Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: Local Government Minister Grant Shapps and Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark have called on a new generation of councillors to ‘shake up their town halls in the interests of the people they serve and help banish the 'computer says no' culture that exists in some councils’.
Press release
 
DECC: Ministers from the British Isles, Ireland, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man recently signed up to a historic deal to cooperate on exploiting the major wind & marine resource in and around the islands. The states involved agreed to co-operate in the All Islands Approach to energy at the British Irish Council in London.
 
In practice, more interconnection between the Islands would mean that on, for instance, a very windy day in mainland Britain, surplus power could be sold to Ireland & mainland Europe, as well as enabling imports of electricity from Ireland & mainland Europe when required.
Press release ~ British-Irish Council meeting Communiqué
 
MoD: The first Community Covenant, a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its local Armed Forces Community, has been launched recently in Oxfordshire. On 16 May 2011, the Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, published the Armed Forces Covenant which outlined the moral obligation between the Nation, the Government and the Armed Forces and aims to improve support to the Armed Forces Community (which includes serving personnel, their families & veterans).
 
£30m of Government funding has been allocated over the next 4 years to support the Community Covenant scheme.  The launch of the first community scheme in Oxfordshire will be followed by launches in the Vale of Glamorgan, Hampshire and North Yorkshire over the next 2 weeks and in Portsmouth at a later date.  The intention is that as many areas as possible should adopt Community Covenants.
Press release & links
 
ScotGovProposals which could save up to £1bn over the next 5 years in public sector information and communication technology (ICT) have been published. A review of public sector ICT infrastructure carried out by John McClelland recommends an overarching national ICT strategy to address national needs and that each part of the public sector, such as universities or councils, should move to shared procurement and use of ICT. 
Press release & links
 
CLG: Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has encouraged aspiring first-time buyers across the country, to come forward for new Government help to get a foot on the property ladder. The Minister launched the new FirstBuy scheme, specifically designed to help those struggling to buy their first home due to the need for large deposits.
 
He confirmed that over 100 housebuilders will take part by offering their new-build homes to first-time buyers. Through FirstBuy, the Government & housebuilders together will offer a 20% equity loan, which alongside a 5% deposit from the buyer will enable them to take out a 75% mortgage on the rest of the property.
 
FirstBuy will help over 10,000 first time buyers in England over the next 2 years, with up to £500m being available across the UK. Loans will be repaid on resale of the property, with the Government's share available for reinvestment in more affordable housing.  The first homes are expected to come on stream in September 2011.
Press release ~ FirstBuy
 
FSA: The Bank of England (the Bank) and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have published a joint paper ‘The Bank of England, Prudential Regulation Authority – Our approach to insurance supervision’ setting out the current thinking on how the future Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) will approach the supervision of insurers.  A companion paper was published in May 2011 to cover the PRA’s approach to supervising deposit-takers.
Press release & links
 
DefraInnovative local solutions to accelerate recycling rates & reward people for doing the right thing will be given a Dragon’s Den-style kick start under new plans. As announced in the Government’s waste review, published last week, Defra will provide up to £2m over the next 3 years to help fund the best new local projects that look into fresh ways to help people recycle more & produce less waste.  
Press release & links
 
DCMS: More than 1,000 budding sports stars across Hertfordshire competed in their first School Games Festival last week recently.  The event is part of a new exciting opportunity to encourage young people to play more competitive sport in school and leave a lasting sporting legacy from London’s Olympics.
 
The Hertfordshire Festival is one of 9 pilot events taking place across the country this summer ahead of the launch of the new national School Games competition in September 2011.  The new competition will use the inspiration of 2012 to get more young people playing competitive sport, and will build up to a national final in the Olympic Stadium in May 2012. 
Press release & links
 
CLGCouncils could save £10bn every year if they improve the way they buy, source and pay for goods & services new research reveals. New, cutting edge analysis of council spending data by procurement experts Opera Solutions has revealed that ‘greater transparency coupled with improved analysis is the key to unlocking massive savings by driving down costs’.
Press release & links
 
DWP: The Government will not introduce legislation to override pension scheme rules, Pensions Minister Steve Webb confirmed recently, when responding to a consultation which sought views on the impact of using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) for private sector occupational pension schemes. Research by the DWP, reveals that out of those pension schemes that have rules referencing RPI, but could move to CPI, the majority say they wouldn’t.
Press release & links
 
DWPLocal communities will be at the heart of re-designing local welfare services, according to evidence published by the Government last week. As part of the Welfare Reform Bill, funds for Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for general living expenses will be transferred to Local Authorities and devolved administrations by April 2013.
 
The Department for Work and Pensions’ response to a Call for Evidence on how to deliver and design new local services has revealed huge scope for innovation and creativity’The report also contains new information about the current scheme that will help local authorities in developing their plans, including for the first time local authority level social fund data.
Press release & links
 
BISEquity investment needs to be recalibrated to support the long-term interests of companies and underlying beneficiaries such as pension fund members, Business Secretary Vince Cable said last week, as he launched an independent review into UK equity markets.
 
Another area where the Business Secretary wants to see progress is in bringing excessive, unjustified pay under control.  Next month BIS will be launching a consultation on changes to company reporting that will propose tougher provisions on disclosure of executive pay and its link to company performance.  

The Business Secretary will also be holding talks with relevant parties and remuneration committee chairs in the next few weeks to explore various policy options, with a view to announcing further action in the autumn.
Press release & links ~ The Kay Review: terms of reference ~ A long-term focus for corporate Britain
 
ScotGov: A programme that has encouraged thousands of parents to play, talk & read more often with their children will be rolled out throughout Scotland over the coming year. The Play, Talk, Read campaign - part of the Scottish Government's renewed focus on the early years of children's lives - builds on the campaign's success over the past two years.
 
The national drive - which includes TV adverts, a one-stop website for parents of young children and provides free items to help children's learning and development - is aimed at helping parents stimulate their children from birth through low-cost, fun activities.
Press release & links
 
WAG: Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, has announced that there will be a review of the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB in Wales. This review is part of the Government commitment made to take a science-led approach to evaluate & review the best way of tackling bovine TB.
Press release & links
 
BIS: Business Minister, Mark Prisk, has outlined ‘how Government and the construction industry will work together to decarbonise the built environment by 2050.  The joint Government and industry action plan sets out our low carbon construction strategy, as well as action already taken this year. 

The plan is the Government’s response to the industry’s Innovation Growth Team report, presented by Government Chief Construction Advisor Paul Morrell in November 2010.
Press release & links ~ CBI comment ~ Government’s response to the Low Carbon Construction Innovation and Growth Team Report
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