Policy Statements and Initiatives

Wales Office: Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain has urged Welsh media organisations to join forces and submit the strongest possible bids to create a new pilot to replace ITV regional news in Wales.  Following on from the publication of the Digital Britain report the Government consulted on the proposal of Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) pilots.  The responses showed strong support for securing plurality of news sources in all regions of Britain and backed the pilot proposals.
Press release ~ Details of the (closed) consultation & pilots
 
DCSF: Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has backed children & young people in care and promised them the same as every other child with ‘a promise that they should not be stopped unnecessarily from taking part in activities their friends do’.
 
In 2007 the Government launched the Care Matters programme, a set of reforms to the care system bought in to improve the service that vulnerable children & young people receive.  The Government has now published the first annual progress report into these reforms, setting out the progress to date, the range of measures introduced since Care Matters and outlining the Government’s priorities for the care system for 2010.  
 
Through a series of reforms announced in recent years, the Government wants to put children & young people in the driving seat for reform, by empowering them to directly contribute to making the care system better.  The proposed change to the law will be outlined in a letter that will be sent individually from Ed Balls to every child & young person in care (currently 60,000+).
Press release ~ ‘From Care2Work’ programme ~ Care Matters: Ministerial Stocktake Report 2009 ~ National Care Advisory Service (NCAS) ~ NCAS Briefing paper ~ Letter from Ed Balls to children in care
 
Ofsted: Being separated from your siblings & losing touch with them, not being adequately supported by social workers and often moving from one carer to the next are just some of the concerns voiced by children in care, in a report that gives first-hand accounts of their experiences – See ‘In the News’ Ofsted item for more information.
 
CLG: Families who haven't worked for years will be helped to climb out of poverty & into employment through a new £40m job & skills drive Communities Secretary, John Denham, claimed recently. Many of the families who have been unemployed for years become entrenched in a culture of worklessness - the Government will give people the right support they need to get a job, but equally will expect them to take up the offer or risk financial sanctions like losing benefits.
 
The extra Working Neighbourhood funding announced last week will allow 61 councils to do more, including directly stepping in to help the lives of some of the poorest people to get them in shape for work and off long term benefits, providing the support & skills they need.
Press release ~ Working Neighbourhood funding ~ CLG - Neighbourhood renewal ~ WNF Reward (scroll down and click on relevant link) ~ Ends and Means: The Future Roles of Social Housing in England ~ Reaching Out: An Action Plan on Social Exclusion
 
ScotGov: The latest NHS Scotland performance management (HEAT) targets include a commitment to ensure that 90% of people who need treatment for their drug problem receive it within 3 weeks. A similar target to cover specialist alcohol misuse treatment will come into force the following year. The targets also include a commitment to deliver faster access to specialist child & adolescent mental health services.
 
There is currently no maximum waiting time for access to these services but, by March 2013, patients will wait no longer than 26 weeks as a milestone to delivering even faster access. Other new targets include:
* At least 60% of 3 & 4 years olds in Scotland are to routinely get fluoride teeth varnishing, to improve their oral health, by March 2014
* An annual 3% reduction in CO2 emissions over the next 5 years
* A further 15% reduction in MRSA cases by March 2011, on top of a 30% reduction by March 2010.
Press release ~ HEAT targets for 2010-11
 
Defra: Defra recently unveiled its third Sustainable Development Action Plan (SDAP), which sets out what Defra will be doing over the next 18 months. Priorities for this plan include how to sustainably increase global agricultural production, making the Olympics greener and developing Defra’s first Departmental climate change plan to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts.
Press release ~ Defra: Third Sustainable Development Action Plan (SDAP)
 
WAG: A campaign to get people across Wales to re-use their bags when out doing their Christmas shopping has been launched. The seasonal push is part of the ‘Get Carried Away’ campaign.  Each year an estimated 320m bags are handed out in Wales and it takes between 500 & 1,000 years for them to degrade.
Press release ~ Wales – Carbon Footprint ~ Single-use carrier bags ~ Consultation on proposals to introduce a charge on single use carrier bags in Wales ~ ‘Get Carried Away’ ~ British Retail Consortium – Carrier Bags ~ Keep Wales Tidy ~ The Sustainability Committees report into the Banning of Plastic Bags
 
DH: A cross-government action plan to improve the health of offenders in prison & in the community has been launched. Individuals from socially excluded sections of the community are over-represented in the offender population.  The plan draws together recommendations by Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health & learning disabilities in the criminal justice system and the views of stakeholders.  It will hopefully help to protect the public, reduce health inequalities and cut levels of re-offending.
Press release ~ Improving Health, Supporting Justice ~ Lord Bradley’s review of people with mental health and learning disabilities in the criminal justice system ~ Government’s response
 
ScotGov: An additional £1.5m is being invested by the Scottish Government to ensure Scotland's scientists play their part in strengthening global food security. The funding will contribute to collaborative UK work being led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Press release ~ National Food and Drink PolicyBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
 
MoD: New measures have been announced by Harriet Harman, Minister for Women & Equality and Bob Ainsworth, Secretary of State for Defence. The measures include an Employment & Skills Taskforce, Armed Forces Champions for Jobcentre Plus and a further review of childcare & school place allocation for service families.
 
These measures add to the progress made by the cross-government 2008 Service Personnel Command Paper, which was published specifically to ensure that service families were no longer disadvantaged in obtaining jobs, or accessing public services such as childcare, education, healthcare, and work. 
 
In addition the External Reference Group (ERG) has published - A nation’s commitment to the Armed Forces community: First annual report on progress – which highlights achievements over the past year.  It also sets out what remains to be done to maintain progress.
Press release ~ Closed consultation: The Nation’s Commitment to the Armed Forces Community: Consistent and Enduring Support ~ 2008 SPCP: The Nations Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans ~ The Royal British Legion ~ Providing for our People website ~ Related press release ~ A nation’s commitment to the Armed Forces community: First annual report on progress
 
WAG: Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has outlined how the recommendations of an independent review into performance & excellence of sport in Wales will be taken forward at the debate in the National Assembly.  The report made an assessment of systems & processes that to support sport at the elite level in Wales.  It also looked at the pathways in place to ensure that young talent is identified and brought forward in Wales.
Press release ~ Performance and Excellence Sport in Wales ~ Sports Council for Wales ~ ‘Climbing Higher – a strategy for Sport and Physical Activity in Wales’ ~ ‘Framework for the Development of Sport and Physical Activity’
 
ScotGov: Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing has made clear the Scottish Government's determination to eradicate the sectarian attitudes & actions that have blighted Scotland for so long. In a statement to the Parliament, he announced an evaluation of the use of Football Banning Orders (FBO's) to ensure that they are being used to the full in tackling the violence & abusive behaviour, including sectarian abuse that sometimes occurs at, or around, matches.
 
He also made clear that he wants to work with CoSLA and ACPOS to consider how the 2006 Statement on Tackling Abusive Behaviour at Marches and Parades could be used at a more local level to ensure all parties involved in parades consider the impact & disruption they can cause and work together for the good of all communities.
 
The Minister also set out the work already underway to tackle sectarianism, including support for anti-sectarian organisations, the Promoting Citizenship through Football Partnership and educational resources for schools.
Press release ~ Football Banning Orders - Scotland ~ Sectarianism: Update on Action Plan on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland ~ Action on Sectarianism – Marches & Parades ~ Review of Marches and Parades in Scotland ~ Promoting Citizenship through Football Partnership ~ Nil By Mouth ~ Sense Over Sectarianism ~ Show Racism the Red Card ~ The Marches and Parades Consultation Report ~ ScotGov: Law, Order & Public Safety

ScotGov: The Scottish Government is to fund the charity SANDS with up to £20,000 to work with health boards on improving support for mothers & fathers after their baby is stillborn.  The money will be used to ensure maternity staff are given specialist education & training, so that they are better equipped to support bereaved parents.
Press release ~ SANDS
 
DH: 20 innovative new projects, designed by frontline NHS staff to transform patient care, were announced by Care Services Minister Phil Hope on Social Enterprise Day last week. Frontline staff working in Primary Care Trusts can set up a social enterprise to improve their services under the ‘right to request’ scheme.
 
This first wave of projects include a wide range of services, including those for homeless people, children & young people and mental health services. Each of the 20 organisations will receive £30,000 of DH funding; a dedicated mentor and access to professional development opportunities that will help ensure their social enterprise is a success.
Press release ~ Social Enterprise Day ~ Social Enterprise Unit at the Department of Health ~ DH: Social Enterprise ~ Social Enterprise Investment Fund (SEIF) ~ Unite: Social Enterprise - briefing document ~ Kingston NHS trust ‘rides roughshod’ over government policy, as it presses ahead with social enterprise ~ Staff need to be consulted on NHS Hull plans for a social enterprise
 
DCSF: Schools Minister Vernon Coaker has confirmed plans to bring in a new curriculum for primary education – with what he claims is overwhelming support from pupils, parents, teachers & experts.  New legislation introduced last week on primary curriculum reform in England will hopefully ‘drive up education standards across the board’.
 
He confirmed that evolution will become a compulsory part of science education and that British history will be a key, and permanent, feature of the historical, geographical & social understanding area of learning.

The new legislation is based on recommendations from an independent review of the primary curriculum by Sir Jim Rose, which sought the views of teachers, parents, pupils and subject experts and took over a year to complete.  The Government accepted Jim Rose’s recommendations in full in April 2009.
Press release ~ Written Ministerial Statement ~ Primary curriculum review – Curriculum reform consultation to the DCSF ~ Jim Rose Review
 
HO: New television, radio, press & online adverts which tell the public what rights they have under the national Policing Pledge have been launched by Home Secretary Alan Johnson. The Policing Pledge is just one part of the Policing Green Paper, published last summer, which ‘signalled a fundamental shift in police accountability and reporting’.  All 43 police forces have signed up to the Pledge which sets out a range of promises about what the public can expect from the police.
 
The adverts focus on 2 of the promises within the Pledge, that:
* your Neighbourhood Policing Team spend 80% of their time visibly working in your neighbourhood
* you can make an appointment to see your local police at a time that suits you within 48 hours about non-emergency problems
 
The adverts will be coupled with a leaflet drop to more than 6m households in 60 areas across the country to provide them with information about anti-social behaviour services, who to contact and how to complain if services aren’t providing what they should, as well as informing them about the Pledge.
Press release ~ Directgov: Policing Pledge ~ Policing Green Paper ~ Engaging Communities in the Fight against Crime
 
DfT: The UK’s streets & car parks could see thousands more charging points for electric & plug-in hybrid cars thanks to £30m of Government funding. Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has invited cities & businesses to join together to bid for the money which will help fund the installation of charging points on streets, car parks and in commercial, retail & leisure facilities. 
 
This initiative – called Plugged-In Places – will support the development of between 3 & 6 electric car cities & regions across the UK which will act as trailblazers for electric car technology.  The experiences of these locations will inform the future development of a national charging infrastructure. 
Press release ~ DfT: Office for Low Emission Vehicles ~ Ultra–Low Carbon Vehicles in the UK ~ Plugged-In Places ~ Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Grant Programme ~ Low Carbon Industrial Strategy (July 2009)
 
DFID: All Pregnant & lactating women and children under 5 in Sierra Leone will have access to free life-saving healthcare within a year, thanks to a new emergency health programme that will receive a £34m boost from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
Press release ~ DFID: Sierra Leone ~ DFID: Maternal Health
 
WAG: A new National Advocacy & Advice service for children & young people, backed with £459,850 of new Welsh Assembly Government funding has been announced.  The helpline will be available through free phone lines, free texting, e-mail & instant messaging.  The Advocacy and Advice Service will work with and compliment other advice services & helplines (such as Childline) which have a prominent safeguarding role.
 
The announcement comes on the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  At a celebratory event to mark the anniversary, the Minister also launched a major new Action PlanGetting it Right’ which sets out how the Welsh Assembly Government will make important steps to make children and young people’s rights a reality over the next 5 years in Wales.
Press release ~ WAG: Children's rights ~ Getting it right 2009
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