrated care at scale & pace in local communities.
ScotGov: Households throughout Scotland are being encouraged to call the Home Energy Scotland Hotline and sign up for free home insulation. More than 1m homes in Scotland do not meet the insulation levels recommended by the Energy Saving Trust to keep their homes warm and their fuel bills down.
ScotGov recently announced £12.5m for the Universal Home Insulation Scheme (UHIS), opening it up to a further 200,000 homes who will be offered free help to save on energy bills. Householders can find out more by contacting the Home Energy Scotland Hotline on 0800 512 012 or on 0300 456 2655 from a mobile.
ScotGov: College principals & chairs across Scotland have received an invitation to meet with Education Secretary Michael Russell. The meeting will give college leaders the chance to discuss the Scottish Government's proposed reforms of post-16 education - including greater collaboration between colleges, with mergers where appropriate, whilst protecting local access - directly with the Cabinet Secretary. The Education Secretary is planning to hold this meeting in early November.
WAG: All students on NHS-funded courses in Wales will have access to the same package of financial support under new arrangements from September 2012. Changes to the NHS bursary scheme in England were announced in July 2011. Since then, the implications of the changes in England on the bursary system in Wales has been considered fully by the Welsh Government, and discussed with Welsh stakeholders.
DECC: Proposals to support renewable electricity and bring forward a surge of investment in our energy infrastructure were published by the Government last week. The consultation (closes on 12 January 2012) proposes new support levels for large scale renewable electricity from 2013-17(2014-17for offshore wind) under the Renewables Obligation (RO).
WAG: Gwenda Thomas, the Deputy Minister for Social Services & Children, has outlined changes to the ‘way that children & adults at risk in Wales will be safeguarded & protected in future’. She has outlined her plans for a new statutory framework to ‘protect adults at risk, which will encompass duties to investigate, cooperate & share information in protecting adults and to establish a National Independent Safeguarding Board’.
The intention is to introduce the Social Services (Wales) Bill in October 2012 and a public consultation on the Deputy Minister’s plans will be held prior to this.