Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: The Government has announced plans for involving disabled people in the implementation & monitoring of the 5-year, cross-government Independent Living Strategy. Launched in March 2008, the Strategy aims to increase choice and promote greater access to housing, transport, health, employment and leisure opportunities for all disabled people.
A consultation exercise asked for views on how best to involve disabled people in measuring progress on the Strategy. The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) not only held public consultation events, but also provided a toolkit to help disabled people's organisations hold their own consultation events.
Press release ~ Summary of the Strategy consultation responses and Government’s response ~ Expert Panel ~ Equality 2025
DH: More people being helped to stay in work rather than drifting into extended sick leave is the focal point of a package of initiatives announced by the government in the report 'Improving health and work: changing lives', in response to Dame Carol Black's report into the health of Britain's working age population.
The new measures include proposals to replace the paper-based 'sick note' with an electronic 'fit note' and pilots for 'Fit for Work' services which will support people on a period of sickness absence to return to work. The government claims that the package will support disabled people, or those who become ill, to return to, or stay in work, by helping them manage their condition and get the right help to keep their jobs.
Press release ~ Dame Carol Black – ‘Working for a healthier Tomorrow’ ~ Health Work and Well-being ~ 'Improving health and work: changing lives'
GEO: The Government Equalities Office has published a call on members of the Women's Institute to check if their local newspaper has adverts for women who may have been trafficked and forced in to prostitution. Adverts in local papers are one of the most common methods of making contact with women for sexual purposes.
Research published earlier this year showed that nearly half the adverts for women in local papers referred to them as ‘being from abroad’. The report 'Women Not for Sale' showed how small ads in newspapers can fuel demand for women trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Press release ~ Government Equalities Office ~ Women's Institute ~ White Ribbon Campaign UK ~ 'Women Not for Sale' ~ UK Human Trafficking Centre ~ Tackling The Demand For Prostitution: A Review ~ UK Action Plan on Human Trafficking ~ 'Blue Blindfold' campaign
CLG: Safer furniture and the fact that smoke alarms are now in 80% of homes are just 2 of the reasons for the halving of the numbers of accidental fire deaths in peoples homes. In 1988, there were 731 dwelling fire deaths in the UK, but since then the number has fallen below 350 - the lowest for nearly 50 years.
This reduction in fire deaths is down to a number of factors, most notably the fire furniture regulations, the Government's ongoing media campaign and innovative prevention activity by local Fire & Rescue Services. 2008 marks the twentieth anniversary of the ground-breaking Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations, which were brought in to reduce the rising numbers of deaths & injuries suffered in fires started in upholstered furniture in the home, often through a dropped cigarette.
Press release ~ Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations ~ Directgov – Fire Kills ~ Fire safer cigarettes
DfT: An extra £1bn will be invested in major transport projects next year to stimulate the economy by accelerating Government plans to cut congestion and significantly increase rail capacity, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has claimed.
The schemes announced form part of a longer-term approach to transport planning outlined by the Government in October last year, in response to the Eddington Study and Stern Review. Delivering a Sustainable Transport System, published last week, explains how the Government is putting its approach into action.
Press release ~ Delivering a Sustainable Transport System ~
Eddington Study ~ Stern Review ~ Towards a Sustainable Transport System (Oct. 07) ~ 2007 Rail White Paper
CLG: The Government has announced new powers to tackle the local impacts of the credit crunch. The reforms are intended to make it easier for action to be taken at every level to boost jobs & skills, support businesses and make sure that all areas are making plans for recovery from the economic slowdown.
The announcement follows a public consultation on some of the commitments outlined in the Sub National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration (SNR) in July 2007. Government will legislate on these powers at the earliest opportunity.
Press release ~ BERR – original consultation and related documents ~ Government response to Prosperous Places: Taking forward the Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration ~
CLG – Sub-national review
WAG: Minister for Social Justice & Local Government Dr. Brian Gibbons has announced funding of over £1.5m to support organisations tackling domestic & sexual abuse. Speaking on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, he explained that the Domestic Abuse Grant Scheme provides capital funding to support organisations that offer advice and support to victims of domestic & sexual abuse.
The grant scheme will fund the development of specialist domestic abuse One-Stop Shops and the enhancement of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) across Wales, which offer victims a place where they can receive medical care, psychological counselling, legal advice and other support, from professionally trained staff.
Press release ~ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women ~ WAG – Domestic Abuse ~ Domestic Abuse Guidance: Supporting People & Multi-Agency Working ~ Rape Crisis ~ National Service Guidelines on developing SARCs ~ Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline ~ Welsh Women’s Aid
HM Treasury: The Government announced a package of support for financial stability on 8 October 2008 and set out how it would apply to individual banks on 13 October and 18 November 2008. It made further announcements in the Pre-Budget Report on arrangements to work with the banking sector. This press statement provides an update on ongoing elements of this work.
NE: More than 100 of England’s most treasured landscapes containing our threatened wildlife and valuable heritage - including Darwin’s back garden, the setting for Brideshead Revisited and Britain’s oldest road - will be the focus of targeted conservation effort delivered through green farming schemes, under a new approach to environmental farm payments announced by Natural England.
Farmers and land managers in 110 different areas across England will be encouraged to co-ordinate conservation work across large areas, by undertaking similar environmental activities on their land through Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) schemes. The target areas across England cover over 4.8m hectares, an area one third of England’s total land area; equivalent to 30 times the size of Greater London.
CLG: The national case for the new linked network of control centres for the Fire and Rescue Service (F&RS) has been laid out by the Government. The Government is also committed to making payments to FRS for net additional costs they incur directly as a result of helping to set up the new network, which will be operational from spring 2012. It will replace 46 standalone control rooms that are unable to automatically back each other up and operate disparate systems.
Following initial discussions with representatives of England’s F&RS, as well as the main contractor and the Firelink radio communications project, the Department has also published a revised timetable for the change over to the new network.
Press release ~ Minister’s statement on FiReControl ~ Firelink radio communications project ~ CLG - FiReControl project ~ Functionality in the current control systems
CLG: The Thames Gateway is in a strong position to weather the current economic storm and grow in the long term, Thames Gateway Minister Margaret Beckett has announced in a major speech. At the Thames Gateway Forum in East London, the Minister set out new measures to further boost the region, ‘transforming it into a world-leading eco-region that will make it a showcase for sustainable living’.
A proposed ‘eco-quarter’ is the centrepiece of a new 47-point strategy that ‘will ensure economic development and regeneration creates a greener way of life for residents’. The strategy is being accompanied by up to £35m being awarded to create green and open spaces throughout the Gateway as part of the Parklands programme.
Press release ~ Thames Gateway Forum 2008 ~ Achievements since the Delivery Plan ~ Parklands Vision of the Gateway ~ Thames Estuary Path ~ CLG - Thames Gateway ~ London Thames Gateway Housing Sites Database ~ London Thames Gateway Development Corporation ~ Thames Gateway London Partnership
MoJ: Fixed targets for outsourcing work to private companies, voluntary groups and public service organisations by the probation service have been scrapped. All 42 probation areas in England & Wales will now use a Best Value model (as used by local government bodies) when awarding contracts, in order to ensure best value for the taxpayer.
The decision to introduce the ‘Best Value’ model was introduced through parliament in the Offender Management Act last year and the decision of how it would work was decided after a public consultation which ended in July. All probation areas are expected to be applying the model by April 2010.
CLG: Local Government Minister John Healey has published the annual settlement for local government. As part of this, the Government also announced the Supporting People Programmefunding of £1.66bn will continue to be paid as a named grant in 2009-10, but will be unringfenced. Local government is expected to make the same 3% annual efficiency improvements as the rest of the public sector.
Many local authorities were among those affected by the failure of Icelandic banks in October. Mr Healey has announced an exceptional practical measure so that authorities will not need to make provision in their budgets for 2009-10 for any possible loss on these investments. This will give them time to adjust their medium term financial plans and be clearer about recovering their money before making decisions which affect their budgets or council tax.
Press release ~ Further Press release on Supporting People programme ~ Supporting People Programme ~ Local Government Finance settlement ~ New efficiency savings ~ Housing, care, support: a guide to integrating housing-related support at a regional level
DECC: As three new Acts of Parliament go on the statute book (Climate Change, Energy and Planning Bills), householders & drivers are being challenged to save energy and cut their carbon emissions under the Government's ACTON CO2 People Power challenge.
The challenge will follow volunteers from Newcastle, Portsmouth and Birmingham as they attempt to reduce the energy they use in their daily lives, with a dedicated website tracking their progress, sharing their tips and comparing success between the three cities.
Press release ~ ACT ON CO2 People Power challenge ~ Defra - Climate Change Act 2008 ~ Department of Energy and Climate Change
Cabinet Office: The UK Government and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have reached agreement on a UK-wide approach to marine planning, following discussions in the Joint Ministerial Committee and the further negotiations it put in place. As part of the agreement, more functions will be devolved to Scottish and Welsh ministers.
Marine planning and nature conservation zone powers will be devolved for the offshore area adjacent to Scotland. In addition the Bill will provide for the creation of a Welsh zone for fisheries and ensure that the National Assembly for Wales has the competence to legislate for the establishment of a route around the Welsh coast and for public access to land at or near the coast for recreational purposes.
Press release ~ Joint Ministerial Committee ~ JNCC - UK Marine and Coastal Access Bill ~ Defra – Marine Bill ~ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - Draft Marine Bill: Coastal Access Provisions
HO: The next phase in a billboard campaign in London featuring young people standing together against knife crime has been unveiled. The interactive campaign will run throughout the next 3 months in urban & residential areas across England & Wales, including the ten areas involved in the Tackling Knives Action Programme.
Young people are being encouraged to show their support by adding their own anti-knife photo pledges to the Bebo website. Their images have been included on the latest versions of the posters in the series.
Press release ~ Bebo – It doesn’t have to happen ~ Tackling Knives Action Programme ~ Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines – knife crime ~ Gangs: You and Your Child ~ Association of Chief Police Officers ~ Mothers Against Violence ~ Talk about Knives
HO: Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has claimed that the responses to the Policing Green Paper revealed the police and public have strongly backed new Government measures to cut red tape, introduce a new national Policing Pledge and give local people a greater voice in how crime is tackled in their neighbourhoods. They also showed a strong endorsement for high quality customer service from police.