Student Immigration

The Parliamentary Yearbook is currently gathering news items for major features in the next edition covering the UK education system and has been following closely the efforts of Government to provide a balance between the need to limit immigration and the economic benefit of overseas students coming to the UK

In the wake of the withdrawal of London Metropolitan University’s licence to sponsor students from outside the EU, the Commons Public Accounts Committee today published its Report: ‘Immigration: Points Based System-Student Route’.

The Committee examined, on the basis of evidence from the Home Office and the UK Border Agency, the implementation and management of the student route of the Points Based System for immigration.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:

“It is extraordinary that the UK Border Agency introduced its new points based system for students before proper controls were in place to replace the old ones.

“The result of the Agency’s poorly planned and ill-thought out course of action was chaos: an immediate high level of abuse of the new system and a surge in the number of student visas. In 2009 the number of migrants who abused the student route to work rather than study went up by as much as 40,000 to 50,000.

“Since then, the Agency has been playing catch-up, continually adjusting the rules and procedures in order to try and tackle abuse.

“The result has been to create a huge amount of bureaucracy for universities and an increasingly complex system for students to navigate. A bad situation has been made worse by the poor customer support being provided by the Agency.

“Genuine international students make a valuable contribution to life in the UK and to our economy, and the Agency must reduce the burden on those students and institutions who pose a low risk.

Despite the surge in the number of people abusing the student route, the Agency has not done enough to remove those who are here illegally. Even where it has been told by colleges that so-called students are not studying, it has been unacceptably slow to act.

“The Agency must take urgent enforcement action to remove them. This would also send a message to other would-be migrants that the student route is not an easy option for those with no intention of studying.”

International students contribute significant economic benefit to the UK and provide an important income stream for UK education institutions. There is tension though between the twin goals of ensuring a flow of high quality students into the UK and ensuring and maintaining public confidence in the immigration system. The Home Office, through the UK Border Agency (the Agency), introduced Tier 4 of the Points Based System for student immigration in March 2009 to control the entry of students from outside the European Economic Area who come to the UK to study. Under Tier 4, students have to be sponsored by an educational institution (sponsor) licensed by the Agency and responsibility for testing whether applicants are likely to comply with their visa conditions has been transferred from the Agency to the sponsor.

The Committee found that the Agency implemented the new system before proper controls were in place. It removed the controls it relied on under the old system; primarily, intentions testing and spot check interviews by entry clearance officers, before it had replaced them with new checks and controls. The Agency did not make their secure electronic system, which demonstrated that a student had been sponsored by a licensed sponsor, mandatory until February 2010. In the meantime, the Agency had to rely on letters from sponsors, which were easily forged. The Agency had also only visited 30 % of the education institutions it had licensed as sponsors by March 2009 when it launched Tier 4. The controls gap enabled a surge in student visas and, in 2009 an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 additional migrants came to the UK to work rather than study.

After a poorly planned and ill-thought out implementation of Tier 4 in 2009, the Agency has had to spend the subsequent three years amending rules and procedures in an effort to reduce abuse. This constant change has made it very difficult and costly for students and education institutions to keep up to date with the increasingly complex set of rules and guidance that has emerged. The supporting advice and guidance offered by the Agency has not been good enough. Furthermore, the Agency has not introduced ways to ease the burden on those students and sponsors that can safely be considered low risk, potentially damaging the benefits to the UK education sector.

The Agency has not taken sufficient action to deal with migrants abusing the student route. The Agency took the decision to focus on controls over entry to the UK. It also decided to prioritise removing individuals proven to be ‘high harm’, for example foreign national prisoners. However, it should not be ignoring such large numbers of people living and working in the UK illegally. Its approach also failed to capitalise on the benefit of high profile removals as a disincentive to abuse of the route. The Agency has only belatedly been removing the visas from those it knew were not studying. The Agency has not been following up on those whose visas it knew had expired.

The Government expected that clamping down on abuse of student visas would play a part in reducing net migration. However the measurement of net migration is still based on inaccurate International Passenger Survey data. The e-Borders system for counting all migrants in and out of the UK will not be in place fully until 2015 at the earliest. The Committee noted that currently net migration figures include students, who generally stay in the UK for less than 5 years and suggested that it would be more informative to also report net migration statistics excluding students, as a number of other comparable countries do.

The Parliamentary Year book will continue to report on the progress of this and other anti-piracy measures as we go through the months ahead.

Web: www.parliamentaryyearbook.co.uk

Email: parliamentaryyearbook@blakemedia.org

4th September 2012

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Cyber Security For Businesses

With the growth in the use of the internet by small and medium sized businesses and the threat posed to their activities by cyber crime, the Parliamentary Yearbook is, as part of its ongoing coverage feature of security issues, carrying a major piece in the next edition on Government and industry’s efforts to increase cyber security.

For the first time, the Government and intelligence agencies are directly targeting the most senior levels in the UK’s largest companies and providing them with advice on how to safeguard their most valuable assets, such as personal data, online services and intellectual property.

There are currently 2 billion internet users worldwide and the internet accounts for 3.4 per cent of GDP in the top 13 ‘cyber-mature’ countries. The internet also accounts for 21 per cent of GDP growth in the last 5 years in mature countries and provides 2.6 jobs created for 1 job lost.

75 per cent of Internet impact arises from traditional industries and 10 per cent increase in productivity for small and medium businesses from internet usage. Small and medium businesses heavily using web technologies grow and export as twice much as others.

However far too few company chief executives and chairs take a direct interest in protecting their businesses from cyber threats.

So yesterday the Government launched Cyber Security Guidance for Business at an event attended by FTSE 100 CEOs and Chairs, Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Foreign Office, Cabinet Office, Home Office and senior figures from the intelligence agencies.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Cyber security threats pose a real and significant risk to UK business by targeting valuable assets such as data and intellectual property. By properly protecting themselves against attacks companies are protecting their bottom line.

“Ensuring this happens should be the responsibility of any chief executive or chair as part of an approach to good corporate governance which secures a business for the long-term.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague, as Minister responsible for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said:

“The UK is committed to building a secure, resilient, open and trusted internet. We are working with partners across the globe to ensure this vision becomes a reality.

“A networked world brings many advantages. But cyberspace – and cybercrime – knows no borders. Businesses must be alert to the dangers. Drawing on GCHQ’s experience and working with industry the Government is committed to helping reduce vulnerability to attacks and ensure that the UK is the safest place in the world to do business.”

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“Cyber crime is a serious problem which affects businesses of all sizes and can have devastating consequences.

“That is why we have funded the expansion of the Police Central e-Crime Unit in the Metropolitan Police and SOCA’s Cyber Unit, and established three regional cyber specialist hubs to help combat the threat. We will build on this by introducing a dedicated cyber crime unit in the new National Crime Agency.”

The new guidance, produced by the CESG (the Information Security arm of GCHQ), BIS and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), will help the private sector minimise the risks to company assets.

The guidance builds on a key objective within the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy to work hand in hand with industry and make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do online business.

Cyber Security Guidance for Business consists of three products:

  • The first product is aimed at senior executives. It offers some high level questions which we believe will assist and support them to determine their critical information assets, support them in their strategic level risk discussions and help them ensure that they have the right safeguards and cultures in place
  • The second product is an Executive Companion which discusses how Cyber Security is one of the biggest challenges that business and the wider UK economy face today. It offers guidance for business on how together we can make the UK’s networks more resilient and protect key information assets against cyber threats. The document focuses around key points of risk management and corporate governance and includes some anonymous case studies based on real events
  • The third product supports the Executive Companion and provides more detailed cyber security information and advice for 10 critical areas (covering both technical and process/cultural areas). If implemented as a set it can substantially reduce the cyber risk by helping to prevent or deter the majority of types of attacks. For each of these 10 areas, we have summarised the issue, outlined the potential risks and provided some practical measures and advice to reduce these risks. The material integrates the “Top 20 Critical Controls for Effective Cyber Defence” as endorsed by CPNI. These controls provide further detailed guidance.

The guidance builds on comments by the Foreign Secretary at the end of the London Conference for Cyberspace (2nd November 2011), in which he emphasised that cyberspace must be secure and reliable so that it is trusted for online business, and that innovators are confident that their discoveries will be appropriately protected. Another theme was the importance of government and industry taking a shared responsibility towards the prevention of cyber crime

Further news on cyber security will be covered by the Parliamentary Year book and there will be a major feature on the topic in the next edition

Web: www.parliamentaryyearbook.co.uk

Email: parliamentaryyearbook@blakemedia.org

6th September 2012

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Setback To Plans To Outlaw Cheap Alcohol

The Parliamentary Yearbook has been monitoring progress in Government policy relating to alcohol misuse for major features on the topic in the next edition of the publication

In evidence to MPs last week, the Office of Fair Trading warned that the Government’s plans to outlaw cheap alcohol could result in supermarkets being encouraged to sell more rather than less drink.

The Government’s alcohol strategy sets out proposals to crack down on the ‘binge drinking’ culture in our country; cut the alcohol-fuelled violence and disorder that blights too many of our communities; and slash the number of people drinking to damaging levels.

The strategy includes commitments to:

  • introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol
  • consult on a ban on the sale of multi-buy alcohol discounting
  • introduce stronger powers for local areas to control the density of licensed premises including making the impact on health a consideration for this
  • pilot innovative sobriety schemes to challenge alcohol-related offending

Figures today show an ever-growing cost of alcohol to the NHS which currently stands at £2.7bn a year, including £1bn on accident and emergency services. £2.7bn equates to £90 for every taxpayer in the country. This is part of a wider cost to society from alcohol of between £17 billion and £22 billion per annum. In 2010/11 alone there were 200,000 hospital admissions with a primary alcohol-related diagnosis, 40 per cent higher than in 2002/03. The number of patients admitted with acute intoxification has more than doubled to 18,500 since 2002/03.

However the Office of Fair Trading is concerned that shops will have an incentive to promote their cheapest range of drinks because they will benefit from higher margins on these products. The watchdog said that supermarkets and the drinks industry would gain additional profit from every unit of low-cost alcohol that they sell.

The OFT is also worried that the Government’s interference in prices will set a dangerous precedent to undermine free market forces. It found that similar price controls in France and Ireland meant that had a higher cost of living.

The watchdog said in its evidence:

“By legitimising intervention to control prices in a competitive market, it will be harder for the Government to resist calls for similar measures in other parts of the retail sector in future.”

The OFT also believes that a simple tax per unit on items sold would be better than minimum pricing since this would not encourage supermarkets to sell more alcohol.

The House of Commons Health Select Committee in its report on the Government’s Alcohol Strategy published last month supported the decision to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. On this question, the Committee Chair, the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, said:

“The Committee supports the decision to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol , but the Government needs to recognise that setting the price is not a one-off event. A transparent process must be put in place in order to ensure that the price level is evidence-based and is monitored over time to assess its effectiveness.

“We also recommend that there should be a ‘sunset clause’ on the implementation of a minimum price so that it only remains in place if it is shown to be effective in reducing harmful drinking.”

“Striking the right balance on alcohol consumption is not straight forward. Most people enjoy alcohol without evidence of significant harm to their health, yet it is not possible to define what is a generally safe level of consumption as alcohol affects different people in different ways. Individuals who drink alcohol and the companies which sell it have an obligation to do so in a way which respects the rights and interests of their fellow citizens,” adds Stephen Dorrell.

The Home Office is due to give more detail on the plans for minimum pricing later in the year and the Parliamentary Year book will continue to report on Government action to curb alcohol misuse over the months ahead.

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The Queen’s Awards For Enterprise

The Parliamentary Yearbook is, in recognition of UK business commercial success and outstanding achievement, carrying a major feature in the next edition on the Queen’s awards for Enterprise, the UK’s most prestigious awards for business.

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk last week called on the most innovative companies in the UK to step forward to be in with a chance of winning a prestigious business award from Her Majesty the Queen.

The Minister made the call for companies to enter the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise as some of the most innovative regional firms showcased their talents at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in Sheffield.

The Queen’s Awards Scheme, originally known as ‘The Queen’s Award to Industry’, was instituted by Royal Warrant in 1966 following the recommendations of a committee chaired by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The purpose of the scheme was to encourage UK businesses to innovate and export more to help the UK out of an adverse balance of payments situation that was prevalent at the time. The awards have been in existence for over 40 years, and they continue to be the UK’s most prestigious awards for business performance. In today’s global economy, where the rate of change and the level of competition are unprecedented, it is important that the UK continues to be highly flexible and innovative to ensure future wealth creation and continued growth in the UK economy.

The awards are made annually by HM The Queen, and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category. They are judged to a demanding level and winners receive a number of benefits and worldwide recognition. Previous corporate winners have come from a diverse selection of business sectors and have included large and small businesses. Recipients of the individual award have been from varied social and professional backgrounds.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are bestowed by Her Majesty The Queen in three categories: Innovation, International Trade and Sustainable Development.

The Awards provide global recognition that a company is amongst the best in its field. Winning can boost staff morale, lead to an increase in sales and improve media coverage. All winners can display the Awards emblem for five years and are invited to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace. Winners also receive a Grant of Appointment certificate and a crystal chalice.

There is also an award for individuals – the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion – for which people are free to nominate others who they believe are worthy of recognition for promoting enterprise.

Some of this year’s winners are presenting their products to the public in South Yorkshire. The displays include recycled fabrics from Camira Fabrics Ltd and specialised industrial clothing from Microgard Ltd. The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise showcase will be on display from Friday, 17 August until Tuesday, 4 September at BIS, St Paul’s Place, Sheffield.

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:

“The quality of winners from the 2012 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise was the highest ever, with over 200 companies being recognised across the UK, and 20 alone from Yorkshire and the Humber. The companies on display in Sheffield are a credit to local and national business as their determination and success will help boost the UK economy.

“The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise can make a real difference to a business’s prospects and provide national recognition for outstanding achievements. I would encourage companies from across the UK to apply for next year’s awards and make 2013 even more successful than this record breaking year of enterprise.”

Entry is now open for the 2013 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and will close on Friday, 28 September 2012. The winners of the 2012 awards have been invited to attend a special reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, 13 November.

This year the Government is running the Business in You campaign to inspire more people to start or grow their business backed by a range of existing business support services provided by the public and private sectors.

The companies that are taking part in the Sheffield showcase are; Boxford Ltd, King Cole Ltd, Melett Ltd, Camira Fabrics Ltd, Microgard Ltd and Pace.

The Government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.’ It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ published at Budget 2011:

  • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.

Further news on the Awards will be covered by the Parliamentary Year book and there will be a major feature on the topic in the next edition

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Waste Management Medals Table

The Parliamentary Yearbook has reported over the years on industrial and domestic waste management and recycling and is currently gathering news items for a major feature in the next edition

A new report on how Member States manage their municipal waste shows startling differences across the EU. The report grades the 27 Member States against 18 criteria, using green, orange and red flags in areas such as total waste recycled, pricing of waste disposal, and infringements of European legislation. The resulting scoreboard forms part of an on-going study that will help Member States improve their waste management performance. Top of the table are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, none of which have more than 2 red flags. But the pattern is reversed at the other end of the scale, where green flags are scarce.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said:

“The picture that emerges from this exercise confirms my strong concerns. Many Member States are still landfilling huge amounts of municipal waste – the worst waste management option – despite better alternatives, and despite structural funds being available to finance better options. Valuable resources are being buried, potential economic benefits are being lost, jobs in the waste management sector are not being created, and human health and the environment suffer. This is hard to defend in our present economic circumstances.”

The Member States with the largest implementation gaps are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Failings include poor or non-existent waste prevention policies, a lack of incentives to divert waste from landfills, and inadequate waste infrastructure. Heavy reliance on landfilling means that better waste management options such as re-use and recycling are consistently underexploited. The outlook is accordingly poor.

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden by contrast have comprehensive waste collection systems and landfill less than 5% of their waste. They have well developed recycling systems, sufficient treatment capacity, and they perform well with biodegradable waste. Typically, they blend legal, administrative and economic instruments to good effect in their waste management policies.

A number of Member States have made rapid progress from reliance on landfill to its virtual elimination. But even the best performers face a number of challenges such as stepping up waste prevention and addressing overcapacity in the incineration sector, which may hamper recycling and require imports of waste to feed incinerators.

In January this year Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik announced that, according to a European Commission study, full implementation of EU waste legislation would save €72 billion a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by €42 billion and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020. Illegal waste operations in Member States are causing missed opportunities for economic growth, but stronger national inspections and better knowledge about waste management would bring major improvements.

Mr Potočnik said at the time:

“We need to see waste as a resource – and to bury that resource in the ground is worse than short-sighted. This report shows that waste management and recycling can make a big contribution to economic growth and job creation. If the existing legislation was implemented properly, we could avoid costly clean-up operations, pollution and health problems. And let’s not forget that recycled materials are cheaper than virgin ones – and that they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on imports.”

The study gave an in-depth analysis of the effects of better implementation and enforcement and shows that benefits would be significant. It analysed a number of case studies in Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands to demonstrate economic, financial and social benefits to Member States.

The EU’s waste management and recycling sector is very dynamic, but still offers economic opportunities with vast potential for expansion. In 2008, its €145 billion turnover represented around 1% of the EU’s GDP and 2 million jobs. Compliance with EU policy would help create a sector with 2.4 million jobs and a total annual turnover of €187 billion.

The underlying problem is that too many prices do not reflect the true cost of disposal of goods – if they did, this would help prevent waste in the first place. In addition, many Member States still lack adequate infrastructure for separate collection, recycling and recovery. An absence of systematic control and enforcement mechanisms is another hindrance, coupled with a lack of reliable data on waste management.

The EU’s economy uses 16 tonnes of materials per person per year, of which 6 tonnes becomes waste, half of it going to landfill. Many Member States rely mainly on landfill as the preferred waste management option. This situation persists in spite of existing EU waste legislation and is unsustainable.

The Commission’s Roadmap for Resource Efficiency sets out milestones for ensuring that waste is managed as a resource by 2020 including through the revision of prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery and landfill-diversion targets, and through the development of markets for secondary and recycled materials.

The Commission is using the medal table report to prepare Roadmaps for the ten worst performing Member States. These will be discussed with national authorities at bilateral seminars this autumn, starting in Prague on 19 September. The Roadmaps will help spread best practices and will contain tailor-made recommendations on how to improve waste management using economic, legal and administrative tools, and EU structural funds.

The Commission is looking to use EU structural funds with a greater focus on the objectives of EU waste policy. The proposed Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 will ensure that EU money is only invested in waste management projects if certain conditions are met beforehand, including the development of Waste Management Plans in accordance with the Waste Framework Directive and with the waste hierarchy, favouring prevention, reuse and recycling over incineration with energy recovery, with landfilling or incineration without energy recovery as a last resort.

The Parliamentary Year book will continue to report on environmental issues and their impact on the UK and our European partners as we go through the months ahead.

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The Green Deal

The Parliamentary Yearbook is currently gathering news items for major features on sustainable energy and climate change in the next edition and has been monitoring progress following the  Energy Act last year

A £7m loan from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to The Green Deal Finance Company (TGDFC) has been agreed today that will allow TGDFC to continue developing its offer of low cost finance, expected to be available early in 2013. Green Deal Providers will be able to access finance through TGDFC, enabling them to offer low cost finance packages to consumers upgrading their homes under the Green Deal.

The Green Deal Finance Company is a not-for-profit company incorporated in March this year. It was set up to investigate how to provide the lowest cost finance to the Green Deal, to enable a competitive market and maximise the Green Deal measures that can be implemented across the United Kingdom.

The Green Deal is a Government-sponsored framework to allow private firms to offer all UK consumers (households, communities and workplaces) energy efficient improvements to their buildings. Consumers will pay back the cost of such improvements through the resulting savings in their energy bills.

At the heart of the Green Deal is the rule that savings on bills will exceed the cost of the work. By meeting this Golden Rule, customers will get energy savings for free. Consumers will pay back the cost of such improvements through the expected savings in their energy bills. Improvements can include measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation, innovative hot water systems, condensing boilers and may also include more costly measures such as solar thermal energy or solid wall insulation.

The aim of The Green Deal Finance Company is to provide the lowest cost of finance to the market place, which in turn will mean the widest range of energy efficient measures can meet the Golden Rule, which of course is significantly impacted by the underlying cost of finance. Its membership, once operational, will be open to all market participants with a view to funding Green Deal Providers to deliver the Green Deal. Its existing membership is already representative of the whole market and they anticipate a far wider group of companies joining as members leading up to the Green Deal “go live” in October this year.

The Green Deal is also being considered as an early candidate for the use of infrastructure guarantees, Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced today. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to working with the private sector to provide finance at a low but sustainable cost to Green Deal customers. Infrastructure guarantees will provide guarantees for major UK infrastructure projects and could potentially support up to £40 billion of investment.

From today, the register for Green Deal Providers, Assessors and Installers will also open. The register will give the seal of approval to businesses that successfully go through the Green Deal authorisation process.

All authorised Green Deal Providers, Assessors and Installers will have to display the new Green Deal Quality Mark to demonstrate they comply with the required Green Deal standards. This will be vital for protecting customers from any rogue traders. Only registered and authorised businesses will be able to use this mark.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

“I’m delighted to announce a number of important developments for the Green Deal today. The opening of the Green Deal register will enable businesses to start becoming Green Deal authorised and the Green Deal Quality Mark will show they have met our standards. Crucially, this will protect consumers, who will know that anyone displaying the Quality Mark has been through the required process to become authorised.

“The loan we have agreed with The Green Deal Finance Company will help them to undertake essential development and be ready to offer finance to Green Deal Providers in early 2013.”

Businesses wishing to become Green Deal Providers can apply directly online to become authorised, while accredited certification bodies will be able to submit the details of Assessors and Installers to be authorised.

New guidance is available on the DECC website which clearly explains what is required to get the Green Deal Quality Mark and to become an authorised Provider. This complements existing guidance setting out how to become an authorised Assessor or Installer.

The Green Deal will open up the energy efficiency market, empowering new players, including small and medium sized businesses, to enter and innovate. The Green Deal initially covers 45 different improvements for domestic and non-domestic buildings and is expected to support up to 60,000 jobs in the insulation sector alone by 2015.

The Parliamentary Year book will continue to report on environmental issues and their impact on the UK as we go through the months ahead.

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Post-Olympic Tourism Campaign

The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook is currently gathering news items for major features on the economic importance of our tourism and travel industries in the next edition. We reported earlier in the year on the launch and progress of the GREAT campaign and are now following closely the impact of the Olympics on the industry

In February this year, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt launched Britain’s biggest ever tourism campaign.

VisitBritain’s GREAT campaign aims to attract an extra 4.6 million extra visitors to the UK over the next four years, securing an additional £2.3 billion in visitor spend. The UK will be in the world spotlight this year, and the GREAT campaign is part of the UK Government’s drive to make the most of this opportunity as the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee and the country hosts the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

The strategy, set out earlier this week  by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a speech to tourism leaders, shows how the Government will work with the industry to make sure that the UK makes the very most of being in the global spotlight this year.

An £8 million marketing campaign aiming to triple the number of Chinese tourists visiting the UK, further investment in domestic tourism, plus increased sport and cultural tourism are at the heart of a renewed drive to create a lasting tourism legacy from the success of London 2012.

The key planks of the strategy will include:

  • Investing £8 million to expand the GREAT marketing campaign from 2013 – with a strong focus on China, aiming to triple the number of visitors from this key growth market. This has the potential to generate more than £500 million in extra visitor spend and create more than 14,000 new jobs.
  • Investing a further £2 million in domestic tourism marketing, to be increased with match funding from the industry, to build on the success of VisitEngland’s 20.12 per cent ‘Holiday at Home’ campaign.
  • Doubling the number of domestic package breaks being booked online by asking VisitEngland to bring together website retailers, car rental groups, train companies, airlines and hotel groups.
  • Exploiting the role of sport as a magnet for tourists by making the most of the opportunities of hosting upcoming world cups in rugby league, rugby union, and cricket – as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the World
    Athletic Championships in 2017.
  • A new focus on developing cultural tourism by looking at how the UK can build on the extraordinary success of Festival 2012. Mr Hunt has asked Tony Hall (Chair, London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Board) and Ruth Mackenzie (Director, London Festival 2012) to look at the feasibility of a ‘London or UK-wide Biennale’ – a biannual arts festival to celebrate the best of our culture.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said:

“The Olympics have been for Britain what Usain Bolt is for athletics – something that grabs the attention of the whole world and refuses to let it go. From the wonder of Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony to the most incredible sporting achievements, the Games have been a fantastic showcase for our country. We must use this extraordinary year to turbo-charge our tourism industry, to create jobs and prosperity on the back of a globally-enhanced reputation.”

These new initiatives will continue to capitalise on the huge success of the GREAT campaign, launched by the Prime Minister last year, to capitalise on the economic benefits of the Games across 17 key international cities, and promote Britain as the best place in the world to invest, visit and study.

VisitBritain’s campaign will target nine countries worldwide, with adverts appearing in 14 key cities: Beijing, Berlin, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto. Around 70 per cent of the population in each of the target cities will see the advertising on billboards, TV, or in the cinema.

The Parliamentary Year book will assess the result of the campaign and the effect this has as it becomes evident. This will form part of a major feature in the next edition

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