Hospitals, Prisons And Jobcentres To Refer People At Risk Of Homelessness

Organisations have a duty to help those at risk of becoming homeless and refer them to a housing authority

Marsham Street

Marsham Street

For the first time, prisons, probation services, Jobcentres and NHS Trusts will be among the organisations that have a duty to help those at risk of becoming homeless and refer them to a housing authority, Minister for Homelessness Heather Wheeler confirmed today (22 February 2018).

The Homelessness Reduction Act published today – the most ambitious legislative reform for decades – places new legal duties on English councils to intervene at an earlier stage to prevent homelessness.

Councils will now be required to ensure the advice and information they provide is designed to meet the needs of particular at risk groups including care leavers, people leaving prison, people who have left the armed forces, survivors of domestic abuse and those suffering from a mental illness.

In addition to new duties to refer those at risk of homelessness, the reforms will include:

  • providing free information and advice on preventing homelessness and the rights of homeless people, to all residents, including information tailored to the needs of particularly vulnerable groups
  • a new duty for those who are already homeless so that that local authorities will work with them for 56 days to help secure accommodation

Minister for Homelessness Heather Wheeler said:

Everyone should have a home to call their own and we have put in place strong protections to guard families and individuals against the threat of homelessness.

Our reforms – putting prevention at the heart of everything we do – are designed for lasting change and to back this up we’re investing almost £1 billion over the next 4 years to break the homelessness cycle once and for all.

The government has backed the Act with £72.7 million of funding to help councils to deliver these changes. In time, it is expected that the increased preventative work brought about by the Act will lead to substantial savings for councils.

The confirmation of which public bodies have a duty to refer is part of a wider package of regulations made ahead of the roll-out of the Homelessness Reduction Act in April.

Alongside the new duty to refer, the government is continuing to work closely with key sector organisations to identify different ways services can contribute to preventing homelessness and supporting the successful implementation of the Act.

In particular, the department is working with the National Housing Federation to explore how housing associations can support the Act, including by making referrals, and working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to develop a ‘test and learn’ project in Brighton & Hove focusing on homelessness prevention.

The government is already taking significant action to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping through:

  • providing £315 million to local authorities for their work on homelessness, and an additional £402 million in Flexible Homelessness Support Grant funding, which local authorities can use to work more strategically to prevent and tackle homelessness pressures in their areas
  • announcing £28 million for 3 Housing First pilots in Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands to support long-term rough sleepers off the streets and help them to end their homelessness. Individuals will be provided with stable, affordable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support. This will to help them recover from complex health issues, for example substance abuse and mental health difficulties and sustain their tenancies
  • investing £9 billon to build more social housing, including council homes

Department Of Land Transport In Partnership With British Embassy Bangkok: Improving Driving Licence Procedures For Foreign Nationals

In collaboration with the British Embassy Bangkok, the Thai Department of Land Transport is working to improve the process of obtaining a driving licence for foreign nationals across Thailand

British Embassy Bangkok and the Thai Department of Land Transport

British Embassy Bangkok and the Thai Department of Land Transport

These improvements contribute to a wider goal of tackling road safety in Thailand, with an aim to cap the rising number of foreign nationals involved in road traffic accidents.

Improvements will focus on guidelines for obtaining a driving licence; how to prepare for the driving test; raising awareness of specific risks on the road unique to Thailand; and recaps on internationally-recognised driving standards.

Deputy Head of Mission for the British Embassy Bangkok, Margaret Tongue, says:

Reducing the number of road accidents involving British people in Thailand remains a key priority for the British Embassy. This important collaboration illustrates a shared aim of improving driving standards and raising awareness of specific risks on the roads, through developing engaging and accessible materials to aid the driving test process that not only British people will benefit from, but also any other foreigners residing in Thailand.

Deputy Director General of Department of Land Transport, Kamol Buranapong, says:

Department of Land Transport sees the importance in creating the understanding for foreigners wishing to attain a Thai driving licence. This collaboration with the British Embassy Bangkok on this Road Safety initiative to improve process and standard of licencing process will help enhance the understanding for foreigners and, meanwhile, protecting their right as a road user under Thai laws. Foreigners can receive a Thai driving licence with the same standard procedures with any other vehicle types by receiving training about relevant laws, rules for using roads in Thailand, written and practical tests.

Based on a survey conducted with British customers needing consular services, the partnership has helped kick start three initiatives that include the production of a 45-minute English language instructional video, covering road traffic laws, road usage, techniques for driving safely and driving etiquette. This is a part of the Thai driving test for foreign nationals.

Other initiatives are the production of a 3-minute English language video explaining the process for renewing, transferring and applying for a driving licence as a foreign national and re-translation of the online driving test for English speaking applicants.

The Department of Land Transport will use these materials for English speaking applicants at all driving test centres and transport offices across Thailand. This will ensure that foreign drivers are aware of road safety rules and regulations; the consequences of their own behaviour to themselves and to others; and law enforcement in Thailand.

Cornwall To Host World’s First Commercial Deep-Space Communications Station

An £8.4 million investment in Goonhilly Earth Station, in Cornwall, will help create the world’s first commercial deep-space communications station, capable of tracking future missions to the Moon and Mars

Goonhilly antenna at night. Credit: Goonhilly Earth Station

Goonhilly antenna at night. Credit: Goonhilly Earth Station

Under a new project Goonhilly, which famously beamed images of the moon landings to millions of television viewers, will be upgraded to enable it to provide deep-space tracking and satellite communication services on a commercial basis. It will be the first time the UK has had the capability to communicate directly with deep-space missions.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“We’re working hard to ensure the UK thrives in the commercial space age as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, so it’s fantastic to see the world’s first commercial deep space communications network coming to Cornwall.

“The UK Space Agency has played a vital role in supporting this partnership and will continue to work alongside industry, local leaders and international partners to grow the UK’s share of the global space market. We already play a significant role in satellite manufacturing, with one in four of the world’s telecommunications satellites built in the UK, and want to establish the UK as a world-leading destination for space launch. ”

In future, Goonhilly will complement the capability of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s worldwide ground station network, which today comprises seven core stations supporting more than 20 earth, observatory, planetary and exploration spacecraft as well as European launchers.

The contract is being funded through the LEP’s Growth Deal with the UK Government, via ESA, including €2 million which comes from the UK Space Agency’s investment in ESA. The investment will see ESA working with Goonhilly to upgrade one of its largest antennas, the 32 m-diameter GHY-6 antenna built in 1985, to meet the high-end performance and technology requirements needed by ESA, NASA and private space exploration companies for deep-space communications, including high bit-rate data links.

Colin Baldwin, Head of Local Growth Strategy at the UK Space Agency, said:

“We are delighted that the work the Agency did to support this partnership has come to fruition. We see huge opportunities for the developing space sector in Cornwall and look forward to working with local partners, including Goonhilly Earth Station and the LEP, as their plans develop.”

The investment will provide a huge boost to Cornwall’s space ambitions. Once the upgrade work is complete, Goonhilly will have the ability to track and control forthcoming robotic and human missions to the Moon and Mars, making a significant technical and economic contribution to European efforts in global space exploration.

During the approximately two-year work to upgrade the 32 m-diameter GHY-6 antenna – which carried the 1985 Live Aid concert around the world shortly after it was built – qualifying tests will be carried out under ESA’s oversight to include tracking of several of the Agency’s deep-space missions, including the Mars Express spacecraft which has been in orbit around the Red Planet since 2003.

Goonhilly CEO Ian Jones said: “We already have a great deal of interest in using the upgraded antenna from our international customer base. This includes space agencies, such as ESA, as well as some of the new private space exploration companies.

“The team here at Goonhilly, along with colleagues at the LEP, ESA and the UK Space Agency, have been working incredibly hard to achieve this fantastic outcome. We now look forward to getting on with the upgrade work which will bring a new expansion of the company.”

The UK’s Local Growth Minister, Jake Berry, said:

“It is very encouraging to see a Local Enterprise Partnership using Government’s Growth Deal funding to support a rapidly growing sector through public and private sector collaboration. This contract will create skilled new jobs in the local area while assuring Cornwall’s place in history for its contribution to space exploration.”

New Protection Against Identity Fraud For Company Directors

Laws will make it easier for directors to remove personal addresses from the company register while ensuring transparency

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

  • Company directors are twice as likely to be victims of identity fraud, research shows
  • New laws will allow directors to remove their personal address from the company register whilst still ensuring transparency at Companies House
  • Protection will help to ensure the UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to start a business – a key part of our Industrial Strategy

New laws to help protect company directors from identity fraud and personal harm will be introduced by the Government today (22 February).

The new laws will enable company directors to remove their personal addresses from the UK’s official company register on Companies House. Directors must still provide their business address as a legal requirement.

This comes in response to reports that fraudsters are using this publicly available information to pose as company directors to buy products online. There are also concerns the information is leaving company directors vulnerable to violence and intimidation.

They are twice as likely to be the victims of identity fraud, with company directors being victims in one in five recorded cases, according to research by fraud prevention organisation Cifas.

These new regulations will also help to ensure people feel safe when setting up a new business by protecting directors from identity fraud.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said:

Through our Industrial Strategy we have set our blueprint for ensuring we build on our reputation as one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business.

These new laws will protect new and existing business owners from potential harm and identity fraud, while ensuring we maintain our high standards of corporate transparency.

Under the new laws, directors can replace their personal addresses with an alternative one, like a company address, where they can be contacted to ensure companies meet their legal requirements.

Currently, personal addresses can only be removed when Companies House and the relevant authorities judge there is a serious risk of violence or intimidation as a result of the company’s work.

The new laws will also ensure transparency in legal information as public authorities such as the police, the insolvency service and the pension regulator will still be able to access directors’ information, such as their personal address.

The laws will come into force by the end of summer 2018.

Changes To EU Withdrawal Bill To Be Discussed At Joint Ministerial Committee Meeting

Proposed changes to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill have been shared with devolved administrations ahead of a Joint Ministerial Committee meeting

Cabinet Office/Whitehall

Cabinet Office/Whitehall

Proposed changes to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill to ensure all devolved EU powers transfer directly from Brussels to Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh have now been shared with the devolved administrations ahead of a Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) meeting on European Negotiations (EN) in London on Thursday.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Lidington MP, who chairs the JMC meeting, said the new proposals represented a considerable offer that he hoped the devolved governments would engage with constructively.

The changes would mean that the vast majority of powers will automatically flow from the EU to the devolved administrations. As the UK government has made clear, we always expected that the process would result in a significant increase in their decision making abilities. The changes would also ensure the UK Government would have the ability to protect the internal UK market where necessary, in a small number of areas.

Speaking ahead of the JMC meeting, David Lidington said:

The proposal that we have put on the table is a considerable offer that I hope the devolved administrations will engage with constructively.

We have worked closely with the devolved administrations to find a way forward that respects the role of the devolved governments and ensures we are able to protect our vital UK internal market, worth around four times as much to Scotland as the EU’s.

All sides agree certain areas will require common frameworks – and it’s therefore imperative that we don’t make life more difficult for businesses and families across the UK as we manage the process of bringing new powers back from the EU.

We have demonstrated a willingness to listen and adapt our approach in order to find an agreed way forward, and we encourage others to do likewise so we can make good progress.

The UK Government has been working extensively with the devolved administrations through the JMC process, as well as bilaterals and significant engagement between officials.

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