Subscribe: Department for Culture, Media and Sport: News stories
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
government  international  new  news story  news  part  people  scheme  security  support  university  wales  work  year   
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Department for Culture, Media and Sport: News stories

Announcements on GOV.UK

Updated: 2017-12-18T12:29:55+00:00


News story: UK-China Energy Dialogue


The 5th annual UK-China Energy Dialogue has taken place in Beijing

The 5th annual UK-China Energy Dialogue took place in Beijing last week (Friday 15 December).

This year’s Energy Dialogue demonstrated the continued importance of secure, affordable and sustainable energy in the golden era of UK-China relations, and both countries continued commitment to the Paris Agreement and efforts to decarbonise our economies.

Co-chaired by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark and Nur Bekri, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and Administrator of the National Energy Administration of China, the Dialogue saw the agreement of an Action Plan to implement the UK-China Clean Energy Partnership.

Agreed in 2015 as part of President Xi’s State Visit to the UK, the UK and China’s Clean Energy Partnership MoU is underpinned by an understanding from both governments that each country’s significant experience and expertise has the potential to reduce the costs of energy, while promoting opportunities for economic growth, development of cheaper technologies, greater use of clean energy and trade in green goods

The Action Plan signals the next step in the UK-China energy relationship, by creating an agreement to facilitate extended, systematic and sustained collaboration on clean energy between both countries. It sets out future cooperation in priority areas including clean energy technologies, civil nuclear energy, power market reforms and third country activity including the Belt and Road Initiative.

Demonstrating the breadth of UK-China collaboration, the Action Plan will support further collaboration across research, development and deployment; commercialisation; policymaking and implementation; Industrial Strategy; and commercial partnerships. It will be underpinned by a forthcoming UK Energy and Low Carbon Prosperity Fund programme for China.

The Energy Dialogue was held alongside the 9th UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue co-chaired by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai, providing an opportunity to highlight the links between economic growth and a clean energy transition.

Speech: Immigration Minister: Scotland should be proud of refugee support


Brandon Lewis speaks at a Convention of Scottish Local Authorities event to mark 2 years of the vulnerable person's resettlement scheme.It’s a pleasure to be here with you all today. The past 2 years of resettlement in Scotland have been a wonderful journey and I’m so pleased to be able to share this celebration with you. Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, should be proud of the way it has welcomed some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees who have sought protection from conflict or persecution in their own countries. It was a real privilege to be able to meet some of these individuals earlier today and hear their stories. Everyone in this room has played a part in making that happen, and it’s with this in mind that I am pleased to have a chance to talk to you about 3 things today. First, I want to thank you for your support for resettlement in Scotland. Second, I will say a few words about resettlement across the UK. And finally, I will touch on how I hope you can be part of the conversation as we consider our future plans for asylum and resettlement. Resettlement in Scotland I am delighted with Scotland’s achievements so far and your continued support for refugee resettlement. I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to Scottish local authorities, COSLA, the Scottish Government and all other partners in Scotland involved in supporting resettlement. These families have been welcomed by communities in every part of Scotland. From Argyll and Bute to right here in Edinburgh, you have been providing refugees with a safe environment and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Resettlement in Scotland has been dependent on collaboration with partners from the beginning of the Scheme, and I am extremely grateful for the leadership and support that COSLA and the Scottish Government have provided so far. Across the UK, we have seen all parts of the community coming forward to resettle refugees. UK resettlement The incredible support we have seen here for refugees from Syria is present across the UK. Since the scheme began, we have resettled over 9,300 individuals across 263 local authorities. This is in addition to the thousands we grant protection to under normal asylum procedures and our other resettlement schemes. In the past year, we have also resettled over 400 at-risk children and their families through our Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. Thanks to you, these families receive a warm welcome as well as support to integrate into their new communities, including learning English and preparing for work and self-sufficiency. I ask you all to please continue your good work, as we are on track to meet our commitment to resettle 23,000 refugees by 2020. Future of asylum and resettlement As 2020 draws nearer, we must now consider what the future of resettlement should be beyond our existing commitments. Our ability to deliver resettlement depends on your continued support in offering and providing placements for these refugees. I know the challenges this can present, especially given that this is not the only scheme which requires the support and assistance of local authorities. I am very grateful for the contribution that Glasgow has made to the asylum dispersal scheme, particularly given the increased pressures in recent years. I am keen for more local authorities in Scotland to participate in the scheme. I would encourage those of you not participating to do so; we stand ready to work with you to plan how you can participate. You will also have seen the news that the National Transfer Scheme will be extended to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to allow the relevant authorities in each nation of the UK to participate and ensure it is a truly national scheme. I hope that I can count on your support for the scheme, helping unaccompanied children to get settled in the areas in which they are going to be looked after as soon as possible. As we move forward, I want us to work together as we discuss what our next steps should be. Only by taking a co[...]

News story: 200 suppliers now signing up to Contracts Finder every week


Contracts Finder - which makes it easier for small businesses to find opportunities to supply to government - is celebrating a breakthrough year of growth.

Updated: changed image

The Contracts Finder platform now has more than 22,000 registered suppliers, with almost two-thirds of them small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - a 53% increase since the beginning of this year. Around 200 suppliers sign up to use the platform every week.

The site now regularly features more contract notices than TED, the EU procurement portal.

Contracts Finder is managed by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), as part of the Cabinet Office, with the aim of increasing procurement transparency and providing more opportunities for SMEs to supply goods and services to the public sector.

Automatic email alerts are distributed to interested suppliers, with suppliers able to tailor their searches to deliver news about opportunities in their own specialism.

Caroline Nokes, Minister for government Resilience and Efficiency, says:

Contracts Finder is a great way for small and medium sized businesses to search for opportunities in central government and the wider public sector. Smaller businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and I am keen that they are able to access as many opportunities as possible, helping the Government to achieve our aspiration of spending £1 in every £3 with SMEs by 2022.

Ian Fishwick, Chief Executive of Adept Telecom, Commercial Director for Innopsis, and member of the Cabinet Office SME Panel, says:

Almost all public sector buyers are now registered to use the service including councils, emergency services, central government, universities and the NHS. We are closer than ever to having a single website where you can find the bulk of public sector tenders.

Emma Jones, Small Business Crown Representative, says:

Contracts Finder is the go-to place for SMEs to find government and public sector opportunities. More and more organisations are using it with twice as many UK opportunities published when compared with the TED website. I’d urge SMEs to log on for free and find out what opportunities are out there. We’d like to see the platform go even further and become the single location on which government’s major suppliers also list their opportunities, whilst making performance data on existing contracts more transparent.

Open Contracting

Contracts Finder supports the UK Government’s commitment to the Open Data Contracting Standard (ODCS), ensuring that all stages of the public procurement process are open and transparent.

The UK is the first G7 country to implement the OCDS for contracts administered by a central purchasing authority - CCS.

This means that the whole process of awarding public sector contracts is visible to the public for the first time. Data and documents are disclosed at all stages of the contracting process. This allows deeper analysis of contracting data by a wide range of users.

The government is currently exploring measures to further increase business with SMEs, including by asking larger suppliers to advertise subcontracting opportunities through Contracts Finder.

For more information on Contracts Finder and to sign up to alerts, visit

Press release: Ministers take action to bolster PIP services


The government has accepted the recommendations of Paul Gray's second independent review of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).As part of its ongoing commitment to strengthen its services for disabled people, the government has accepted the recommendations of the second independent review of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The review, commissioned by the government and led by Paul Gray, was published in March 2017. Action will be taken on the recommendations including simplifying communications for people claiming PIP, and exploring how to ensure evidence is collected and reviewed as effectively as possible to support people’s claims. Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton, said: We’re determined to make the PIP application process as simple as possible both for the independent assessors and the people applying for it. That’s why we commissioned the second review on top of the strong steps we’ve already taken, so we can fully understand what works best, and what we need to improve on. Working closely with disabled people and their representatives, we’ll continue to explore how to help meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. PIP was introduced to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance (DLA) system. At the core of PIP’s design is the principle that awards should be made according to someone’s overall level of need – taking into account both physical and non-physical conditions. Under PIP 29% of claimants are now receiving the highest rate of support, compared to 15% under DLA. The first independent review was published in December 2014. Since then, significant improvements have been made to the PIP assessment process including: restructuring decision letters to make them easier to understand working with the Money Advice Service (MAS) to ensure PIP claimants can get bespoke budgeting advice if they need it introducing SMS messaging to keep a claimant informed throughout the journey of their claim introducing the Video Relay Service for claimants who use British Sign Language (BSL) so they are able to communicate with the department more easily introducing the Next Generation Text (NGT) for deaf or hard of hearing claimants unable to use BSL or those unable to speak amending the PIP (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2013 by removing the requirement for DLA claimants to wait a minimum of 28 days when they transfer to PIP if they became terminally ill Assessment providers have also introduced Mental Health Champions, who are experienced professionals with direct and relevant work experience of helping people with mental health problems. About PIP and the independent review PIP is designed to help with the extra costs associated with a disability or health condition. It is not means tested and not linked to someone’s ability to work. Read the government’s response to the second independent review. Read Paul Gray’s second independent review. Contact Press Office Media enquiries for this press release: 020 3267 5125 Press Office Caxton House Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA London Press Office (national media and London area enquiries only – not questions about personal claims) 020 3267 5144 Out-of-hours (journalists only) 076 59 108 883 England and Wales (local media enquiries) 029 20 586 then 097 or 098 or 099 Scotland (local media enquiries) 0131 310 1122 Follow DWP on: Twitter – Facebook – LinkedIn – YouTube – [...]

News story: Twenty three universities join student visa pilot


Home Office to extend scheme which streamlines process for international Masters students wanting to study in the UK.

A pilot which is looking at streamlining the process for international Masters students wanting to study in the UK has been extended to an additional 23 universities, the Immigration Minister announced today.

Currently in its 2nd year with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London, the pilot will streamline the process for international students looking to study on a Masters course of 13 months or less in the UK.

It also provides greater support for students who wish to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role, by allowing them to remain in the UK for 6 months after they have finished their course.


Universities taking part are given responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications.

Applicants that do not meet immigration rules will be refused. All students will continue to require Home Office security and identity checks.

The additional 23 universities to benefit from the pilot include 2 in Scotland, 2 in Wales and 1 in Northern Ireland as well as universities from across England.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said:

I am delighted to announce the expansion of this pilot which is part of our ongoing activity to ensure that our world-leading institutions remain highly competitive.

The UK continues to be the 2nd most popular destination for international students and the number coming to study at our universities has increased by 24% since 2010.

This is a clear indication that genuine students are welcome and there is no limit on the number who can come to study in the UK.


The most recent Home Office statistics show that the number of students applying for visas increased by 8% over the past year, and there has been a 9% increase in the number of students applying to Russell Group universities.

The 23 additional universities will be able to apply the pilot to their 2018/19 intake. The universities were selected as their visa refusal rates are consistently the lowest in their area or region.

The 23 universities to be added to the pilot are:

  • Cardiff University
  • Goldsmiths University of London
  • Harper Adams University
  • Newcastle University
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  • University of Bristol
  • Durham University
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Essex
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Reading
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus)
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

News story: Essential maintenance to our online service


Issues with Companies House Service (CHS)

Updated: Possible disruption to Companies House Service

We’ll be carrying out some planned maintenance on our internal systems from 17:00 to 20:00 on 20 December 2017. CHS may be affected during this time. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Press release: Highways England is ‘gearing up’ to remove miles of roadworks in time for Christmas


Highways England is preparing to lift and complete hundreds of miles of roadworks this week in time for the Christmas getaway.Almost 400 miles of roadworks across England will be lifted and completed in December, leaving almost 99 per cent of motorways and strategic A roads roadworks-free in time for Christmas. All roadworks will be lifted or completed by 6am on 22 December until 12.01am on 2 January to help people get away this Christmas with as little disruption as possible. With the festive countdown well and truly underway, the UK’s largest coach operator National Express, has praised Highways England for its role in helping people get to their destination on time. Chris Hardy, National Express Coach Managing Director, said: We’ll be moving hundreds of thousands of passengers around the UK during the festive period, including on Christmas and Boxing Day when there are no rail services; and New Year’s Day. We work with Highways England round the year to support them in maintaining and improving the road network so that we can offer our customers a reliable and convenient service. It’s great that they’ve lifted road works during a busy time for travel, helping us to make sure we can get passengers where they want to be for Christmas. And with thoughts turning to the all-important getaway, Highways England is also calling on motorists to do their bit before getting behind the wheel. Highways England’s customer service director, Melanie Clarke, said: We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this Christmas and that’s why we’re keeping 99 per cent of the road network we manage, free from roadworks. Safety is our top imperative and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns are avoidable and these can easily be avoided with simple checks. Christmas is always a busy period on the road network and we’d urge all motorists to make sure they do their bit to check their vehicle is roadworthy before setting off over the festive period. Highways England has also launched a special festive animation which shows Santa carrying out vital checks to his sleigh before embarking on the most important journey of the year - and he’s got a little help from his festive friends including Rudolph! Some of Santa’s pre-flight checks include: checking that there is plenty of grip on his sledge – motorists should check their tyre tread to make sure it is within the legal limit making sure Rudolph’s nose is shining bright – always make sure lights on the vehicle are working correctly before setting off making sure the reindeer are full of fuel before travelling – make sure that you always keep your tank at least one quarter full to avoid running out of fuel on your journey The animation can be found online at the Highways England YouTube channel. Latest statistics from Highways England show almost half of all breakdowns are caused by basic mechanical problems which could be avoided with simple checks. Furthermore, nearly a quarter are caused by tyre problems; with more than 7,000 cases nationwide of vehicle breakdowns on the strategic road network due to lack of fuel over the course of a year. Motorists can head online to the Think website where they can watch bespoke videos showing how to carry out basic vehicle checks. Those wishing to find out more about driving on smart motorways can go to our webpage for further information. Drivers planning to use the Dartford Crossing are reminded to pay Dart Charge in advance or by midnight the day after crossing. More information can be found on our website or by calling our information line (0300 123 5000) they can keep up to date with conditions on the roads. For more detailed information on how to carry out your vehicle checks, search Think! General enquiries Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer con[...]

Press release: New floating moorings on River Great Ouse to last 50-plus years


Boaters on the River Great Ouse can now stop off at three new and improved landing stages installed by the Environment Agency.

The floating moorings replace ones on the relief channels at Stowbridge, Wiggenhall St Mary and the Denver Complex, all in Norfolk.

Expected to last at least 50 years, the new platforms feature non-slip mesh decking and galvanised steel frames.

Andy Bennison, Anglian Waterways engineer, who has managed the project said:

The existing landing stages have been taken away to be refurbished and re-used elsewhere on the River Great Ouse. The new frames and decking will improve safety, as well as look better and reduce maintenance costs.

It’s all part of our ongoing efforts to protect and improve our cherished waterways.

The work to replace the landing stages is part of the Environment Agency’s £1.4m Capital Investment Programme. Announced in November, the programme sets out the investments being made into Anglian Waterways’ 353-mile network.

Projects in the pipeline include improvements to eight locks, and take place from November to March – avoiding the peak boating season to minimise disruption for those on the river.

The Environment Agency cares for more than 353 miles of navigable waterways in the Anglian region, as well as a vast network of associated facilities such as bridges, locks, moorings and toilets.

News story: Sign up to attend the Severn Growth Summit in January 2018


The UK Government has committed to abolishing the Severn Tolls by the end of 2018. Sign up to attend the Severn Growth Summit to see how you can benefit.

The Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has announced that he will host the first cross-border, Severn Growth business summit on 22 January 2018 at the Celtic Manor Resort.

He is calling on local partners and businesses from across the South West of England and the South East of Wales to come together to explore how links between the two economies can be strengthened following the announcement of the abolition of the Severn Tolls.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

Our decision to abolish the Severn tolls sends a powerful message to businesses, commuters and tourists that the UK Government is committed to strengthening the Welsh economy.

By strengthening the links between communities in south Wales and south-west England, we will transform the joint economic prospects of both regions, creating a growth corridor stretching from Cardiff through Newport to Bristol.

I want to ensure that visitors and investors know what Wales has to offer and I want the world to know our nation is open for business.

You can sign up to attend the Severn Growth Summit here

Press release: Joint Nature Conservation Committee appointed three new independent members


The JNCC has appointed three new independent members for three years

The Government has appointed Professor Melanie Austen, Charles Banner and Professor Marian Scott as Independent Members of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The appointments took effect from 15 December 2017 for three years.

All appointments to the JNCC are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. The appointment complies with the Governance Code on Public Appointments. There is a requirement for appointees’ political activity (if significant) to be declared. The appointees have not declared any significant political activity during the past five years.

The JNCC was established in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) as a non-departmental public body. The JNCC advises the UK Government and Devolved Administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales on UK-wide and international nature conservation.

Remuneration is £9,836 per annum based on a time commitment of 2½ days per month.

Professor Melanie Austen

Melanie is a marine ecologist and interdisciplinary marine researcher who is Head of Science for the ‘Sea and Society’ science area at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. She has recently completed a 3 year term as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK’s Marine Management Organisation. For the last fifteen years she has been developing and leading UK and EU funded collaborative marine research. Through her interdisciplinary research she has examined and quantified the societal consequences and policy relevance of changes to the marine environment and its ecosystems. She has been an Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter medical school since 2014. Melanie is currently a member of UK JNCC’s South Atlantic Natural Capital Assessment Technical Advisory Group. She has previously been a member of other Expert Advisory Groups and has chaired an EU Marine Board ecosystem valuation working group.

Charles Banner

Charles is a barrister at Landmark Chambers. He was called to the Bar in England and Wales in 2004, then to Northern Ireland in 2010. He practices across both jurisdictions and internationally specialising in environment and planning law and government and regulation. In 2015 Charles became Co-founder of Landmark International establishing a bespoke platform for barristers offering their services to the international legal market. In 2016 Charles became a trustee and council member of the UK Environmental Law Association which aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve the understanding and awareness of environmental law. He has recently been announced as ‘Environment & Planning Junior of the Year’ at the Chambers Bar Awards 2017.

Professor Marian Scott

Marian is Professor of Environmental Statistics in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Glasgow; an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and a chartered statistician of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS). Marian’s research interests include model uncertainty and sensitivity analysis; modelling the dispersal of pollutants in the environment, radiocarbon dating and assessment of animal welfare. She was awarded an OBE in 2009 for services to social science.

Press release: Cardiff University and University of Wales Trinity St. David join Student Visa pilot


Welsh universities join 23-strong list of institutions taking part in UK Government programme to attract international students.A pilot which is looking at streamlining the process for international Masters students wanting to study in the UK has been extended to two Welsh universities, the Immigration Minister announced today (Monday 18 December). Currently in its second year with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London, the pilot will streamline the process for international students looking to study on a Masters course of 13 months or less in the UK. It also provides greater support for students who wish to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role, by allowing them to remain in the UK for 6 months after they have finished their course. Universities taking part are given responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications. Applicants that do not meet immigration rules will be refused. All students will continue to require Home Office security and identity checks. The additional 23 universities to benefit from the pilot include Cardiff University and The University of Wales Trinity St. David as well as two in Scotland, one in Northern Ireland and universities from across England. Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: I am delighted to announce the expansion of this pilot which is part of our ongoing activity to ensure that our world-leading institutions remain highly competitive. The UK continues to be the second most popular destination for international students and the number coming to study at our universities has increased by 24% since 2010. This is a clear indication that genuine students are welcome and there is no limit on the number who can come to study in the UK. Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan said: We welcome the opportunity to take part in the expanded Tier 4 visa pilot. Cardiff University is home to over 7,000 international students from over 100 countries, and we have seen first-hand the positive impact they have, both on our community and on the economy of Cardiff and Wales. We look forward to participating in the Tier 4 visa pilot and its evaluation to give our international students the opportunities they deserve and to strengthen our global partnerships. The most recent Home Office statistics show that the number of students applying for visas increased by 8% over the past year, and there has been a 9% increase in the number of students applying to Russell Group universities. The 23 additional universities will be able to apply the pilot to their 2018/19 intake. The universities were selected as their visa refusal rates are consistently the lowest in their area or region. NOTES TO EDITORS The 23 universities to be added to the pilot are: Cardiff University, Goldsmiths University of London, Harper Adams University, Newcastle University, Queen’s University Belfast, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of Bristol, Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of Edinburgh, University of Essex, University of Exeter, University of Glasgow, University of Leicester, University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, University of Nottingham, University of Reading, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, The University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus), University of Warwick, University of York [...]

Press release: Penny Mordaunt: Extra UK aid to help stop “human tragedy” in Yemen and prevent risk of “catastrophic famine”


During a visit to a port in Djibouti, where UK aid is shipped to Yemen, Ms Mordaunt warns of the “human tragedy” of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.The UK is providing urgent new food and fuel supplies to help keep millions of Yemeni people alive as an escalation in fighting and restrictions on aid access threaten to push Yemen into a catastrophic famine, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced today (Monday 18 December 2017). During a visit to a port in Djibouti from where UK aid is shipped to Yemen, Ms Mordaunt warned of the “human tragedy” of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with over eleven million people needing help to survive. She pledged an extra £50 million that will help feed millions of people for one month and process more lifesaving food, which is absolutely vital as rapidly diminishing supplies mean there is currently only a few months of wheat and rice left in the country. Ms Mordaunt also called for an immediate opening up of commercial and humanitarian access into Yemen during a visit to Saudi Arabia, and condemned the continued Houthi blockages in the north of the country. Today’s announcement of UK aid support will help the World Food Programme to: provide food and food vouchers for 3.4 million vulnerable Yemenis for one month – including malnourished children who are 20 times more likely to die than children who have enough to eat mill over 106,000 metric tonnes of grain into wheat flour, which will feed 6.5 million people for two months provide fuel to help make sure urgent food supplies can be delivered to those who need it most, keep hospitals running and pump clean water into major cities Speaking in Djibouti, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: The harrowing stories I have heard from Yemenis and aid workers today are a powerful reminder of the human tragedy of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis where three quarters of the population are in desperate need. Every day, parents are carrying their malnourished children to hospital because they haven’t eaten in days, and families are watching as loved ones die needlessly from treatable illnesses because they do not have access to medical care. UK aid will save lives with new food and fuel; fuel that will produce food, pump clean water to help stop the spread of cholera, and power hospital generators. Our brave British, international and Yemeni aid workers are working relentlessly to alleviate suffering in these atrocious circumstances. But humanitarian aid alone is not enough and millions of people will starve to death without commercial imports that the country depends on. That’s why the UK Government is calling on all parties to this conflict to immediately restore full access for humanitarian and commercial imports and find a peaceful solution to this conflict to stop Yemen falling into a catastrophic famine. During her visit to Djibouti – a regional processing centre for humanitarian aid and commercial supplies into Yemen – Ms Mordaunt heard harrowing stories from Yemenis who have escaped the crisis and aid workers who have been delivering life-saving food, water and medical support. Following this, Ms Mordaunt visited Saudi Arabia and met key high-level political figures where she made clear that commercial and humanitarian supplies – on which Yemen depends to meet 90% of basic needs – must be resumed and that immediate access must be granted to avert a catastrophic famine. This builds on the Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month, where she reiterated the need to ensure full access across Yemen, renewed calls for all sides to find a peaceful solution and emphasised the importance of full humanitarian and commercial acce[...]

News story: Sellafield contract win for UK firm


A UK company has won a multi-million pound deal to supply glove boxes to support nuclear clean-up at Sellafield.

Cavendish Nuclear will design, manufacture and test glove box systems in two new plants which will treat and manage nuclear materials.

Glove boxes are sealed containers designed so objects can be manipulated in an enclosed atmosphere.

The contract is worth up to £95m over 10 years.

Martin Chown, Sellafield Ltd supply chain director, said:

Safe and secure clean-up of the nuclear legacy at Sellafield is our number one priority.

Treatment and management of nuclear materials in the appropriate environment is vital.

Placing this contract with Cavendish Nuclear - a highly respected nuclear services provider – is an important step in our mission.

The company has pledged to deliver a positive social impact for our local community during the contract. I look forward to working with them to ensure this delivers the maximum possible value.

Cavendish Nuclear will now work with Sellafield Ltd to finalise details of its social impact investment.

This is expected to include a commitment to placing a significant percentage of work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and holding school workshops in Cumbria on science, technology, engineering and maths.

Ron Gorham, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) supply chain lead said:

“The expertise in the UK’s nuclear supply chain is unrivalled around the world and remains vital to delivering the NDA’s mission of cleaning up the UK’s nuclear legacy.

“The NDA is committed to working with SMEs and ensuring the benefit of every pound spent decommissioning our sites is felt within our communities.”

Paul Smith, managing director of nuclear services at Cavendish Nuclear, said:

“We are delighted to continue to support Sellafield Ltd in the delivery of this strategically important programme.

“We believe our collaborative approach to delivery is what differentiates our offer.

“Our team offers significant manufacturing capacity to meet the demands of the programme whilst also providing opportunities to share best practice across suppliers.”

News story: Want to know more about National Apprenticeship Week 2018?


The National Apprenticeship Service has launched its events map, the theme for NAW 2018 and made resources available to help stakeholders get behind the week.

The ‘apprenticeships work’ themed National Apprenticeship Week 2018 (NAW 2018) takes place from 5 to 9 March and will be a week-long celebration of apprenticeships in England - designed to showcase how apprenticeships work for individuals, businesses, communities and the wider economy.

During National Apprenticeship Week employers and apprentices from across England will come together to celebrate the success of apprenticeships whilst encouraging, even more, people to choose an apprenticeship as the pathway to a great career.

The National Apprenticeship Week events map will highlight the array of events scheduled to take place. The events map from National Apprenticeship Week 2017 held information on over 500 events, including the launch event hosted by Barclays with Secretary of State Justine Greening; an ‘apprentice take over’ event at the House of Commons with over 150 apprentices; the Skills Minister visiting Crossrail and meeting apprentices and many careers events and business breakfasts across the country.

Sue Husband, Director, National Apprenticeships Service said:

The success of National Apprenticeship Week hangs on the fantastic support we receive during each National Apprenticeship Week we’ve run. We want 2018 to eclipse previous triumphs and we would encourage apprentices, employers and our partners to join forces and help celebrate the brilliance of apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships offer real career opportunities and National Apprenticeship Week 2018 will showcase how apprenticeships work across all industries, sectors and job roles, from school leaving age to older apprentices.

There’s no better way to mark apprenticeship achievement than by the apprenticeship community coming together and shouting loudly about the difference apprenticeships are making. Please use the resources we’ve provided to develop fantastic opportunities to applaud apprenticeships during the week.

Introduction to National Apprenticeship Week 2018

This year, a stakeholder portal has been developed to host National Apprenticeship Week resources. Stakeholders can access and download materials to help us promote the week.

News story: VIDEO: A historic year at Sellafield.


This video shows the huge strides made in the clean-up mission during 2017.

Highlights included cutting holes in the world’s oldest nuclear store and bringing down the site’s tallest chimney.

Thanks to our world-class workforce and supply chain for making 2017 a year to remember…

Sellafield Ltd’s achievements 2017

News story: UK takes delivery of final F-35B Lightning this year


The UK has taken delivery of its 14th F-35B Lightning II which flew into Beaufort, South Carolina last week to take its place as part of the Lightning Fleet, set to operate from Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and RAF Marham.Operated jointly by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, the F-35 Lightning jets will be able to operate on land or embarked on the UK’s new aircraft carriers. This delivery is a significant milestone for the Lightning Programme and in particular, alongside the formal commissioning of the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier into the Royal Navy earlier this month, demonstrates the advancement towards the establishment of the UK’s Carrier Enabled Power Projection capability. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: This Christmas delivery is the 14th jet to join our fleet of fifth-generation F-35 fighters over in the US. The Carriers have taken centre-stage this year, and next year we look towards these aircraft joining us in Britain and taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s enormous deck to undertake First of Class Flight Trials. With our famous Royal Air Force coming into its 100th anniversary, the F-35 keeps us right at the cutting-edge of combat air power. Peter Ruddock, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK said: There are more than 500 UK companies in our supply chain who play a vital role in producing every F-35 and we are proud to have delivered the UK’s 14th aircraft on schedule. More than 260 F-35s are now flying from 14 bases around the world and we look forward to supporting the UK’s Lightning Force, as they prepare to bring their F-35s to the UK and achieve initial operational capability next year. There are currently some 200 British personnel based at Beaufort testing the aircraft and getting them ready to arrive in the UK next summer as 617 Squadron. Preparations are also being made for First of Class Flight Trials, due to take place on HMS Queen Elizabeth later next year. The programme is on schedule to achieve Initial Operating Capability from land next year with Initial Operating Capability Carrier Strike in 2020. In addition to its short take-off and vertical landing capability, the F-35B’s unique combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar, sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems brings all of the access and lethality capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter. The UK has taken delivery of its 14th F-35B Lightning II which flew into Beaufort, South Carolina last week. Crown copyright. In 2018, the aircraft – along with the Navy and RAF pilots and ground crew – will arrive in the UK to officially stand up at RAF Marham in Norfolk. RAF Marham will be the Main Operating Base for the Lightning Force in the UK and from here, they will deploy forward to either embark on-board our Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, or operate from Deployed Operating Bases. Following successful trials on the land based ski-ramp design which is featured on the UK flagship, and with the RAF Marham runway infrastructure completed as part of a £250m major investment programme in preparation for the F-35 arrival, Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin earlier this year announced that the F-35 was cleared for take-off. As the only level one partner on the F-35 programme, the UK has been working closely with the US from the outset. UK industry will provide approximately 15% by value of each F-35 to be built, which are due to total more than 3000 in number. The programme has already generated $12.9Bn worth of orders for the UK and at peak production the programme will support over 24,000 jobs in the UK. Some milestones reached on the F-35 programme this year include[...]

Press release: Interim report into the Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety


News release issued on behalf of the independent review into building regulations and fire safety.The Chair of an independent review into building regulations and fire safety has found that a “universal shift in culture” is required to rebuild trust amongst residents of high-rise buildings and significantly improve the way that fire safety is assured. Dame Judith Hackitt, who was appointed by government to lead an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell fire, has published her interim findings today (18 December 2017). Alongside her interim report, Dame Judith is calling on the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to address the ‘shortcomings’ identified so far. The interim report finds that: a culture change is required - with industry taking greater responsibility for what is built - this change needs to start now the current system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise buildings is not fit for purpose a clear, quick and effective route for residents to raise concerns and be listened to, must be created Chair of the review, Dame Judith Hackitt said: I have found that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is not fit for purpose. The current system is highly complex and there is confusion about the roles and responsibilities at each stage. In many areas there is a lack of competence and accreditation. While this does not mean all buildings are unsafe, it does mean we need to build a more effective system for the future. That is why I am today calling for the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to identify how to overcome these shortcomings together. The interim report sets out 6 broad areas for change: ensuring that regulation and guidance is risk-based, proportionate and unambiguous clarifying roles and responsibilities for ensuring that buildings are safe improving levels of competence within the industry improving the process, compliance and enforcement of regulations creating a clear, quick and effective route for residents’ voices to be heard and listened to improving testing, marketing and quality assurance of products used in construction Dame Judith has consulted widely in developing her interim report and will continue to do so in the coming months before making her final recommendations. She continued: I have been deeply affected by the residents of high rise buildings I have met and I have learned so much from them. These buildings are their homes and their communities. They are proud of where they live, but their trust in the system has been badly shaken by events of the last few months. We need to rebuild that trust. The independent review will now undertake its second phase of work – including targeted work in partnership with the sector and other stakeholders. A summit involving government and representatives from the building industry will take place in the New Year and a final report will be published in spring 2018. Further information See the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: interim report. The 6 broad areas for change are outlined in summary from page 9 of the interim report and in greater detail from paragraph 1.6 on page 16. Consultation In producing her interim report, Dame Judith Hackitt has: issued a call for evidence which received more than 250 responses held a series of round-table discussions with industry representatives, professional bodies, tenants and landlords organisations and residents’ [...]

Press release: Wales' prosperity is underpinned by the efforts and aspirations of our Top 300 firms


Alun Cairns writes in the Western Mail's Top 300 Businesses in Wales supplementUpdated: Welsh translation addedSince 2010 the UK Government has consistently and robustly put in place measures to help rebuild and nurture the UK economy. We have announced the end of Severn Tolls, delivered City Deals for Cardiff and Swansea, initiated the largest and most ambitious programme of investment in rail infrastructure since the 19th Century and seen several multi-million pound defence contracts awarded to companies across the length and breadth of Wales - to name just a few. We have also had to make some tough decisions along the way, and many have asked us to change tack. But what we are seeing now proves they have been the right decisions. Our consistency in tackling the deficit whilst making the UK a good place to do business means that, not only are we seeing an economy that is growing, but it is one that continues to create more jobs and continues to confound those who seek to talk it down. Since 2010, Wales continues to be the fastest growing part of the UK outside London. Welsh businesses can take their share of credit for what Britain has achieved in the years since the financial crisis. Over the last year, we have seen further investment from businesses here in Wales. In Newport, the train manufacturer CAF is expected to create 200 skilled jobs in its new factory, following a £30 million investment. On a recent visit to North Wales, I saw for myself how healthcare company Ipsen is diligently expanding with a £22 million investment in its Wrexham site. The company has invested around £100million over the last three years on its North Wales footprint – securing high skilled jobs for the long-term. As we celebrate this good news, we should keep clearly in mind what it all really means. It’s not simply numbers on a balance sheet, but an investment in people’s livelihoods and the economic security of families across Wales. It is a vote of confidence in Wales – in our talents, our skills, our infrastructure and our ideas. But our job now is to look to the future. If the last ten years have seen us rebuilding our economic position, the next ten years must see the beginning of a new chapter in the story of the Welsh economy. Because for all our progress, there is still a long way to go. The only way to achieve a stronger, better balanced economy and improve living standards across Wales in the long term is to improve our productivity. That is the key goal of the recently launched Industrial Strategy White Paper - a strategy that invests in the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future to raise productivity and wages in all parts of our country. I want to ensure that we are putting our best foot forward to maximise the benefits for Wales from the initiatives and grand challenges it presents. Our approach to the Industrial Strategy reflects our ambitions for the British economy as we leave the European Union. A more productive, dynamic, innovative, world leading economy which embraces technological change and is globally focussed. Indeed, the UK Government announced recently that Cardiff has been chosen to be one of ten new regional hubs across the UK for emerging tech firms. That announcement is clear evidence of our commitment to Wales and confirms its position at the leading edge of technology and digital development. It also underlines the Government’s support across the UK for digital start-ups and the expansion of existing businesses in the technology sector. And of course, the UK Government has set out the way forward for a [...]

Press release: Bishop of London: Sarah Elisabeth Mullally


Confirmation of the nomination of the Right Reverend Sarah Elisabeth Mullally for election as Bishop of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Sarah Elisabeth Mullally, DBE, MA, BSc, MSC, DSc(Hons), RGN, Suffragan Bishop of Crediton in the Diocese of Exeter for election as Bishop of London in succession to the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard John Carew Chartres, KCVO, PC, on his resignation on the 28 February 2018.

Further information

The Right Reverend Sarah Mullally, DBE, (aged 55) studied first at South Bank University for her BSc followed by a MSc and then at Heythrop College, University of London where she got her MA. She was awarded Honorary Doctorates of Science from Bournemouth University, (2004), University of Wolverhampton (2004) and University of Hertfordshire (2005) and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2005 for her contribution to nursing and midwifery.

She is a late ordinand who before ordination was Chief Nursing Officer in the Department of Health. She trained for the ministry at the South East Institute for Theologian Education and served her first curacy at Battersea Fields in Southwark Diocese from 2001 to 2006. From 2006 to 2012 she was Team Rector at Sutton in Southwark Diocese. From 2012 to 2015 she was Canon Residentiary and Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral before taking up her current role in 2015 as Suffragan Bishop of Crediton in the Diocese of Exeter.

Sarah Mullally is married to Eamonn and they have two children. She has continued her interest in the health service having been a non executive director at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust then at Salisbury NHS Foundation Hospital. She is a member of Council at King’s College London University. She is a novice potter.

News story: Apprentice’s Shoe Box Appeal brings joy to the elderly


A group of Sellafield Ltd apprentices has packed and delivered 120 shoe box hampers to elderly people across West Cumbria.

The Sellafield Ltd Apprentice Council, made up of 20 trainees, organised the Christmas Shoe Box Appeal, collecting hundreds of gifts from Sellafield Ltd and supply chain employees.

They packed a variety of gifts into shoe boxes, wrapping each one individually before delivering them to residential homes in Egremont, Cleator Moor and Whitehaven.

They were joined by the Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, who helped hand out the boxes at the Castle Mount Care Home, in Egremont.

Mike said:

I was delighted to see the Sellafield Ltd Apprentice Council giving back to their local community. To see generations coming together to celebrate the festive season, and for local employees to give back to those in care homes across Copeland is fantastic, and a great example of the generosity often shown in our community.

Rose Shaw, a Sellafield Ltd business administration apprentice said:

This year, the Sellafield Ltd Apprentice Council wanted to do something a bit different in the run up to Christmas.

We decided to run a local version of the Operation Christmas Shoe Box Appeal for the elderly in residential care homes around West Cumbria.

We initially contacted local care homes to get an idea of the kind of things we could ask people to donate and created lists of ideas from there.

The response to the appeal was unbelievable. We were getting boxes filled with such lovely, thoughtful gifts on a regular basis.

It’s very heartwarming knowing that these shoe boxes could make an elderly person’s Christmas that little bit better, making it so worthwhile.

The wrapped shoe boxes were presented to 5 different West Cumbrian care-homes by the apprentices themselves this week.

  • Castle Mount Care Home, Bookwell, Egremont
  • Denthome Care Home, Cleator Moor
  • Wyndham Manor Care Home, Cleator Moor
  • Bethshan Care Home, Whitehaven
  • Bethany House Care Home, Whitehaven

Press release: Young people are savvier and more generous when giving to charity at Christmas


18 – 24 year olds would be first to give up their smartphones to raise money for charity – but are more likely to make checks on their chosen charity firstNew research from the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator highlights the generosity of the British public at Christmas – and suggests that younger people are savvier about the charities they donate to than other age groups. 44% of 18 – 24 year olds said that they would give up their smartphones for the month of December to raise £500 for a charity of their choice. This is compared with under a third of the rest of the population. Youngsters also intend to make the highest financial donation to charity this Christmas, with an average pledge of £31.29. This generosity is backed up by a strong awareness among that age group about the importance of making basic checks on a charity before giving, suggesting that young people are making informed choices about who they give to. Over half of young people said that they usually do checks on a charity before donating to them, compared with just 29% of over 75s. The Commission is reminding the public that its online register holds a wide range of information about charities, including who sits on their trustee board, how they spend their money and whether the charity is or has been formally investigated by the Commission. Helen Stephenson CBE, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said: This research shows that Christmas remains a time of generous charitable giving, and that is to be celebrated. I’m particularly pleased that young people give generously, but also that they are more likely to make basic checks before giving to their chosen charity than people from their parents’ generation. This hints at a welcome shift in the public’s relationship with charities and shows why charities should be open and transparent about the way they are run and how they spend their money. By doing so they can encourage donors’ trust and generosity. The research finds that the most common way people check before giving is to perform an internet search, followed by looking for a registered charity number. Donors can perform more substantial checks by looking at the Commission’s register, or checking that they comply with the Fundraising Regulator’s guidance and Code of Fundraising Practice. For those wanting to limit unwanted communications from charities, the Fundraising Preference Service is a popular choice, with 28% of people surveyed saying they would use it to opt out from fundraising requests. Brits still overwhelmingly prefer to give money directly to street collectors, and 1 in 10 respondents said that they have been approached to give money to charities that they did not know. Stephen Dunmore, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator said: The British public are generous givers but the research shows a surprisingly high number of people who give without checking where their donation is going. It’s important for donors to remember that they are entitled to know what their donations are being used for and to consent (or not) to the ways in which their personal data will be used. Donors can also exercise control over which charities contact them and by what methods. The Fundraising Preference Service puts members of the public in the driving seat and, having launched the service just 6 months ago, it’s good to see so many of the public already aware of how to use the service as a last resort where they need to stop unwanted communicat[...]

News story: DFID statement on the death of Becky Dykes


DFID statement on the death of Becky Dykes

A DFID spokesperson said:

Our thoughts are with Becky’s family and friends at this very upsetting time. There is now a police investigation and the Foreign Office is providing consular support to Becky’s family and working with the local authorities‎.

General media queries

Follow the DFID Media office on Twitter - @DFID_Press


Press release: Mark field statement at UN Security Council North Korea meeting


Mark Field MP, UK Foreign Office Minister for Asia, spoke at the Security Council Ministerial Meeting on North Korea on 15 December.Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting on North Korea on 15 December, Foreign & Commonwealth Minister for Asia Mark Field MP said: Thank you Mr Foreign Minister for bringing us together for this important meeting under the Japanese presidency of the Security Council. And thank you too, for the Secretary-General Guterres for your comprehensive briefing on the clear global threats and the challenges that destabilising conduct of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea present to us all. I should like to start by discussing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It was, it is, a great diplomatic achievement and remains the cornerstone of our international security. As signatories, we have all benefited from its protections. It is our collective responsibility, and it is in our collective interests, to ensure that all nations stand by their commitments and obligations under the Treaty and its associated agreements. It is also our duty as members of this Council and as responsible international actors. We must abide by our collective rules, we must defend our values and we must work together in this Council, to safeguard a system of international security that benefits the whole of humanity. North Korea repeatedly and wilfully rebuffs these systems and our collective values. Earlier this week, members of the Council heard appalling and harrowing accounts of the regime’s brutal treatment of its own people. Of women forced to drown their newborn babies as the regime didn’t consider them to be racially pure. They heard multiple examples of violations of foreign citizens’ rights, including of course Mr President, of those of your own country, Japan. Today, we meet yet again to condemn North Korea’s illegal and dangerous nuclear weapons programme. Kim Jong-Un claims that he wants to be a responsible actor, and that he wishes to bring security and prosperity to his people. The regime’s actions, exemplified by their systematic violation of human rights and their nuclear weapons programme, demonstrate precisely the opposite intent. North Korea’s pursuit of an intercontinental nuclear weapon is increasingly destabilising for us all. North Korea has fired some 20 ballistic missiles this year. We have seen three intercontinental ballistic missile launches and two missiles launched across and over the territory of Northern Japan. Now, in response to these actions this Council has unanimously, and appropriately, decided to impose the strictest sanctions in a generation upon North Korea. Our community of nations has shown its deep condemnation of the regime by taking these sanctions seriously. This has of course started to have an impact. We all have the responsibility of ensuring these sanctions are fully and properly implemented so that they have the desired effect. Now that North Korea’s arms dealers are discovering that their usual routes to clients are closed, their diplomats are struggling to process bank transactions for contraband goods. Their exporters of manual labour are finding their contracts are not being renewed. We must not just keep this pressure up, but we must increase it. We must share information and expertise to prevent North Korea from using front companies or illicit channels to evade sanctions. We must all co-operate fully [...]

Press release: Mark Field remarks at UN Security Council Climate Security Arria


Minister for Asia Mark Field made a statement at the UN Security Council Arria on climate security.Speaking at the UN Security Council Arria on climate security, Foreign Office Minister Mark Field MP said: Thank you Mr. President. And thank you to our briefers, H.E. Halbe Zijlstra, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Ms. Caitlin Werrel. Climate change presents an urgent threat to us all and the planet we inhabit. I am grateful to address the Council on this crucial topic. A topic that is so important to the UK - the first Security Council debate on the relationship between climate and security was convened by the United Kingdom ten years ago. Since then, climate-related security threats have become more pressing. Understandably a core focus of this Council is conflict resolution and prevention, however it is striking that in 2016, three times as many people were displaced by natural disasters as by conflict. This year we have also seen many extreme weather events and climate-related disasters – droughts in Somalia, hurricanes in the Caribbean, flooding in India and Bangladesh. As the 13th Sustainable Development Goal makes clear, climate change has a direct impact on development. Goal 16 makes clear that development and peace are inexplicitly linked. Therefore it is irrefutable that climate change needs to be considered by this Council to promote peace, security and development for all. Without concerted global action to limit and manage the impact of climate change, we could reverse the huge gains in global poverty reduction which we have achieved over the last three decades. Part of this action must be a quick response to climate related disasters to minimise impact and preserve life. The UK works closely with countries in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa to build resilience. We are providing an additional $71 million funding to extend this work. We have provided $40 million to set up the London based Centre for Global Disaster Protection, in partnership with the World Bank, to ensure an earlier and more rapid response to disasters. This will not only save lives, but also allow countries to recover more quickly, reducing the long-run impacts on poverty alleviation and economic growth. However we recognise that prevention is always better than the cure. If we are to avoid the worst impacts on the most vulnerable, the answer to this is not to react to climate change after the fact but invest now to manage the risk. Helping vulnerable countries to build their resilience to natural disasters and adapt to the impacts of climate change is crucial. It is for this reason that we have consistently encouraged robust international action on climate security, including by launching the G7’s work on climate and fragility in 2013. As my Prime Minister stated this in Paris week, “we stand firmly with those who find themselves on the frontline of rising sea levels and extreme weather”. Together with our partners, we have committed to jointly mobilise $100bn per year in climate finance to developing countries from public and private sources. This was instrumental in securing the landmark Paris Agreement, which is crucial for ensuring global economic security and sustainable development. As part of this commitment, we pledged to provide at least $7.5 billion of International Climate Finance between 2016 and 2020. We are aiming to support mitigat[...]

News story: Economic talks herald Golden Era in UK-China relations


The wide-ranging dialogue further strengthened the Golden Era in UK-China relations, boosting cooperation across the two countries’ strategic partnership.Around £1.4 billion worth of commercial deals, an agreement to accelerate the final preparations for the London-Shanghai Stock Connect initiative and new commitments to develop work on the Mutual Recognition of Funds and a bond connect, have been announced as part of the 9th UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) held in Beijing this weekend. And in a boost to UK businesses operating along the Belt and Road in Asia, up to £25 billion in financial support – such as loan guarantees – has also been announced. 9th UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue: policy outcomes. The wide-ranging dialogue further strengthened the Golden Era in UK-China relations, successfully boosting cooperation across the two countries’ strategic partnership. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: These successful talks are an example of Global Britain at its best, demonstrating that we can work with our friends and partners across the world to support jobs, businesses and prosperity. This is testament to our strong and dynamic economy, and the world class talent and expertise we have to offer. These talks show the UK is truly open for business and we look forward to continuing the Golden Era of UK-China relations. The Economic and Financial Dialogue involved a series of events over a two-day period, where agreements were reached on areas of trade and investment, deepening the financial services relationship, new partnerships on industrial strategy, and further ways in which the UK can partner on infrastructure initiatives. These included: Financial services Final preparations for the London-Shanghai Stock Connect initiative, which will mean investors in each country will be able to trade shares listed on the other’s stock exchange, are to be accelerated. Building on this, the first steps were also taken in establishing a bond connect, with a view to opening up the bond market to mutual trading. There was also an agreement to progress Mutual Recognition of Funds work with the launch of a feasibility study, opening up China to the UK’s unrivaled asset management sector. The UK and China also engaged in deeper regulatory cooperation, including on financial stability, through the first meeting of the PBOC-Bank of England Symposium. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) The EFD set out further ways in which the UK, and specifically London as a global financial centre, can partner on the Belt and Road Initiative. To showcase the expertise the UK has to offer, Douglas Flint, former Chairman of HSBC Group, was announced as the Chancellor’s City Envoy to the BRI, and a City Expert Board will be established to bring together infrastructure financing, professional and emerging market expertise. Together these initiatives will facilitate further cooperation with China and create commercial opportunities for UK firms. In support of this Standard Chartered Bank also announced its support for the BRI by committing to facilitate financing to the value of at least $20 billion by 2020. UK Export Finance affirmed up to £25 billion capacity to support new business in BRI countries in Asia, in a boost to UK businesses selling their goods and services. The UK and China also agreed to identify specific BRI projects to act [...]

Speech: Jubilee of the School of Democratic Leadership in Montenegro


Speech on the topic of Western Balkans integration, dialogue and developmentForeign Minister Darmanović, Ambassadorial colleagues, I’m really pleased to be here today to mark the fifteenth jubilee of the School of Democratic Leadership. When contemplating the themes of today’s alumni forum, I thought of the 17th century English poet and priest John Donne, who said: No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” He might well have been thinking of the relationship Europe has both with the Western Balkans, and with the UK. After two World Wars, Europe has evolved structures which promote integration and dialogue to address our shared development. These themes are particularly important as Europe contemplates the future of the EU. As Montenegro looks to the future of its EU accession process. And, as the UK considers Brexit. British Ministers have consistently made clear that the UK is leaving the EU, not leaving Europe. As Prime Minister May said, in Florence on 22 September, “Brexit does not mean we are no longer a proud member of the family of European nations.” We are not turning our back on Europe; and we continue to believe that the success of the EU is profoundly in the national interest of the UK, and we believe of the wider world. Copyright: Damir Krpuljevic for NGO Građanska alijansa The UK has played and will continue to play an active role in the Western Balkans, in promoting European prosperity, stability and security. And that is why the UK is a strong supporter of Montenegrin reforms. And why we are delighted to host the Western Balkans Summit in London in July 2018. The Berlin Process is an important tool to advance our shared aims of embedding stability in the Western Balkans. It is quite fashionable today to complain about either being in a crisis or being on the verge of crisis. However, nobody who has ever spent more than a few days in the Western Balkans can say that the joint European and Western Balkan reform efforts have not borne fruit. As you know, Chancellor Merkel launched the Berlin Process in 2014, with the aim of boosting European engagement and regional cooperation in the still fragile Western Balkans region. The Berlin Process is based around three pillars: firstly regional cooperation and resolving outstanding bilateral questions, secondly strengthening good governance and thirdly increasing prosperity via sustainable economic growth. Copyright: Damir Krpuljevic for NGO Građanska alijansa The UK is still in the planning phase for the Summit. We want the Summit to continue the achievements of the Berlin Process, and of previous Summit hosts, and to promote partnership and responsibility. We want to build momentum on the interconnectivity agenda – including the delivery of large-scale transport and energy projects and achieve progress on regional and inter-regional integration. We very much welcome the important work that the Commission and the international financial institutions are doing in these regards. We are keen to ensure a strong focus on digital and entrepreneurship in order to boost the region’s growth potential, job creation and economic cooperation. Youth will be a key focus. We are delighted that the Regional Youth Cooperation Office has been inaugurated and look forward to it becoming fully operational. We want to pr[...]

News story: Legal Director Nick Olley wins Legal 500 Award


Nick Olley, Director of GLD’s Department for Transport Legal Advisers, has been awarded the Legal 500 'Public Sector Individual of the Year' award for 2017.

Nick has provided strong leadership to DfT Legal Advisers since he was appointed as its legal chief in 2013.

His role spans a huge variety of high-profile public sector initiatives such as the HS2 project, the airports capacity programme and the ongoing development of rail franchising policy. Nick also works on several futuristic developments, such as the Space Industry Bill and the legislative framework for autonomous vehicles.

The Legal 500 UK Awards identify the best in-house counsel, law firms and sets. They are selected through in-depth research carried out across the whole of the UK legal sector, including 90,000 client interviews.

Speech: Annual Human Rights Day reception 2017: Lord Ahmad's speech


At an event co-hosted with Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Lord Ahmad spoke on how the UK promotes and protects freedom of religion or belief around the world.Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to you all to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It’s an honour indeed to welcome such strong advocates on this important issue to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular, I would like to thank Mervyn Thomas from Christian Solidarity Worldwide and also welcome both Tina and Alissa to the panel, and I look forward to working with all of you, indeed everyone in this room, on this important issue. I am also delighted to acknowledge that we are joined this morning by my colleague and friend, Minister of State Lord Bates, who is the Minister of State at the Department for International Development. Michael and I have been working on this agenda and others, hand in glove, and I think it underlines the importance that we in the government, are attaching to cross-Whitehall working. I am also delighted to welcome the Chairman of the APPG Baroness Fiona Hodgson to the room, and there are others in this room who know that faith is part and centre of the challenges we face, and it is important to ensure the voice of the oppressed, the voice of those who don’t have a voice, is heard. Importance of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) And therefore, we all ask the question, why does freedom of religion or belief matter? It matters simply because the short answer is that religion itself matters to a huge number of people. To us in this room and beyond. According to the Pew Research Centre, religious faith guides the daily life of more than 80% of the world’s population. I was once asked very recently, about the importance and priorities that I lay in my own life, and I mentioned 2 things beginning with F – family and faith. Because I think these are the things which transcend all professions, all walks of life, and they are important in what defines us. As a man of faith myself, religion certainly does matter to me. So does the freedom to practice my faith without fear of discrimination or persecution. I am proud to be Minister of a country, born and bred in a country where I can do just that. When I travel around the world, I say this, that Britain is the best place to be a Muslim. It is the best place to be a Christian, a Jew, a Sikh, a Hindu, a Buddhist or whatever faith you choose to follow, or indeed if you have no faith. Because that is what defines our country. The strength of our diversity, the strength of our communities. The strength of our faith communities, and those of no faith. The freedoms enjoyed here in the United Kingdom by people of all faiths and none, I believe passionately, should enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. This matters not only because of the importance of religion in and of itself. It also matters, ladies and gentlemen, because promoting tolerance, actually not just tolerance, but understanding and respect for all, helps to create a platform for a stable and prosperous society. By ensuring that everyone can contribute, society as a whole is better off. There is also clear evidence to suggest that the tolerant and inclusive societies are better equipped to resist extremism. Those of you who know me know that I feel very passionately about this issue of [...]

Press release: Ipswich Tidal Flood Barrier Gate a step closer


VIPs, including the Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan, attended an open day to see the latest work on the flood defence scheme, which will significantly reduce the risk of flooding for 2,000 homes and businesses in the town.

Huge hydraulic arms that will operate Ipswich’s new tidal flood gate have been installed, taking the vital £70 million project 1 step closer to completion.

VIPs, including the Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan, attended an open day to see the latest work on the flood defence scheme, which will significantly reduce the risk of flooding for 2,000 homes and businesses in the town.

The 200 tonne tidal gate was manufactured in the Netherlands and arrived in Suffolk in October, a significant milestone in the 4 year project. The gate is 22 metres wide and will stand 9 metres tall when in its “closed position”. It is finished with 5 tonnes of special paint that will help protect it, as it spends most of its life under water.

It was lowered into place by a specially constructed 1,000 tonne crane and the operating mechanism and control building are now being installed.

The project is being undertaken by Environment Agency contractor VBA – a joint venture between VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and Atkins – and is due to be completed next year.

Sir James Bevan, chief executive at the Environment Agency, said:

Its been fantastic to visit the Ipswich tidal barrier gate and see this incredible feat of engineering. The £70 million barrier will not only help reduce the threat of flooding for 2,000 homes and businesses but also be a boost for the area’s economy. Working with partners has been key to the scheme’s success and I look forward to seeing the finished scheme.

Floods Minister, Thérèse Coffey, said:

Suffolk is no stranger to flooding and the devastating impacts it can have. That is why I am really pleased that we have made progress with this scheme which is a key part of the regeneration of our county town.

This new £70 million barrier is brilliant news for Ipswich and is just 1 example of our investment across Suffolk to better protect communities across the county from flooding.

The Ipswich Flood Defence Management Strategy (IFDMS) will increase the standard of protection and takes into account current climate change predictions.

The final element of the scheme involves building a tidal barrier across the New Cut River in Ipswich with associated works to tie it into the new east and west bank walls and gates.

The flood defence scheme, which will reduce the risk of flooding to 1,608 homes and 422 businesses and support key infrastructure, has been partnership funded by: the Environment Agency, Ipswich Borough Council, Department for Communities and Local Government, the Haven Gateway Partnership, and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

The barrier gate is expected to be operational in the spring of 2018.

Press release: MHRA awarded over £980,000 for collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation


MHRA today announced a partnership worth over £980,000 to improve the safety monitoring of medicines in low and middle-income countries. We are delighted to announce a new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation that aims to extensively improve the safety monitoring of medicines in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). New medicines and vaccines, for diseases such as malaria and HIV, may be introduced for the first time in LMIC’s where there are weak or no regulatory systems in place for effective safety monitoring. These new treatments have been developed with urgent public health needs in mind and therefore the need to gather and analyse information quickly on their safety and effectiveness is important. The healthcare and regulatory systems in these settings may often lack the tools, training and capacity to operate a robust safety monitoring system. Whilst great progress has been made with many of LMIC’s now involved as members of the World Health Organization Program for International Drug Monitoring, the experience in collecting, assessing and acting on adverse reaction data, and risk management planning is limited. Without an effective system, public health programs are at risk and patients may be affected, should they suffer from adverse drug reactions (ADRs) which are not promptly identified and treated. This can consequently undermine the program and result in a loss of trust in the product or a vaccine. Ultimately, this may lead to lower uptake and therefore, the disease not being effectively treated. WHO and the Gates Foundation have launched ‘Project Smart Safety Surveillance’ (also known as Project 3-S) to help LMIC’s identify, assess, and adequately manage the risks associated with new products. MHRA will be joining this initiative to bring regulatory expertise to the project. This will be for a 3-year period where it is intended to run three pilot exercises in different LMIC settings. Dr Ian Hudson, Chief Executive Officer at MHRA said: We are delighted to be involved in such an important global initiative. New drugs and vaccines are being brought to the market for the first time in public health programmes in settings where the safety monitoring and regulatory systems need strengthening. The expertise we can bring to the project will help national safety monitoring centres identify risks and benefits early and take appropriate regulatory action to support global heath. Dr Dan Hartman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said: The Triple S project is vitally important to the success of public health programmes to combat some of the world’s major diseases. When a new medicine or vaccine is being used it is critical that potential risks are identified early and well understood. The involvement of MHRA in this project will ensure scientific and regulatory expertise are developed within the national centres. Dr Ian Hudson discusses a new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation Media enquiries News centre MHRA 151 Buckingham Palace Road Victoria London SW1W 9SZ Email [...]

News story: UK-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting 2017 - Joint Statement


The UK-Japan Joint Statement from the Third UK-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting, 14 December 2017 The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson, the Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, H.E. Mr. Taro Kono, and the Minister of Defence, H.E. Mr. Itsunori Onodera met in London on 14 December 2017 for the third UK-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting. The Ministers reaffirmed that the UK and Japan are each other’s closest security partners in Europe and Asia respectively. They welcomed the strong progress made in defence and security co-operation since the last UK-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting. They expressed their commitment to elevating their global security partnership to the next level, as confirmed during Prime Minister May’s visit to Japan in August 2017, and to promoting new and comprehensive programme of co-operation, building on the “UK-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation”. In this regard, they welcomed the creation of a joint Action Plan on security and defence co-operation, which will be revised regularly as a living document. The Ministers affirmed the UK and Japan’s global strategic partnership, which is underpinned by common strategic interests and fundamental values. They expressed their commitment to maintaining the rules-based international system, which is the foundation of global security and prosperity, including through harnessing the UK’s vision of “Global Britain” and Japan’s vision of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. They reconfirmed the importance of promoting quality infrastructure with open, fair and sustainable access for enhanced regional connectivity. They emphasised the importance of international order based on the rule of law, and expressed their strong opposition to any unilateral actions that increase tensions or change the status quo by force or coercion. The Ministers reaffirmed that a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law is an important pillar of the stability and prosperity of the international community and committed to strengthening maritime security co-operation. They confirmed that it is of mutual benefit to work together, with partners, to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Japan’s Ministers welcomed the UK’s strengthened security engagement in this region, including through visits by maritime, land and air forces, such as the potential deployment of a UK aircraft carrier. Japan also welcomed the UK’s commitment to the security of the Asia-Pacific region through the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). The Ministers condemned, in the strongest terms, North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in flagrant violation of relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, including the launch of a ballistic missile with possible intercontinental range on 29 November 2017. They strongly urged North Korea to comply with all relevant UNSC resolutions and the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and stressed that they wou[...]

News story: Measles outbreaks confirmed in 5 areas across UK


Public Health England (PHE) issues advice for the public to ensure they have had the MMR vaccine after outbreaks of measles are confirmed in 5 areas of England.Updated: Updated number of cases.Latest update As of 14 December, there have been 29 confirmed cases in West Yorkshire, 20 confirmed cases in Cheshire and Liverpool, 16 confirmed cases in the West Midlands, 10 confirmed cases in Surrey and Sussex and 4 confirmed cases in Greater Manchester. Previous update 11 December 2017 As of 8 December 2017, there have been 28 confirmed cases in Leeds, 18 confirmed cases in Liverpool, 13 confirmed cases in Birmingham, 7 confirmed cases in Surrey, and 4 confirmed cases in Manchester. All of the cases have been reported in children and adults who have not received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. 30 November 2017 As of 29 November 2017, there were 16 confirmed cases in Leeds, 11 confirmed cases in Liverpool and 9 confirmed cases in Birmingham. All of the cases have been reported in children and adults who have not received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and can sometimes lead to serious complications. Children and young people who have not received 2 doses of MMR vaccine are at risk. Unvaccinated people travelling to Romania and Italy, where there are currently large outbreaks of measles, are at particularly high risk. Anyone planning to travel to Europe over the Christmas period should check NaTHNaC travel health advice. PHE local health protection teams are working closely with the NHS and local authorities to raise awareness of the outbreaks in England and Europe with health professionals and local communities. The MMR vaccine is available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their 2 doses. Anyone who is not sure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP practice. Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said: The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe. People who have recently travelled, or are planning to travel to Romania, Italy and Germany and have not had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine are particularly at risk. This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at 1 year of age and as a pre-school booster at 3 years and 4 months of age. Children and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had 2 doses should contact their GP practice to catch-up. We’d also encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before travelling to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks. The UK recently achieved WHO measles elimination status and so the overall risk of measles to the UK population is low, however due to ongoing measles outbreaks in Europe, we will continue to see cases in unimmunised individuals and limited onward spread can occur in communities with low MMR coverage and in age groups with very close mixing. [...]

News story: Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay in Bermuda


The Royal Naval support ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay arrives in Bermuda on 15 December for a three day visit.RFA Mounts Bay has been on deployment to the region as part of her Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North) duties, to provide humanitarian and disaster relief for the UK’s Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda. This year RFA Mounts Bay has been in the Caribbean for hurricane season, ready to provide support at a moment’s notice. Tasked by the Royal Navy, she was the UK’s first military response to the Caribbean during Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria. During the visit the Commanding Officer paid calls upon the Governor John Rankin and on Premier Burt. RFA Mounts Bay will also provide some logistical support to the Royal Bermuda Regiment and will host a Disaster Management Presentation of the vessels capabilities for members of Bermuda’s Emergency Measures Organisation – the primary organisation for Disaster Management co-ordination on island. RFA Mounts Bay will also host tours for the Bermuda Sea Cadets and the Bermuda Scouts Association. The Governor for Bermuda, John Rankin CMG, commented on the visit: We warmly welcome the first visit of RFA Mounts Bay to Bermuda. I saw at first hand her invaluable work on crisis preparedness and crisis response in the Caribbean during the recent Hurricanes. I have no doubt that her presence in the affected areas in the immediate aftermath of the recent storms saved lives for which we are all eternally grateful. Thankfully, Mounts Bay visits us in calmer conditions and her visit provides a great opportunity for the sharing of experiences and capabilities between our own Emergency Measures Organisation and that of the RFA Mounts Bay itself. This can only help to strengthen our preparations should such extreme weather conditions befall Bermuda in the future. Notes for Editors RFA Mounts Bay (L3008) is one of three Landing Ship Docks (Auxiliary) and was built by BAE (Naval Ships) at Govan on the River Clyde. Launched by Lady Band in April 2004, she was the first Bay class vessel, and following extensive sea trials was accepted into service in July 2006. A formal service of dedication took place in September of that year to mark the Transfer of Operational Command to Fleet, with the ship honoured by the attendance of her sponsor Lady Sarah Band and her husband, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, former First Sea Lord. The summer of 2007 saw RFA Mounts Bay receive the great privilege of the Honorary Freedom of her affiliated town, Falmouth and she continues to maintain close links with the Cornish region. So far during operational Service, RFA Mounts Bay has already played a key role in many amphibious exercises, including operations off Sierra Leone, the Baltic Regions and also many more, closer to home, around the coast of the United Kingdom and Western Europe. For more information see RFA Mounts Bay [...]

Press release: Milestone at Shoreham flood defence project


Work at one section of the Adur Tidal Walls Scheme now complete, with roads and paths re-openedA major flood defence scheme that will significantly reduce flood risk to over 2,300 properties in Shoreham-by-Sea and Lancing has taken a step towards completion. Work at Reach E3 of the Shoreham Adur Tidal Walls Scheme is now complete, and the northern section of the Downs Links and Lower Beach Road re-opened on Friday 8 December. Also, as a result of updated modelling for the project, part of the initial plan has been adapted and removed the need for major road works on the A283. The scheme is made up of 10 individual reaches, and work has now started on 8. Construction on Reach E3, which includes raised walls and embankments, started in 2016. Steel piling has been installed along the landward side of the path, and has been clad with brick. The Downs Link path was diverted while the work was completed. Before the advanced modelling took place, the A283 in Shoreham-by-Sea would have been closed for 12 weeks during construction in spring 2018. As a result of the work that has already taken place, only a very small number of properties would benefit from the road raising work. Instead, these properties will be protected with an alternative solution to ensure they also receive a high level of protection, and the road closures will not take place. Elsewhere in the scheme, work on the slipway at Emerald Quay and Sussex Wharf is advancing and the first panes of glass of the riverside flood defence have been installed. The majority of the new wall at Ferry Bridge is complete, and vegetation clearance at Riverbank in preparation for construction to start in the new year is finished. Work at Emerald Quay, Shoreham Harbour Club and Shoreham Fort is progressing well. Much of the work behind the High Street in Shoreham has been completed and is open to the public. Phil Prydderch, Shoreham Adur Tidal Walls Manager at the Environment Agency, said: It’s great news for Shoreham-by-Sea residents that we will be able to enhance their flood protection without the planned road closures. We are committed to protecting all members of the community, and will continue to work with local residents to make them more resilient against flooding. When complete, the Shoreham scheme will reduce the tidal flood risk to thousands of homes and a significant number of commercial properties in the area, as well as protecting important local infrastructure such as the road network, railway line and Shoreham Airport. This is one part of the Environment Agency’s national effort to reduce the risk of flooding for at least 300,000 homes by 2020/21. The Shoreham scheme’s dedicated project visitor centre is at Beach Green Car Park, Shoreham-by-Sea, and is open between midday and 5:00pm on weekdays. Further information on the scheme is available on GOV.UK or by calling 03708 506506. You can also request information by emailing or by writing to SSD Enquiries, Environment Agency, Guildbourne House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing, BN11 1LD. Notes to editors The visitor centre may be closed during scheduled visits from school[...]

News story: MMO announce 2018 panel dates for the EMFF scheme in England


The MMO is pleased to confirm the dates for European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) panels for 2018.

Panels are required to consider applications over £100,000.00 and four panels will be held in 2018 giving applicants the maximum opportunity to apply for EMFF funding. Since the launch of the scheme in January 2016 there has been significant uptake so far. This has resulted in some funding areas becoming under pressure in 2018.

The 2018 panel dates are as follows:

  • The first panel will be held on 21 March 2018. Applicants are asked to ensure their applications reach the MMO by 19 January 2018.
  • A second panel will take place on 13 June with a deadline for applications of 13 April.
  • A third panel will convene on 5 September with an application deadline of 30 June.
  • A final panel will take place on 21 November with an application deadline of 14 September.

Commenting on the panels, MMO Director of Finance, EU and Licensing, Michelle Willis said:

“It’s imperative that people apply for funding by the panel dates and because of the scheme’s success, some funding areas will come under pressure during 2018. We want to ensure enough funding is available for projects to take place so we are asking for those interested to submit their applications as quickly as possible.

“The EMFF Scheme is very diverse and whilst we have received a wide range of projects since launch, we continue to welcome projects in 2018 including innovation projects, scientific - based projects and those with an emphasis on marine conservation.
“I would urge people to note the deadline dates for panel applications and take the time to submit applications which are of the highest possible quality to maximise the chances of application success.”

Please visit the MMO website for guidance and information on how to make an application.

News story: Northumberland Armed Forces Forum


North East England VAPC member Professor Chris Rushton attended the forum as part of the board’s commitment to engaging with the wider armed forces community.

This well attended event drew over 30 representatives from across the region and reflected the interest in supporting the armed forces community in the region.

The issues of alcohol and veterans was covered by a presentation by Dr Sarah Wigham, Newcastle University, on research funded by Forces in Mind Trust. Her work dealt with evidence based interventions to tackle alcohol abuse in the veteran community. This multinational project drew heavily upon research from around the world and explored how this work can be adapted to meet the needs of veterans.

The forum discussed the complex issues relating to alcohol problems and veterans and the how the Mess/NAFI culture has evolved and the effect of cheap alcohol on serving personnel.

The forum was the opportunity of the incoming Royal British Legion, Advice and Information Officer, Ms Louise Liddell to introduce herself to the community and to brief the community on the Legion’s work in the Northumberland region.

The wider veteran support environment was explored, specifically there was an exploration of the Northumberland Outreach Worker Project by its representative Mr Jonny Harrison. Even though he had only been in post 10 weeks he was already working 25 cases, or which 70% involved mental health issues and described their project as being so busy they have had to advertise for another member of staff to help deliver services.

The new Albermarle Barracks Military Wives Choir, formed a year ago and has had a very successful appearance at Hexham Abbey and St Nicholas Cathedral. This Choir was formed with the express purpose of creating a supportive community rather than an award-winning choir and is made up of for wives, fiancées, and co-habiting partners, who might otherwise feel isolated.

The choir is also open to women serving in the armed services and female veterans, plus and wives, daughters of veterans. It is not restricted to Albermarle and is open to all who qualify across the region. It is now one of more than 200 military wives choirs across the UK. The Albermarle choir was set up because the nearest ones were in Catterick and Edinburgh.

The forum was a very useful meeting that allowed the VAPC to meet with other service providers and is an important part of the board’s engagement strategy.

News story: £170m competition launched for new Institutes of Technology


Application window to establish new Institutes of Technology opens.

Employers, education and training providers can now apply for a share of £170m to establish prestigious new Institutes of Technology (IoTs), which will specialise in delivering the higher level technical skills that employers need.

Today (15 December) the Department for Education has opened the application window for employers, Higher Education and Further Education providers to apply for multimillion-pound capital funding, as outlined by the Education Secretary at last month’s Skills Summit.

IoTs will see businesses and education and training providers working together to deliver provision to learners that is highly sought after by employers, in technical disciplines, particularly STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

Institutes of technology will play a vital role driving our skills revolution with business and unlocking the potential of our country’s young people through better technical education. By bridging the country’s skills gaps, these new institutions will drive growth and widen opportunity.

This Government continues to invest in developing our homegrown talent so British business has the skills it needs and so that young people can get the opportunities they want.

These new institutions will help tackle the skills gap at a local, regional and national level and extend opportunity to thousands of people.

IoTs are just one of the skills reforms outlined by the Secretary of State on the 30 November at the Department for Education’s Skills Summit which brought together education experts and some of the country’s top employers to forge a new alliance to deliver a skills revolution.

Today we can confirm our aim to achieve a network of IoTs across the country. We expect the first IoTs will be open in 2019.

To apply register here

Press release: North London rapist to spend longer in prison


A rapist has had his prison term increased following the intervention of the Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC MP.

On 20 February 2012, Michael Adjei, 24, who was 19 at the time, attacked the 18 year old victim in the early hours of the morning when she was walking alone to her friend’s house after a night out. The victim was approaching the front door when Adjei jumped on her from behind causing her to fall sideways between 2 parked cars and hit her face.

Adjei then kneeled on top of the victim and forced her to perform oral sex on him after which he made several attempts to forcibly remove her leggings to rape her again. The victim resisted and the offender eventually ran off with the victim’s handbag after noticing a pedestrian was approaching.

Adjei also slammed the victims head on the ground, pulled at her arms and legs and grabbed her by the throat. The victim had swelling to her face, scratches to her neck, chest and knees and injuries to her breasts and buttocks as a result of the incident. The attack was witnessed by 2 residents who looked out of their bedroom windows when they heard the victim’s shouting.

Adjei was convicted of rape and theft at Wood Green Crown Court in October this year. He was originally sentenced to 5 years in prison. The Court of Appeal has today increased his sentence to 7 years.

Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General, who referred the original sentence to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient said:

“This was a violent attack that left both physical and emotional trauma, and crimes of this nature must be suitably sentenced.

“I am pleased the Court has seen fit to increase this sentence - the increased sentence better reflects the seriousness of this offending and the lasting impact it has had on the victim.”

News story: The second International Fintech Conference confirmed for March 2018


The event will bring together international investors and UK Fintechs for a day-long programme of talks and pitches promoting global investment in the sector.

Following the success of the first conference in 2017, the second annual International Fintech Conference has today (15 December 2017) been confirmed for 22 March 2018 in London.

Over 100 Fintech firms and over 400 investors attended the first conference in 2017, which resulted in over £5 million worth of investment into the UK Fintech sector.

Previous speakers include the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Governor of the Bank of England.

The Conference will bring together international investors and UK Fintech firms alongside leading industry figures, regulators and policymakers for a day-long programme of talks and pitches promoting the opportunities for global investment in the UK Fintech sector.

The UK Fintech sector contributes £6.6 billion annually to the UK economy, and employs over 60,000 people across 1,600 companies. In the first three quarters of this year the sector received a record £2.1 billion investment.

The Conference will be a highlight event as part of UK Fintech Week 2018, which will take place from 19-23 March. There will be a variety of events taking place up and down the country in recognition of the Fintech sector, beginning with Innovate Finance’s Global Summit in the historic Guildhall on 19th-20th March.