Policy Statements and Initiatives

BIS: Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the first steps in creating a Government-backed business bank, including new Government funding of £1bn.   It will aim to attract private sector funding so that when fully operational, it could support up to £10bn of new & additional business lending.

The Government will build a single institution that will address long-standing, structural gaps in the supply of finance (identified in Tim Breedon’s report on non-bank finance). It will bring together in one place Government finance support for SMEs.  It will also control the Government’s interests in a new wholesale funding mechanism which will be developed to unlock institutional investment to benefit small businesses.
Press release & links ~ TUC response ~ CBI response ~ iea comment
DfE: England’s most disadvantaged pupils are to benefit from extra cash next year when the Pupil Premium rises to £900 per pupil – around 50% higher than last year. Schools receive extra cash through the premium for every child registered as eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the past 6 years and children in care who have been looked after for 6 months.
Press release & links ~ CBI comment
HMT: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has made a number of announcements about action the Government is taking to tackle tax avoidance.   
Press release & links
DH: £1.5m has been identified to support the potential roll-out of personal health budgets to help individuals choose the most appropriate care for them. Personal health budgets give patients real control & choice, by ensuring that care is tailored to meet their health & care needs.

A pilot programme involving over 60 PCTs is currently underway across the country to understand how these budgets can benefit those who need them most, what they could be spent on and how best they should be implemented. The evaluation of the pilots is due in the autumn.
Press release & links
DCMS: The best ways of making electronic books available through public libraries in England will be examined, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced.  A panel will consider issues such as the benefits of e-lending, current levels & expected future demand, and possible consequences for libraries, publishers and the public.
Press release & links
ScotGov: A new £10m fund aims to deliver hundreds of eco-friendly homes and bring down heating bills. The announcement of the Greener Homes Innovation Scheme follows last week's 2013-14 budget which directed investment into construction, skills and the green economy.
The scheme is specifically for affordable homes that employ modern, environmentally friendly methods of off-site construction. Walls, floors, pipes, kitchen and roof are assembled in a factory then transported, as a unit, to the building site, ensuring a faster construction process, reduced waste and less disruption to the environment.  

Applications for the scheme are invited from Councils, Housing Associations, Builders and Developers by 20 December 2012.
Press release & links
ScotGov: The Scottish Government’s £1.25bn will see the construction of 67 new schools built for over 46,000 pupils, in every part of Scotland, by March 2018.
An extra 12 schools will be built under the third & final phase of Scotland’s Schools for the Future, after £80m was brought forward in last week’s budget, providing top quality classrooms for an additional 26,000 pupils.
Press release & links
DECC: The Government is backing a campaign by industry & consumer groups urging householders to stock up on heating oil now
Buying oil as soon as possible before the onset of severe weather can mean a cost saving when demand is low and also means householders are guaranteed fuel during the coldest months. Householders are also being advised to shop around for the best deal by the Buy Oil Early campaign, which is being run by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer Focus, and FPS (the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers).
Press release & links
WAG: A new national programme to drive up numeracy standards in Wales’ schools has been published by Education Minister, Leighton Andrews. The National Numeracy Programme (NNP) sets out the actions that will be taken by the Welsh Government and its partners to improve numeracy standards over the next 5 years.
Press release & links
FCO: Statement of the delegation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in exercise of the right of reply to the remarks made by the Prime Minister of Spain in the general debate on 25 September 2012.
Press release & links
WAGPregnant women will be offered whooping cough vaccinations to protect their newborn babies following a rise in cases & deaths amongst young infants, Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Ruth Hussey has announced. 

The programme aims to boost the short-term immunity passed on by pregnant women to protect their newborn babies – who normally cannot be vaccinated until they are 2 months old and is due to begin in October 2012.
Press release & links ~ HPA comment
Adoption of Intelligent Automation in the Public Sector