Barry Stone – County Councillor for the Loddon Division
Parish Council Report – February 2016
Over the last couple of weeks Committees have been reviewing their budgets and one by one compromising on strategy for the next year and beyond.
Adult Health and Social Care
In Norfolk by 2026, one in three of our population will be aged over 60, and 18,000 people will be aged over 90, compared with 10,300 today. Whilst many enjoy good health, there are above rates of prevalence for people living with chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and stroke.
Demographic and social changes are generating ever-increasing demand for services, particularly health and social care. These trends of the last five years point to an urgent need for re-design of health and social care systems. People are living longer with multiple chronic conditions, so there is a need to shift residential to community care.
Early help and prevention both in Adult and Children’s services are focusing far more on prevention services. We are investing £1.5million in re-ablement services for adult social care. This ensures that people admitted to hospital will get support to go home and better still, to remain at home in the first place.
Promoting Independence is based on preventing or delaying the need for funded social care services or hospital. It aims to manage demand by finding local community solutions for individuals and families. The strategy requires a different approach to social work, which seeks to build on the strengths and assets in someone’s life, rather than focusing on what they cannot do.
Current proposals involve investment in early help for families, clearer accountability for social work, and more staff based in localities. Children’s Services will continue strengthen social work practice through ‘signs of safety’ – an approach which focuses on strengths and assets and aims to support families before their problems get too difficult, and put our teams back in communities.
A major recommendation from the committee was to reinstate the proposed £80.000+ earmarked for youth services and to rethink the way these services were delivered.
There are major infrastructure challenges for the county; road and rail investment still seen as lagging behind other parts of the country.
Interestingly Norfolk has the only park and ride facility in England that does not require ongoing taxpayer subsidy.
We are merging our fleet across transport, libraries and street scene. This will enable us to run a 24/7 workshop that could potentially trade with the private sector, for example, providing MOTs for HGVs and LGV. We estimate we can save at least £0.5m each year and potentially earn more externally. These are just two of many examples.
Libraries are making the most of technology and self-service – such as in libraries. Open-plus technology investment will allow swipe card entry to some libraries out of hours, to reduce running costs, as well as seeing if there are other services that can be run from library buildings.
To enable us to sustain services, we’re proposing an increase in Council Tax by up to 3.99% – incorporating an increase of 2% to provide ring-fenced funding for adult social care services (the social care precept), plus a general Council Tax increase of up to 1.99%.
In addition, a whole range of other services, including the museums, the record office, the historic environment service and Norfolk’s libraries, had all been targeted with cutbacks. Recycling centres at Heacham, Ashill and Morningthorpe were having their opening hours reduced while all centres across Norfolk were no longer to have bank holiday opening.
In a series of meetings this week, however, the opposition group on the council proposed to reverse these cuts, and to set up a special highways maintenance and small projects fund, totalling at least £1.5m, to tackle pot holes and other highways problems across Norfolk.
Savings through efficiencies, staff transfers and staff reductions 20%
Between 2011 and 2016, the Council will have made savings of £245m, many have been through efficiencies and staff transfers; the Council’s directly employed staff has reduced by about 20% between 2010 and 2014.
NHS Health Check
NCC’s Public Health team is urging everyone to think about their long-term health and take up the opportunity to have a free NHS Health Check. This year’s awareness-raising campaign has launched this month encouraging those eligible to have a free Health Check. The NHS Health Checks, funded by the county council, are considered as a mid-life MOT. They let you know your personal risk of developing certain illnesses and what you can do to reduce that risk and have a more active and healthy future. They are available, free, for 40 to 74 year-olds who have not been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or a stroke and are accessible at most GP surgeries and at over 50 pharmacies across Norfolk. They take up to 30 minutes, you can have one once every five years and it is free of charge. For more information about NHS Health Checks visit: www.healthcheck.nhs.uk