Policy Statements and Initiatives
BERR: The Government has launched 'Solutions for Business - funded by government', a national package of publicly funded business support products - 30 advice, loan and grant products & services that make up a simplified portfolio alongside their ‘common look & feel’. The products will be accessed via Business Link.
The government claims that a new Business Link Strategy Group will ensure customer input directly helps drive up Business Link performance by bringing senior business leaders into the strategic oversight of the service. All the 'Solutions for Business' products will be in place by March 2009 and are a result of a streamlining exercise (announced in 2006) whereby the government committed to reduce over 3,000 products to less than 100.
DIUS: Skills Secretary, John Denham, has announced that small businesses will be the focus of £350m of Government funds to help them train their staff. The government will deliver funding for training, with the minimum level of bureaucracy or delay. Funding will not be available for unaccredited training or where there is a statutory requirement in place for employers to ensure that their employees receive certain training (e.g. Health & Safety).
Eligible employers will be able to access training through Train to Gain for their employees, regardless of whether those employees already hold a first qualification at that level. Eligible employers will be able to access units from the QCF in a list of business critical areas that will include business improvement techniques, business systems/processes, teamworking/communications, customer service, new product design, finance & credit, cashflow & profit management and risk management.
DH: More people should have the freedom to self-refer for services such as physiotherapy and podiatry, which will further empower patients and could cut waiting times. While some Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) already take-on self-referrals, many do not and this announcement will give the green light across the profession.
Recent research carried out by the Department of Health in partnership with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) showed that self-referral to musculoskeletal physiotherapy resulted in patients accessing services quicker, being more likely to complete their course of treatment and turn up for follow up appointments. The research also showed that self-referral resulted in:
* a lower level of work absence for patients and
* a high level of satisfaction from patients, GPs and physiotherapists
Press release ~ Framing the Contribution of AHPs - delivering high quality health care ~ Self-referral pilots to musculoskeletal physiotherapy and the implications for improving access to other AHP services ~ Chief Health Professions Officer ~ Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) ~ Allied Health Professionals Federation (AHPF) ~ APH Competence Framework
DCMS: Over £4.5m will be handed out to 12 English seaside towns in the latest round of funding from the Government's Sea Change programme, which aims to reinvigorate our much-loved resorts by investment in culture and heritage. Restored promenades; spectacular beach-front redesigns and new exhibition spaces will enhance the local environment and help boost visitor numbers around the coastline.
This is the second tranche of grants to be awarded in the first year of the £45m, three-year DCMS-funded programme, being led by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
Defra: Six places ranging from a residential street to an entire region of England have been named as England's first 'Zero Waste Places'. The ZWPs will aim to go as far as possible in reducing the environmental impact of waste, whether it be at home, in the workplace or in the community.
The ZWPs have been selected as demonstrators for innovative & replicable initiatives that enable waste prevention in schools, households & businesses and support local authorities in taking leadership reducing the overall environmental impact of waste. The scheme is being managed on behalf of Defra by the BREW Centre for Local Authorities.
Press release ~ BREW Centre for Local Authorities ~ Defra - Waste Strategy ~ Defra – Recycling and Waste ~ Zero Waste Places Initiative
Cabinet Office: The Government has announced plans to create a new Third Sector skills body which will identify & address skills gaps and shortages for charities, voluntary groups, social enterprises and other third sector organisations.
It will pull together the work of the sector skills councils to open up learning opportunities for third sector paid and voluntary staff. It will ensure the sector's needs are properly considered in the design development of National Occupational Standards, the Design Apprenticeship Frameworks and Sector Qualification Strategies.
The Office of the Third Sector (OTS) in the Cabinet Office and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) will jointly fund the new skills body with £2.5 million over the next three years. It will be independent and directed by a board representing the sector's employers. To help the new body become established, Skills for Justice will act as an incubator.
Press release ~ Office of the Third Sector (OTS) ~ National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) ~ Skills for Justice ~
Third Sector Review ~ Occupational Standards
ScotGov: A new campaign offering hard-pressed families advice on how to cut their fuel bills and help save the planet in the process has been launched. Fronted by Mr Earth, the 'Go Greener' campaign will be using radio, tv, outdoor & online advertising to promote energy saving messages.
Launched to coincide with Energy Saving Week, it reminds people that small, simple lifestyle changes can add up to significant financial savings and safeguard the environment for future generations.
ScotGov: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has repeated his call for a Scottish pilot licensing scheme for air weapons as statistics show offences involving air weapons still account for half of all firearms offences. Mr MacAskill has written to the Home Secretary to suggest that a Scottish pilot could be based on the firearms licensing system in Ireland.
In Ireland the system is based on a simple threshold of one joule. Any weapon with a muzzle energy in excess of this is classed as a firearm and must be licensed, including air weapons and paintball guns. Those applying for a licence must prove they have a good reason to hold a weapon, including where appropriate producing proof of permission to shoot on private land from landowners.
DECC: A new scheme to train hundreds of workers from Citizens Advice Bureaux, Housing Associations, and other organisations, to help low income households get the best deal on their energy bills has been launched. The Energy Best Deal campaign is funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and is being rolled out nationally by Ofgem following a successful pilot.
Training sessions for the workers will take place across the country over the next few months. The advisors will learn about savings that people can make through switching their energy deal, either to another supplier or to their existing supplier's cheapest offer. They will also learn what help low-income customers can get from their energy suppliers and the government with their energy bills, as well as in insulating their homes and other energy efficiency measures.
Press release ~ Warm Front ~ Citizens Advice ~ Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) ~ Ofgem’s probe into the energy market ~ BBC: What the energy market probe means for you
DWP: A new pilot aimed at helping the parents of children in poverty get into work, has been launched in 10 Local Authorities (30 from January 2009). Parents will have access to Jobcentre Plus personal advisers in Children's Centres to help them access work focussed services.
As well as testing the impact of putting a full time Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser into children's centres across ten Local Authorities, the pilot will also test what other support may help parents move into employment. The pilot will complement the existing initiative of providing tax credits advice through Children's Centres, which is being expanded following a successful pilot earlier in the year.