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WGPlus provides an in-depth weekly briefing from the UK Government and Public Sector. To save your time, we research & validate the links to websites, documents and further background information. Click here for more about WGPlus

In the News

WAG:  Scottish Devolution / Independence is ‘not the only game in town’ - The Welsh Government’s vision for Wales’ long term constitutional future within a devolved UK has been unveiled by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones.
In a submission to the UK Government’s Commission on Devolution in Wales (The Silk Commission), the First Minister is calling for Welsh devolution to be ‘enhanced & restructured through a new Government of Wales Act in order to strengthen accountability, and reduce the scope for conflict between the Welsh & UK Governments’.

The new settlement would replace the present ‘conferral model’ of devolution,  whereby powers are devolved to Wales on specific matters, with a ‘Reserved powers’ model,  where specific areas of responsibility such as constitutional affairs, defence, foreign affairs, social security & macro-economic policy would be ‘reserved’ to the UK Parliament, with remaining matters devolved to Wales.
Press release & links ~ Key financial reform discussions continue ~ The Future of the Union: Wales ~ Timeline ~ History of Devolved Government in Wales ~ UK Government welcomes report on Welsh fiscal devolution ~ Governments reach new agreement on Welsh funding ~ Welsh Devolution: The reluctant Dragon ~ Scottish independence: Wales and Northern Ireland make unity plea ~ Scottish Independence - Could Wales Be Next To Demand A Vote For Freedom From The English? ~ Welsh First Minister sets out his vision of a ‘new’ United Kingdom ~ IPPR: 79% of English voters want Scottish MPs barred from votes on English only laws ~ The dog that finally barked: England as an emerging political community  ~ Commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons established ~ England in the Union ~ BBC Soothsayer: Devolution may signal end of union - poll ~ The English Question

JRFNo need to wait for Independence to tackle poverty & social exclusion - A new report, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that, in Scotland, the number of under-25s out of work has doubled in 5 years and that a boy born in a wealthy area will live 14 years longer than a boy born into poverty.

Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Scotland 2013 is JRF’s sixth assessment of poverty in Scotland.  Built around a set of indicators and constructed using the latest, publicly available, official government data; the report assesses a wide range of indicators including unemployment, education & health.

Report author, Tom MacInnes said: “With the political debate dominated by the referendum on independence, it’s important to point out that the issues that are central to tackling poverty, such as health, childcare, schools and housing fall within current legislative powers of the Scottish Government”. …..
Press release ~ Monitoring poverty & social exclusion in Scotland 2013 (see also ‘Related Content’) ~ Voices of people experiencing poverty in Scotland ~ Child poverty in Scotland: taking the next steps ~ ScotGov: Health of mothers improving ~ Help for Scotland’s poorest families ~ CPAG: Scotland ~ Poverty Alliance Scotland ~ Tackling Poverty in Scotland ~ Scotland’s Health Improvement Agency ~ Inclusion Scotland ~ Scotland Institute ~ Audit Scotland - Resources need to be better targeted to help address Scotland’s long-standing health inequalities ~ Health inequaliti4es in Scotland (scroll down to third report) ~ Tackling fuel poverty ~ Government commits to £7.45 Scottish Living Wage ~ Rural healthcare ~ Early Years Collaborative  ~ Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2012 ~ Scottish Health Survey report on equality ~ Demos: 24,000 Scottish families face severe disadvantage ~ ‘A Wider Lens’ report ~ Healthcare across the UK: A comparison of the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ~ Audit Scotland - Social care in Scotland needs to be better planned and organised  ~ Commissioning Social Care ~ IFS:  The better off can cut back on expensive luxuries, but for the poor that is often not an option
UKOCBasic maths can help ensure you get best value when shopping - As part of the Start something campaign, The Sunshine Centre, a UK online centre on Eldon Road, Banbury has been including household math skills in it’s regular Family Fun Day to show parents who might be nervous with numbers that its easier than they think to get their head around sums. 

From adding up the weights of different fruit & veg to looking at shapes & sizes to figure out the best way to pack their shopping, they’ve been finding that maths can help with lots of everyday tasks.  Sites like Learn my way and BBC Skillswise are perfect because you can practice at home until it sinks in. They’re really easy to use and you get instant feedback, so you know how you’re doing.
CO:  Investing in Society - A new report that presents perspectives on best practice in social investment was launched last week.  It arises from a symposium set up last year by Saїd Business School and the Cabinet Office’s Centre for Social Impact Bonds.

Drawing together insights from over 10 countries, the report provides ‘a valuable snap-shot of the status of social investment innovation and highlights a range of issues in the development of the social investment market’.
Press release & links ~ Cabinet Office: Social Impact Bonds ~ Social Action Fund-backed project helps raise profile of philanthropy among young people ~ Social entrepreneurs win big Lottery backing ~ Promising social ventures to receive £1m in Government funding boost ~ £10 million social incubator fund launches ~ Social Enterprise Investment Fund to re-open for applications ~ Art bodies target social investment ~ £3.1m from dormant bank accounts invested in Big Society projects ~ EU News: New measures to stimulate funding for social businesses ~ Big Society Bank launched ~ Big Society Bank could back social ISAs for everyday savers ~ Maria Miller: Philanthropy will help secure the future of the arts

HMRC:  Money back from Taxman is usually ‘too good to be true’ - Taxpayers reported almost 80,000 tax rebate phishing emails last yearHM Revenue and Customs revealed recently, as they warned people not to fall victim to the email scams sent by fraudsters.  The emails promise a tax refund in exchange for personal, credit card or banking details.  

Emails often link to a clone of HMRC’s genuine website to trick unsuspecting taxpayers into handing over their details, but HMRC never sends emails about a genuine tax rebate.  

The scam email often begins with a sentence such as ‘we have reviewed your tax return according to our calculations of your last years accounts a tax refund of XXXX is due.’  Legitimate tax rebate forms (P800s) from HMRC will contain a payment order and will never ask for credit or debit card details.
MoD:  Help spread the celebrations across the UK - Communities across the UK are invited to apply for funding to host events to celebrate this year's Armed Forces Day on 29 June 2013, to be held in the city of Nottingham.
Forthcoming event: Gartner Business Process Management Summit, 13 – 14, March 2013, London - Aspire, Challenge, Transform: Driving Breakthrough Business Performance - Europe's premier gathering of Business and IT leaders charged with performance improvement and business transformation. Key topics include:


• Making BPM part of your strategic plan
• How BPM can enable transformational change
• The convergence of cloud, mobile, social and information with BPM
• How to establish process ownership and effective governance

• Process intelligence and the role of the iBPMS


This Summit will help you to advance your knowledge base and skills, show you the best practices and real world examples of how to overcome your challenges and most importantly, how to achieve dramatic business performance improvements.


Click here to view the full agenda and register by simply following the link below (Public sector pricing available)

Latest Case Study: Teachers' Pensions Passes Performance Management Exam - It was 2011 and despite being one of the UK’s largest public sector schemes, Teachers’ Pensions (Department of Education) was held back in delivering its promises for improvements to scheme administration by old-style operational behaviours and procedures.

The Challenge - The challenge was to streamline processes, introduce much-needed metrics, overhaul performance management and quality components, and fundamentally change the day-to-day operating models and working patterns within an area of the business employing 160 people that supports 1.6 million members. Measurable benefits include:

•   Significant capacity was created to free resource for other value-adding work including improved communication with scheme members and clients
•   Frameworks using consistent transparent management information, metrics and KPIs were introduced
•   Process redesign to remove non value-add activity
•   Increased amounts of enquiries are now completed within the contact centre, reducing avoidable contact and eradicating customer delays

Click here to receive the full case study to find out more.


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the
Newsletter Archive

General News

TfLLondon Overground passengers are now WiFi-connected at 50 stations on the Capital's orbital rail network, with the final 7 stations covered by the end of June.

The free service, from Wi-Fi provider The Cloud, will allow passengers to use their mobile devices to browse the internet, use social networks & get free, real-time travel information from Transport for London.  The first 60 minutes are free.
FSCS: More than 2,100 members of the failed Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Credit Union will get their money back by the end of this week, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme declared recently.  FSCS is acting to protect the members of the credit union with 5 branches in Cornwall which closed for business on Friday 15 February 2013.
The credit union members will not have to lift a finger to get their money back, says FSCS. The process is automatic and the Scheme aims to start sending payments to people in the next few days. FSCS protects consumers when UK regulated banks, building societies or credit unions go bust.  It has come to the aid of more than 4.5m people, paying out £26bn since 2001.
WAG: Environment Minister John Griffiths has approved a Welsh Government grant of £6m to fund the second phase of coastal protection works at Colwyn Bay. Once completed, this scheme will protect the town of Colwyn Bay, including over 180 properties, the A55 Expressway and North Wales Coast Railway.
Colwyn County Borough Council has developed a long term sustainable coastal defence strategy for the town’s seafront.  Plans include an iconic new water sports facility to support tourism & benefit the local community. This phase of the works involves bringing in over 300,000 cubic metres of sand to raise beach levels west of the water sports centre and placing rock at the base of the seawall the east.
FSA: The Food Standards Agency has expanded its UK-wide survey of food authenticity in processed meat products being carried out through local authorities.  The survey, expanded to ensure that a wider range of products are sampled, will include a total of 514 products.  

The sampling for the first two phases will be carried out by 28 local authorities and will include beef-based foods that are sold pre-packed, or 'loose' (for example, cafe sandwiches).
WAG: Equalities Minister Jane Hutt has announced over £74,000 for projects across Wales being held to mark International Women’s Day (8 March 2013).  The theme for International Women’s Day in Wales this year is ‘Visible Women: Empowering girls and women in Wales’.  
GPS: The Government Procurement Service has announced that a new Estates Professional Services framework has been awarded and will go live on 1 April 2013.  It will provide professional property related services enabling customers to reduce their property costs, release unwanted property assets, and identify savings & opportunities to generate income from land & buildings.
FSA: Further batches of Loch Arthur Creamery cheese are being recalled because of confirmation that they contain high levels of Listeria monocytogenes..  The Food Standards Agency is issuing an updated Product Recall Information Notice.
FSA: Testing carried out by Powys County Council, as requested by the Food Standards Agency, has shown that 3 samples of beef burger products made by catering supplier, The Burger Manufacturing Company, have tested positive for at least 1% horse meat.  In line with good practice, BMC is withdrawing these products.
TNA: A collection of The National Archives' historical criminal records from England & Wales is now available online as part of a licensing partnership with family history website,  The first set of documents, comprising 518,000 records from 1817-1931, went online last week and the remaining records will be published on in the coming months.
Once complete, more than 2.5m records spanning over 150 years from 1770 to 1934 will be searchable online, providing family & social historians with an invaluable new resource.  All the records will be free to search and can be downloaded FREE of charge in TNA reading rooms at Kew, or at home for a small fee.
SOCA: Thousands of members of websites dedicated to online crime have been targeted by an ongoing SOCA-led operation. The websites targeted have been shown to be solely concerned with online criminality, including the trading or criminal use of stolen bank card data & sensitive personal information.
To help prevent progression into serious criminality, SOCA has contacted individuals who have expressed an interest in carding & other sites, either by direct email messaging or a personal visit to addresses throughout the UK.

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: The government has recently published a report providing an overview of responses to the consultation on strengthening the NHS Constitution. Further information about the government’s response will be available when the updated constitution is published by April 2013.
DH: The NHS Information Service for Parents, an online service for help & advice about all aspects of parenthood, was this month extended from covering pregnancy and the first 6 months, to now giving relevant information on bringing up babies up to 9 months old.  By April 2013 it will also cover children up to 18 months of age.
WAG: Two reports commissioned by the Welsh Government to better understand the impact of the welfare reforms show that the changes to the UK welfare system announced prior to last December’s Autumn Statement will reduce total benefit & tax credit entitlements in Wales by around £590m in 2014-15.  Additional cuts announced in the Statement mean losses will be even higher than this.
DfETeachers & special educational needs (SEN) support staff will be able to bid for funds from the scheme worth up to £2m to deepen their subject knowledge & develop their skills. The application window, which opens for three weeks from 8 April 2013, will offer funding to teachers in the four priority subjects of English, mathematics, science and SEN.
WAG: A new website which provides statistical information on every maintained school in Wales has been launched by the Welsh Government. The website,, provides an accessible, valuable information portal for parents & carers and those interested in school education statistics in Wales.
WAG: Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has outlined the Welsh Government’s priorities for tackling substance misuse between 2013-15.
The 3rd delivery plan of the Welsh Government’s 10 year Substance Misuse Strategy, ‘Working Together to Reduce Harm’, sets out the actions to be taken nationally, regionally & locally to reduce the harm caused by drug & alcohol misuse.
FCO: Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds has commented on fish stocks around South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, following Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight television program last week.


LC: In a consultation the Law Commission is asking for views on the current law on rights to light, including their creation, enforcement and extinguishment. The aim of the Law Commission’s project is to examine the balance in the current law between the rights of landowners and the public interest in accommodating appropriate development, and the efficient use of land. Consultation closes on 16 May 2013.
DWP: Ministers have recently announced the publication of the Universal Credit Local Support Services Framework, the result of careful & intensive working between the DWP and colleagues in the Local Government Association, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and Welsh Local Government Associations with input from Local Authority representatives.
The framework will be put in place for the introduction of Universal Credit in 2013, to help claimants who may require extra support to access Universal Credit. Comments should be sent in by 15 March 2013.
Ofcom: Ofcom has invited views on proposals regarding the ITV, STV, UTV and Channel 5 television broadcast licences. Ofcom is now working towards issuing new 10-year licences ahead of the expiration of the current licences at the end of 2014.
Ahead of the next re-licensing period, Ofcom has published 3 separate consultations, which all close on 2 May 2013:
* the programming obligations in the licences
* the proposed creation of a separate Wales licence from the Wales & West licence currently held by ITV
* the methodology by which Ofcom will determine the financial terms on which the licences will be renewed

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICEMore women can receive appropriate & timely fertility treatment such as IVF, following updated guidelines from NICE. The condition affects around 1 in 7 heterosexual couples, with both the number of people affected by fertility problems, and those seeking help for them, increasing over the past decade.
In the previous 2004 fertility guideline, NICE said that IVF treatment should not be recommended for women older than 39. Under the updated recommendations, NICE says that under certain criteria, women aged between 40 & 42 years should be offered one full cycle of IVF with or without intracytoplasmic sperm, if they have not conceived after 2 years of regular unprotected intercourse, or 12 cycles of artificial insemination where six or more are by intrauterine insemination.
LSIS: Following research into the evolving environment of the FE & Skills sector, Learning & Skills Improvement Serviceshas produced a guide called Emerging Models of Delivery across the FE & Skills sector and the accompanying Decision Makers Support Package, both of which are available to download from the LSIS website.
The two publications have been written for senior managers of colleges who are considering changing their legal structure or reviewing their vision & purpose, however, the information may be of use to other providers.
Monitor: Monitor moved a step closer to improving the pricing of NHS-funded services last week by issuing guidance to providers about how to allocate the cost of their services to individual patients. The guidance is designed to help NHS-funded providers comply with the relevant pricing elements of Monitor’s new licence when it comes into force on 1 April 2013.
LSIS: LSIS's 4th & final toolkit on quality & the learner experience is now available to download. The toolkit aims to help providers ensure a positive learner experience and refine their quality assurance procedures in relation to the 24+ Advanced Learning Loans.
In addition, new online seminars have been launched by Learning & Skills Improvement Servicesto help providers improve their understanding of the Loans - (See press release for dates & details).
HSE: The Health & Safety Executive has published new draft guidance to help employers get to grips with proposed changes to workplace first aid. 2 pieces of guidance have been published on the HSE website following a consultation on proposals to amend the First Aid Regulations (1981) and remove the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training providers.  The changes are expected to take effect on 1 October 2013, subject to final approval by the HSE Board & Ministers.
RoSPA: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has joined forces with a number of other organisations to update Road Safety: A Guide for Local Councillors in England: identifying high risk road users, common causes of accidents, and the most effective ways to stop people being killed or hurt.

It has been revised against the backdrop of significant cuts to public spending and a first rise in road deaths for almost a decade. The guide demonstrates how local authorities can continue to deliver effective road safety services by: using evidence; coordinating with other public services; designing & delivering projects in partnership, and evaluating the effectiveness of their work.
EU News: The European Commission services have published an updated guide to explain how EU rules in the fields of state aid, public procurement and the internal market apply to services of general economic interest (SGEI).  The document provides useful guidance for the provision of social services, in addition to other SGEI – See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc’ section for more information
EU News: The European Commission will not prolong or renew the current maritime guidelines, which will therefore expire on 26 September 2013   See ‘EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc’ section for more information

Annual Reports

PC&PE: The Government has failed to respond adequately to public concern over dog attacks & poor dog welfare, warns the cross-party Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee.  

The Government must ensure that the dog breeders do more to stop poor breeding practices, including of pedigree dogs.  Legislation must be amended urgently to protect the public from dangerous dogs.
ONSUnpaid carers for the sick, disabled & increasingly elderly in England & Wales have grown by 600,000 since 2001 to reach approximately 5.8m.  The study stresses that the provision of unpaid care is an important social policy issue because it not only makes a vital contribution to the supply of care, but it can also affect the employment opportunities and social & leisure activities of those providing it.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee has published its report which, on the basis of evidence from HM Treasury, examined its role & activities, including taxpayer support to the banks

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, recently said: “The Treasury acts as both the finance ministry and economic ministry. But it appears to neglect its role as finance ministry. Its own accounts are impenetrable and this committee keeps seeing instances of poor decision making by departments, which the Treasury could and should have prevented.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee publishes its 29th Report of this Session Tax Trade, Future Capital Partners and Ingenious Media on marketed tax avoidance schemes.
CIPD: Employment will continue to grow in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development / SuccessFactors Labour Market Outlook report.  

Its key indicator is the net employment balance, which measures the difference between the proportion of employers that intend to increase total staffing levels and those that intend to decrease total staffing levels. 
DWP: Figures released recently show the vast majority of parents using the Child Support Agency who are paying towards their children has jumped in recent years – and now stands at 79.5%.
AS: The Scottish Government and health boards must improve the management & scrutiny of NHS waiting lists to assure patients that they are being treated fairly.  Key aspects of the current systems are inadequate and insufficient information is recorded in patient records.
WAO‘Welsh public bodies are spending less on consultants, but cannot demonstrate value for money in how they plan, obtain and manage consultancy services’, says a report published last week by the Auditor General for Wales

The report identifies potential efficiency savings of more than £23m if all public bodies were to follow good practice.
PC&PE: The Public Accounts Committee has published its report examining the performance of the Work Programme. The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: "The Work Programme is absolutely crucial for helping people, especially the most vulnerable, get into and stay in work.
"However its performance so far has been extremely poor. The first set of data on job outcomes shows that between June 2011 and July 2012, only 3.6% of people referred to the Work Programme moved off benefit and into work, less than a third of the target of 11.9%”. ………….. "The Department must hold failing providers to account, as well as ensuring that good practice is identified and shared”.

General Reports and Other Publications

NOCity of York Council’s provision of assistance on roofing works to a vulnerable elderly woman’s home was inadequate, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin. In her report she says the Council caused the woman “a significant degree of distress and anxiety”.
FRC: The Financial Reporting Council has issued a Financial Reporting Lab (Lab) project report on Presentation of market risk disclosures.  The Lab explored investors’ views on the benefits of presenting risk developments & actions taken in the reporting period separately from policy related information, shown in an appendix. 
ScotGov: Minister for Scotland’s Languages Alasdair Allan welcomed the publication of Modern Scots Grammar: Wirkin wi Wirds to mark the 10th anniversary of the Scottish Language Dictionaries (SLD). The Dictionary of the Scots Language brings together all 22 volumes of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and the Scottish National Dictionary, providing insights into the history of Scots and the English language.

Legislation / Legal

WAG: Minister for Transport Carl Sargeant has laid the Active Travel Bill before the National Assembly for Wales. The Bill, which is a key commitment in the Programme for Government, is aimed at making walking & cycling easier and safer by requiring local authorities to plan fully integrated active travel networks.
DH: The summary of responses to the consultation on arrangements for future decision-making on the fluoridation of drinking water has been published. 

Following consideration of the responses, the department has made the policy changes in drafting the Water Fluoridation (Proposals and Consultation) (England) Regulations laid before Parliament on 19 February 2013.

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

EU News: The European Commission services have published an updated guide to explain how EU rules in the fields of state aid, public procurement and the internal market apply to services of general economic interest (SGEI).  The guide provides simple & comprehensive answers to the most frequent questions asked by public authorities, service users & providers and other stakeholders.
Originally published in 2010, it has now been revised to take account of the new state aid rules on SGEI that the Commission adopted in December 2011 & April 2012 - the so-called ‘Almunia’ Package.  

The document provides useful guidance for the provision of social services, in addition to other SGEI.  The importance of having high quality, efficient social services will be underlined by the Commission's forthcoming Social Investment Package.
ScotGov: The Scottish Government is working with the UK Government and other devolved nations to prevent Scotland losing £ms of European Structural Funds. It follows the recent agreement by the European Council on the EU’s budget for 2014-20. 
The deal, reached by the European Council – including the UK - would mean that structural funds budgets will be allocated on a new formula, which in the UK favours densely populated regions

The UK’s overall allocation for 2014-20 would fall by approximately 6%.  However, initial calculations suggest that Scotland could face a drop of over 30% - a cash terms fall of around €300m.
EU News: The foreign affairs committee said accession talks with Iceland should be completed as soon as both sides are ready, in a vote on Tuesday on Iceland's progress towards joining the EU.  It welcomed the opening of 21 chapters in the negotiations but would have preferred all to be opened.
MEPs believe that EU accession would enhance Iceland's role in Northern Europe & in the Arctic and at the same time boost the European position in efforts to find sustainable policy solutions for the Arctic region.
EU NewsFisheries Committee MEPs backed a proposed ban on discarding unwanted fish of 35 species caught in the Skagerrak (between the North Sea & the Baltic) in a vote last Tuesday.  The ban, totake effect gradually between 2014 & 2016, would be enforced with a remote electronic monitoring system.

The discard ban regulation would oblige fishing vessels to land all caught fish in order to halt ‘discards’ - the practice of throwing fish back into the sea, usually because they are of an unwanted species or size.  Most discarded fish die, which is wasteful & aggravates overfishing.
EU NewsVictims of violence, in particular domestic violence, will be able to count on EU-wide protection.  Last week, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached a political agreement in principle on a proposal by the European Commission for an EU-wide protection order.  
The agreement means women who have suffered domestic violence will be able to rely on a restraining order obtained in their home country wherever they are in the EU.  Such protection is in particular vital for many women in Europe: around 1 in 5 have suffered physical violence at least once in their life, according to surveys.
EU News: The European Commission will not prolong or renew a set of specific guidelines on the application of EU antitrust rules (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU) to maritime transport services.  The current maritime guidelines will therefore expire on 26 September 2013.
EU News: The next batch of EU economic governance legislation should do more to deliver growth and the European Commission's new powers to vet Eurozone countries' budgets will be better democratically controlled, thanks to a draft ‘two-pack’ deal struck by EP and Council negotiators last week. It also lays down clear rules for countries seeking EU financial help.

The deal must now be approved by Parliament as a whole.  A vote is expected to take place in the second week of March
 and the rules will enter into force shortly thereafter. The texts of the legislative proposals lay down detailed procedures for persuading member states to amend their national budgets in line with Commission recommendations.
EU News: The European Commission is proposing to open domestic rail passenger markets to competition by 2019 to complete the European railway market.  Views differ amongst transport committee MEPs, with fears that unprofitable lines will be closed down.
EU News: Recently, the European Commission called on Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland & Portugal to take action to address deficiencies in the implementation of EU legislation concerning the welfare of animals, and specifically to implement Directive 2008/120/EC which requires that sows are kept in groups during part of their pregnancy.
EU News: Recently, the European Commission has decided to refer the UK to the EU Court of Justice for its reduced VAT rate on the supply and installation of energy-saving materials.  This measure goes beyond what is allowed under the VAT Directive.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

10DS: As this year's Red Nose Day single with One Direction was revealed for the first time, the Government confirmed it will hand back the VAT on sales of the single to Comic Relief. The single ‘One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)’ is a mash up of Blondie and The Undertones 1978 hits. Red Nose Day is on Friday 15 March 2013.
BHF: A British Heart Foundation’s survey shows that ‘long working hours, children, marriage and a lack of funds prompts fitness decline’ - but BHF are urging the UK to get up & get on their bikes for London to Brighton 2013. The survey also found that most Brits felt their optimum age for physical fitness was 26, and the age at which they aspire to stay physically active until is 56 years old.
BHF's upcoming London to Brighton bike ride opens for registration on Saturday 2 March 2013 and the BHF are hoping that people across the UK will sign up & improve the physical habits of the nation. You can join over 27,000 cyclists and ride the 54-mile route on Sunday 16 June 2013

The ride is for anyone of any fitness & ability so sign-up to register your interest and raise funds that will help the BHF continue its lifesaving work into the fight against heart disease.
DUKDiabetes UK is pleased to announce the launch of the Android version of their award-winning Diabetes Tracker App.  The app allows users to log & track a range of vital data, including blood glucose levels, insulin & carbohydrates, to share it with their healthcare professionals and visualise their results across days & weeks.
CO5 innovative programmes that get volunteers involved in solving some of the biggest social challenges – from combating isolation in old age to helping young people get jobs – will receive follow-on funding from the Innovation in Giving Fund. The Fund is run by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, and funded by the Cabinet Office.
Alongside this, as part of the commitment in the Giving White Paper: One Year On update, the CO is also announcing its plans to launch a new Centre for Social Action in April 2013.  Over 2 years the CO will invest around £36m to support organisations who want to mobilise people to take part in social action.

Business and Other Briefings

HMRCPeople who sell directly to customers and who haven’t paid all the tax they owe have less than a week left to take part in an opportunity offered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to get their tax affairs in order, on the best terms available.

Direct sellers - sometimes called agents, consultants, representatives or distributors - must tell HMRC about the tax due, and make arrangements to pay, before 28 February 2013.
BIS: The government has urged firms across the country to apply for a share of £350m as the deadline for Round 4 of the Regional Growth Fund looms closer. This round will close to applications at noon on 20 March 2013 and bids will be appraised as quickly as possible.
CCCompetition in the audit market is restricted by factors which inhibit companies from switching auditors and by the tendency for auditors to focus on satisfying management rather than shareholder needs.

This is the Competition Commission’s provisional conclusion in its market investigation into the supply of statutory audit services to large companies in the UK.

Industry News

BIS: Business Minister Michael Fallon recently visited an aerospace firm in Rochester that has secured just over £1m from the government’s Regional Growth FundAeromet, which produces aluminium castings for the aerospace industry, will use the funding for a R&D project to exploit new technologies for its patented aluminium alloy A20X.  
Research into the alloy A20X - the strongest cast aluminium alloy available commercially – will help to provide a more cost effective & versatile way to produce aluminium components and explore its use within aerospace & other sectors such as defence, renewables and the automotive markets.  

Above all it is hoped that the research will improve efficiency by reducing the weight of individual components and reducing overall emissions in transportation costs.
ScotGov: More than £540k of funding has been awarded to Scotland’s brightest & most innovative start-ups, Finance Secretary John Swinney confirmed last week at the Scottish EDGE Awards.  

17 young Scottish businesses that have demonstrated the greatest potential to grow & succeed have secured awards of up to £50k through the Scottish Government’s Scottish EDGE fund, which aims to support & encourage entrepreneurial activity in Scotland.
BIS: As part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership, the UK aerospace industry & government have committed £3m each over 3 years to help recruit talented people who want to build careers in aerospace, but need financial backing to study at Masters level.  

A bursary will be available for students to cover the cost of tuition fees up to a maximum of £9,500.  Extra support will be available for SMEs – their employees will be eligible for a 75% subsidy towards fees.
The scheme will support the up-skilling of current aerospace employees already qualified to graduate level, and BSc students currently studying at university.  Those students will be encouraged to make direct links with aerospace businesses to undertake projects to address the challenges faced by industry, and secure opportunities for work experience & future employment. 
DSTL: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded multi-million pound research contracts to 3 QinetiQ led consortia and Niteworks to improve information superiority for operations.  

This Defence Science & Technology Laboratoryand DE&S partnership is designed to address the challenges that affect the pull through of research into capability.  These contracts will help deliver a 2-year Information Superiority for Contingent Operations (ISCO) research programme set up by Dstl.

Forthcoming Event

FRC: On 20 March 2013 the ICAEW and the FRC will be holding their event Audit Quality Forum 2013: Spotlight on audit committees from 4.30 - 8pm. 

The current changes to audit guidance announced by the Financial Reporting Council create an expectation that audit committees will achieve a step change in their reporting. This event will help audit committees plan for these changes and enable investors to have a say in what changes they would find most helpful. 
GPS: A Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been issued for a new framework agreement for Telephony Services (RM1035) and details are now available. In order to ensure supplier comments & feedback is captured & considered the Government Procurement Service is conducting a series of supplier workshops

If you would like to attend a supplier event please register before 5pm on 8 March 2013 - (See press release for dates & details).
LSIS: New online seminars have been launched by Learning and Skills Improvement Servicesto help providers improve their understanding of the 24+ Advanced Learning Loans

LSIS has introduced a series of online web seminars covering some of the most topical themes providers that have raised in relation to implementation of the loans.  These short one-hour events draw on practitioner experiences and are free for providers to join once they have registered (see press release for dates & details).
In addition, LSIS's 4th & final toolkit on quality & the learner experience is now available to download.
NE: There is still time for farmers in the South West to take advantage of this winter’s programme of FREE workshops & training events organised by Natural England’s Soils for Profit (S4P) project - (See press release for dates & details).

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