UK Government Agencies
Reviews and ratings of quality, hand-picked, UK websites

Government Services
Headers: Britons abroad, Businesses, Employment, Health and Well-Being, Home and community, Learning, Money, Over 50s, A-Z of central government, A-Z of local councils, N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Do it Online, Parents, Motorists, Disabled People and Carers
This is the government gateway site from where you can link to most government departments and local councils. You can also search the 1901 census here, but they do charge if you actually want information on people or places. Other things you can do online from here is to renew your passport, access school performance tables, get information on energy saving, register to vote, report a minor crime, do your self-assessment online, make a complaint to Trading Standards, book a driving theory test, buy a TV licence and much more......... For example, you can search the British Tourist Authority database. There simply isn't room here to list all the services, information and advice pages available - just off to buy a fishing licence. Well worth a browse around.

The 1901 Census for England & Wales
Tantalisingly you can search for free, but if you want more information on an individual you will have to pay. Not too expensive, though, at 50p per person.  Minimum credit to pay is £5 but you can use this over 7 days.

British Council: Education Counselling Service
Headers: Learning, Arts, Science, Society
This is the education arm of the British Council which is the UK's principal overseas cultural relations agency. Its aim is to promote UK educational institutions in a variety of countries overseas. Institutions can obtain membership application forms online. The site contains a lot of general information on UK involvement on overseas student recruitment.

Citizens Advice Bureau
Headers: Benefits, Employment, Tax, Debt, Family, Health, Housing, Education, Communicaitons, Consumer Affairs, Travel, Civil Rights, Immigraiton, Legal System
Excellent site that gives basic information on a whole raft of issues to do with daily life, from the pros and cons of debt management companies, to dealing with bailiffs, to detailing your rights as a consumer.

Council for National Parks - Park Websites
Headers: National Parks
Click on any of the parks and you will get information on where to stay, what to do and see, travel and where to eat. There are also publications for sale with more detailed information on various aspects of the parks.

Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000
A summary of CROW can be found on the Ramblers Association website.

Countryside Council for Wales
Headers: Our work, News, Events & Meetings, Places to visit, Offices & People, Publications & Research
The Countryside Council for Wales is the wildlife conservation authority for Wales, with the responsibily for reporting to government. Their work encompasses a range of areas from earth sicence to wildlife protection to marine environments, and the site contains detailed, easily assessible and very readable, information on the work they do. The site also has advice and information, including maps, on the 67 nature reserves, 3 national trails and thousands of public footpaths throughout Wales.

Headers: Animal Health & Welfare, Environmental Protection, Exports & Trade, Farming, Marine & fisheries, Food & Drink, Horticulture, Plants & Seeds, Research & analysis, Rural Affairs, Sustainable Development, Wildlife & Countryside
Department for environment, food and rural affairs has a huge number of articles on topics ranging from organic farming methods to affordable rural housing. If you are looking for information on anything to do with the countryside, make this one of your first ports of call.

Department for Education and Skills
Headers: News Centre, Popular Questions, Publications, FoI Publications Scheme, Research, Consultations, Our Strategy to 2006, Speeches, Statistics, Inside the Department, Cymraeg/Welsh, Links
The official government site for education. Find out what the government are up to by reading all the latest speeches on education.

Department of Health - Travel
Headers: Introduction, Latest health updates, General health advice, Planning ahead, Getting treatment
Information for travellers from the Department of Health regarding staying healthy and getting medical treatment elsewhere in the world.

Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Headers: Better Business Framework, Europe & World Trade, Business Sectors, Innovation, Employment Matters, Regional Economic Development, Energy, Science
This is actually the Department of Trade and Industry under a new name. Although it sounds as if this is just for business there is something of interest for everyone - see their list of Consumer Factsheets for example. Click on the site index for a full rundown of everything on the website.

Headers: Tax on Savings & Investments
Directgov (the government's online portal) offers useful information on tax on savings, including tax on bank and building society accounts, investing with ISAs, tax on UK dividends and tax on the sale of shares.

Direct Gov - Motoring
Headers: Driver Licensing, Learner & New Drivers, Buting & Selling a Vehicle, Owning a Vehicle, Road Safety, Vehicle Crime
This is an official government site containing advice and information for motorists on driving and car ownership. There is advice for learners and you can even take an "official mock theory test" and book your driving test online.

Directgov - Travel Services
Headers: Travelling Abroad, Travel in the UK
There is a lot of useful information here for travellers and motorists. For example, if you are thinking of travelling abroad and want to know if there are any vaccinations needed, or if you are looking for current traffic information, you will find the answer here. The public transport information section works very well.

English Nature
Headers: Wildlife, Publications & Maps, Special sites, Nature on the Map, Lathkill Dale NNR virtual tour, SSSI information, Volunteer information, Geological sites, Nature for Schools
English Nature is a government agency with the aim of conserving wildlife, geology and wild places in England. There is detailed information on all areas of England. Click on special sites for access details of national and local nature reserves, geological sites plus details of guided walks and events.

Environment Agency
Headers: Air Quality, Conservation, Fish, Flood, Land Quality, Navigation, Recreation, Waste, Water Quality, Water Resources
If you wantto find out what the government initiatives are on a variety of environmental issues, then head forthe Environment Agency. Follow the links to find out what is happen in your region of the country.

Family Records
Headers: Topics, Partners, Guides, Links
If you are new to family history research, you will find the information here very useful. The aim of this website is to help you to find records such as wills, census records, immigration, births, marriages and deaths plus many more. Click on "guides" for useful tips and advice.

Finanacial Services Authority
Headers: Consumer Services, Regulatory Informaiton, Resources
Funded by the financial services industry, The FSA is a non governmental body that regulates the financial services industry in the UK.
A more user friendly and jargon free offshoot of the FSA website that is aimed primarily at consumers is which contains guides concerning everyday financial matters, articles about financial products such as banks accounts, loans, equity release etc. There is also a set of tools that includes mortgage, loan, pension and budget calculators, financial healthcheck and debt test. You can also check the FSA register from here. They also have a section call scams and swindles which contains information on how to protect yourself from unauthorised firms, identity fraud, share scams, chain letters, fake websites and more.

Fit for Travel
Headers: World map, Africa, Asia, Austrasia, Caribbean, Centra America, Europe, Middle East, North America, South America
This is a public access website provided by the Scottish NHS and provides health information for travellers worldwide. It gives safety advice and details of any health concerns for travellers and all the immunisations you will need.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office - Travel
Headers: Travel Advice, Trade & Investment, Legalisation, Online Services
You can get expert help on getting started in international trade, information on how to get documents legalised, and an extensive travel section. The Travel Advice section gives information about all countries regarding crime, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health issues, contact details and general travel tips. You can even access travel advice from other governments. There is also a section about what you should do/what happens if things go horribly wrong whilst you are away - for example if you should find yourself jail!

FSA - Consumer Information
Headers: Savings and Investments, What types are there?, How do I shop around?, What are my rights?, Top tips
The FSA website has useful information on savings and investments, including shares, investment funds, pooled investments and ISAs. The FSA(Financial Services Authority) is a government instituted body with powers to regulate financial services in the UK.

Healthcare Commission
Advice for peole considering cosmetic surgery, from the Healthcare Commssion, which is the independent inspection body for the NHS and for private healthcare.

Highways Agency
Headers: Traffic Information England - Current Traffic Conditions, Traffic Forecaster
Traffic condtions for the whole of England.

Land Registry - Property Price
Headers: General Notes, On-line Data, Published Reports, Bespoke Reports
Useful if you want to find the latest average property prices for your region in England or Wales. You can search by post code or county.

Land Registry Direct
Government agency that gives you access to over 19 million registers of title covering the great majority of properties in England and Wales. A small fee is charged for each document displayed.

Legal Services Commission
Headers: Members of the Public, Community Legal Services, Criminal Defence Service
This is the government department that looks after legal aid in England and Wales. It details how to find legal information and help for members of the public plus information for The Community Legal Service and The Criminal Defence Service. Scottish vistors might find the Scottish Legal Aid Board more useful, whereas the readers in Northern Ireland should visit Legal Services Commission for Northern Ireland.

National Archives
Headers: Start Your Research, Catalogues, Online Records, Quick Order, Education, Bookshop, Events.
The National Archives is a new organisation comprising The Public Record Office (PRO) and the Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC). Together they comprise one of the largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1000 years of British history, from the Doomsday Book to government papers recently released to the public. The PRO has another website called documents online which allows you online access to The National Archives' collection of digitised public records, including both academic and genealogical sources. Searching the index is free, but it costs £3.50 to download a digital image of a document. Both the PRO and the HMC have plenty of free services for people visiting in person. On the web though, you are far more likely to have to pay for it.

National Savings & Investments
Headers: Premium Bonds, ISAs, Savings Certificates, Childen's Bonus Bonds, Income Bonds, Capital Bonds, Equity Bonds, Investment Account, Savings Account, Ordinary Account
Founded in 1861 as the Post Office Savings Bank, National Savings took on its present name in 1969. It still retains its original purpose of providing a government backed means of saving and of providing the Exchequer with a source of funding. You can now buy a wide variety of financial products in addition to premium bonds plus there is a very useful "Jargon Buster"!

National Statisitics Online - UK Map Collection
Headers: Administrative Geography Maps, Health Geography Maps, Electoral Geography Maps, NUTS/LAUs Area Maps, Maps of Other Geographies
Useful collection of about 30 maps which you can also download as pdf documents. In addition there is also a beginners guide to geography which is "a simple, informative and colourful tour of the main territorial units used in National Statistics work." So, there you are.

NHS Direct Online
Headers: Send Us Your Enquiry, Health Encyclopaedia, Best Treatments Website, Self Help Guide, Local Information, Health Space
Excellent health encyclopaedia and self help information from the NHS. Includes diagnosis, prevention, symptoms and treatments for most health related problems.

NHS Local Services Search
Headers: Dental practices, GP surgeries, Opticians, Pharmacies, Walk-in centres, Hospitals, NHS organisations
Excellent site if you are looking for health services in your local area. Simply choose the service you are looking for and enter your postcode. In addition there is a very useful section called "Are you getting the right treatment" where you will find information and advice on which services you should be looking for.

Northern Ireland Environment & Heritage Service
Headers: Natural Heritage, Environmental protection, Built heritage, Education, Places to visit, Kids zone
The aim of the Environment & Heritage Service is to promote and conserve the natural and built heritage. Therefore there is information on the biodiversity and geology of the area in addition to buildings and monuments. There are 10 country parks described with details of facilities etc plus trail maps. There are details of 12 historic monuments to visit, again with details of facilities and access. Excellent, fast loading site.

Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Headers: Explore, Where to Stay, Things To Do, Entertainment, Travel
This is a nice fast loading site from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Plenty of accomodation links from hotels to campsites plus places to eat and entertainment and events throughout the region. There is an enormous amount of information on where to go and things to do from birdwatching to sailing. Excellent site.

Office of Public Sector Information
Headers: Legislation, Public Sector Information, Click-User Licensing, Information Asset Register, Information Fair Trader Scheme, Official Publications, Discussion Forums
This is what you can get from this website:
Access to UK legislation which is the full text of all public and local acts of Parliament, including explanatory notes, plus Statutory Instruments and Draft Statutory Instruments; and Measures of the General Synod of the Church of England.
RSS feeds for newlegislation
Click user licences whhich are online livences for the re-use of Crown copyright information, public sector information and Parliamentary copyright information
Accessto the Government's Information Asset Registerr which lists information resources held by the government
Information Fair Trader Scheme
HMO Stationary Office

Headers: Reports, Publications, Ofsted news, How we work, Parents, Childcare providers, Schools, Colleges and post-16, Local education authorities, School Inspectors, Inspection Providers
As well as being the government body that oversees school and college inspections, Ofsted offers a great deal of advice and information for anyone with an interest in education in the UK.

Over 50
This is a government site where you can download the government guide "Are you Over 50?" which is a "practical guide to advice, support and services across government".

Scottish Tourist Board
Headers: About Scotland, Accomodation, Travel, What to see and do, Travel trade
There is lots of information about Scotland here including geography, history, arts and culture. There are an enormous number of activites described, from retrotouring at Fort William to sporting activities to wildlife. There are itineraries for people touring Scotland plus descriptions of hundreds of restaurants, cafes and places of interest. The website itself is extremely well designed and easy to use.

Scotland's National Driver Information
Headers: Traffic Information
Run by the Scottish Executive, this site gives up to the minute traffic information for roads in Scotland.

The Insolvency Service
Headers: Bankruptcy, Compulsory Liquidation, Redundancy & Insolvency, Director Disqualification & Restrictions, Companies Investigation Branch, Insolvency Proffession & Legislation, Other Information
Practically all the information you need if you are an individual, a company or a society. There are a huge number of pdf documents you can download for free. There are also several things you can do online such as completeing an appliacation for bankruptcy, finding an official receiver, making a complaint and more.

The Internet Watch Foundation
Headers: News, Safe Surfing, FAQS, Contact, Filtering, Links
This is the official site to which you should make a report if you believe you have found a website or newsgroup, for example, on the internet that contains illegal material. Their remit covers the following categories: Images of child abuse, anywhere in the world, adult material that potentially breaches the Obscene Publications Act in the UK and criminally racist material in the UK. The site also contains hints and tips on how to keep surfing safe.

The Law Centres Federation
Headers: Free Independent Legal Advice
Throughout the UK there are a number of Law Centres which provide free legal advice to individuals and community organisations on such matters as housing, employment, immigration and nationality, discrimination, welfare rights, education, community care and health amongst other types of social welfare law. Use the website to find out where your nearest law centre is.

The Met Office
Headers: Past weather, Latest weather, Forecast weather, Satellite, Tropical cyclones, Seasonal forecasts
The Met Office gives 5 day local forecasts for the UK and worldwide. Lots of weather related information as you would expect, including educational resoures, climate statistics worldwide, information on tropical cyclones, satellite imagery, climate prediction and seasonal forecasts.

The Pension Service
Headers: Money & Tax, ,Health & social services in England, Wales & Scotland, At home in England Wales & Scotland, Learning, Legal services, crime & security, Travel & leisure, Voluntary & paid work, Losing a loved one, Useful contacts, Resource Centre, Guides and Forms
The Pension Service website is operated by the Government and primarily provides information on state and private pensions but also contains lots more information on other subjects such as council tax benefits, housing benefits, cold weather payments, inheritance tax and so forth.

Transport for London/Maps
Headers: Tube, DLR, Buses, River, Streets, Taxi/Private Hire, Coach Station, Trams, rail, Dial-a-Ride
As well as printable tube, bus and river maps, the site also has an interactive tube map - just click on any station and you get details of bus connections, train times, station facilities, station access, travel information centres and for some stations you can get an online area map (printable pdf documents). However, there is much more to this site than just maps, it is packed with information to do with getting around London from cycling to traffic management to the latest news about London Transport.

Traffic Wales Website
Headers: Traffic Information
Run by the Welsh Assembly, this website gives up to the minute traffic information for the roads in Wales. The site is in both English and Welsh.

Welsh Tourist Board
Headers: Places to stay, Things to do, Travel, Maps
The official Wales tourism site. If you're not sure where to visit, or where to stay in Wales, this site such give you lots of ideas, including tours and iteineraries, whatever type of holiday you are looking for. Lots of accomodation links, from hotels to camping sites plus useful travel information. There is also information about the culture, history, sport, food, people and geography of Wales.


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