LGA CWB TLAP BCC – how’s that for Local Gov speak!

TLAP LogoToday I reach a small milestone in my blogging as this is my 300th blog, probably does not mean much to you but it seems a long way from when I first logged into word press, set up an account and well had a go. If you’re one of those kind people who follow it, thanks for reading. I do try to be as brief as possible, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. Hopefully it gives a bit of an insight into the things I get involved in and am passionate about.

Speaking of which, last Wednesday I was in London representing the LGA Community Wellbeing Board at two meetings firstly the Building Community Capacity steering group and later at the TLAP Board Meeting. I wanted to be a part of the Building Community Capacity work as it is very much what I started in Suffolk as we came up with the Supporting Lives Connecting Communities Programme (SLCC) about how the Council can develop services that communities truly need that compliment rather than crush the work that existing in Communities now and to help build community based services where there are none. In short how to delivery more services to an ever growing number of people who need care services but with less money with which to do so.

In the afternoon, the main Board meeting took place, where I am able to give the programme a sense of what Local Government and Councillors need from the various work streams and how the reports and initiatives its provides and funds can help Local Government can make its services more relevant and personal to those who need them.

The latest papers to shortly be available from their web site and being launched at this week’s National Adult and Children’s Conference in Manchester are called ‘Shaping the future- information, advice and brokerage in the context of the Care Act’  – essentially 3 reports co-badged with ADASS, DH and LGA to support the Care Act implementation.

I’ll pop the links to those papers up when they are on the TLAP website, the other recent ones that I think are useful reading are:

‘Getting Serious about personalisation in the NHS’ – Partner publication to the IPC (integrated Personal Commissioning) with ADASS LGA and NHS England http://bit.ly/1rxvKeD

‘No Assumption: a narrative for personalisation, co-ordinated care and support in Mental Health’ – with National Voices and NHS England http://bit.ly/1ywCMoU

‘A Wealth of information: your questions on personal health budgets answered’ – NHS Confederation briefing produced in partnership with TLPA http://bit.ly/1mG7gPW

Seaside Fun

Polling StationToday is, for many, the start of the new school year and in some ways this is true of Local Government as well, this first week of September is when the Councillors come back after summer holidays and focus on the budget setting process. Of course just as soon as the previous year’s budget is put to bed the process starts again but the follow February always seems to loom larger once the summer is out of the way.

Speaking of things that loom larger, this coming year is also election year at both the local district and national level.

At FHDC we Conservatives are now firmly in the manifesto stage of looking at our strong track record of delivery over the past four years and just what can we put forward as our platform for the coming term and I hope to play a full and active part in that process.

As always there are somewhat bigger issues about and principally South Yorkshire should be a focus for Councillors across the country as the failings of Children’s services at Rotherham and terrible abuse that has taken place is investigated, rightly it should have been the entire focus of last week’s domestic news agenda but as Harold Macmillan once famously said “Events, dear boy, events”, and last week’s surprise announcement by Douglas Carswell was certainly one of those. In some ways not that much of a surprise as he was the bookie’s favour to be the first to cross to UKIP, given his views, but it certainly was a moment.

As Nigel Farage said in his various interviews last week it’s a defining moment for UKIP, some would say the Conservative Party but not me. Let’s face it beyond the decision to defect, Douglas Carswell decision to stand down and seek re-election is a calculated move. If he crossed the floor and did not go to the polls he would simply have been swept aside by a high general election turn out in a strong Conservative seat in 2015. Now he’ll use the by-election, the armies of political supporters it brings and the nature of by-elections so close to a general election being about sending messages to the incumbent government, to try to keep his job.

If the polling out there is to be believed and one poll had a swing to UKIP from Conservatives at 44% coupled with a lower turn out as always occurs, however much the various parties encourage people to vote, then he may well do precisely that. But that does not deflect from the core message residents of Clacton and voters across country have to face up to at the general election ‘Vote UKIP and get Labour’, by-elections are one thing  but top slice the Conservative vote in marginal seats in May 2015 and Labour will be the only winners. One maverick MP, one by-election, all the excitement of the ‘political fairground’ that will be going on in Clacton however much it will fill the news agenda of the coming weeks does not change this simple fact.

So for all the fun to come, the serious issue remains the Economy and the danger that 5 years after almost bankrupting this county the very same people are proposing to get the keys back. Equally Labour would not hold a referendum and anyone who wants the question of Europe resolved knows, as will take place in Oct 2017 if a Conservative Government is returned, we need a referendum. Firstly to allow David Cameron to have the leverage to re-negotiate terms and secondly for the issue to be put to the vote once and for all. A vote for UKIP in May 2015 would have the possibility to achieve the exact opposition of what UKIP want, what’s that saying – ‘it’s a funny old world’.

Budget Day 2013 – Council Tax record and pledge – 0%, 0%, 0%, then 0%, 0%, 0%, 0%

On Thursday Suffolk Council Councillors came together for our annual debate on the Budget and indeed this year’s had added poignancy in that we are some 10 weeks off our County elections.

The debate was its usual lively and uncompromising self, as we Conservatives set out our spending plans for the next year protecting front line service and delivering value for money for every single penny of Council Tax payer’s money we spend and at the same time dealing with the continued reductions in Government grants.

We also announced that if elected we will Freeze the Council Tax for the whole of the next 4 year term, that certainly ‘through’ the opposition and it was interesting to watch them try to counter it, failing spectacularly in the process.

We have been accused by some of electioneering which I find a very curious comment indeed, if you are, as we all are, out on the door step and people are telling us how hard it is and worried they are about their household budgets, a comment I have heard time and time again; surely pledging to live within our means, not demand more and more of their hard earned money in Council Tax is just the right thing to do?

We pledged that we will protect frontline services and if you read the budget book we have clearly set out our vision as to how we are going to go about this; in my area of responsibility we have reduced our expenditure in real term by tens of millions of pounds each year, we have gone from a department of 4,000 staff to 1,000 staff, we have created 4 mutuals most of which are now part of the EADT top 50 to watch grow, and we have transferred our Care Homes to Care UK are bring in £60Million of investment in 10 brand new state of the art homes extending the offer to their residents of nursing as well as social care; we are finding new ways of working with communities and embracing both the transfer of Public Health to the Council but also a far better and involved working relationship with Doctors and HealthCare Providers through Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board.

A track record of 3 years of 0% and a pledge of 0% for 4 more years – that’s what voting Conservative in the County elections in May means. That’s called treating the hard earned money of Council Tax payer’s with respect.

Health and Well Being Boards Tool Kit

One of the most interesting thinks I am involved in at the moment is the thinking behind the Health and Well Being Boards.

I am a part of the NHS National Learning Set work and sit in the Collaborative  Leadership work stream and we regularly come together to work on what in the NHS are called products which in the Local Government world are simply called papers and tools.

Whilst there is a great deal of controversy about the various aspects of the Health reforms; the one element that has not has a word of criticism is the Boards as I think everyone agrees they are going to be extremely important in the way in which the health and social care system improves.

As we roll out the work that will take us the better part of a year’s worth of meetings, virtual meetings and a number of workshop days I will post these on my blog for anyone interesting to go and have a read.

Yesterday I was invited to The King’s Fund, to take place in a slightly different day as the LGA and NHS do a body of co-creational round ‘Designing a Development tool for Health and Well Being Boards’.

The day was opened by John Wilderspin who effectively leads for the Department of Health on this important subject and during the course of the day we heard from a wide range of professional setting up Boards and from great thinkers such as Richard Humphries from The Kings Fund who speaks with great wisdom on how we move things forward. For my part I was one of only two Councillors there and it was a privilege to feed in some of the thinking on the Local Government side of things from a Councillor prospective.

At times this whole agenda seems a bit like the Hadron Collider in the two worlds are most definitely colliding and the learning about the other is quite fascinating. Essential I think it’s fair to say we all think that something amazing might just come of it but are not absolutely sure what yet.

 

There is no doubt that in social care we need to need to do things differently and that’s why I presented a new vision and strategy to the Cabinet in Suffolk in February and a big part of this is how we work better with Health colleagues and design a system for the journey the journey all of us will go on at some point in our lives as we need help for our Doctors, Consultants, Community Nurses and social care providers.

To be in at the very start of the journey is quite something and I hope my tiny contribution to the learning and shaping is of some benefit.

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