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Latest news for MPs from Cambridgeshire County Council

Vote now for CCC as the Digital Council 2019

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Cambridgeshire County Council has been shortlisted as one of the top 10 local authorities for Digital Council of the Year 2019 Award. Our nomination as finalist for the Digital Leader 100 came following our transformative digital work over the past year.

Improved language and imagery on our website, and the innovative use of 'Ada the Chatbot' has led to our Contact Centre seeing a 16% reduction in avoidable calls, along with the Adult Social Care team seeing a 25% decrease in requests for care assessments. All of this allows us more time and resource to deal with more vulnerable people who need our direct support.

Evidence on council funding presented to parliamentary inquiry into local government spending

This month, Cambridgeshire County Council contributed a response to the Local Government Finance and the 2019 Spending Review Inquiry (by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee) on potential sector and system-wide improvements that are needed to both processes and funding levels.

Our response was made just in advance of analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research  - reported nationally – which has found that spending on public services in Britain would be higher by £2,500 per person each year if the Government matched comparable European levels of funding.

In our feedback to the inquiry, we highlighted concerns about the speed of necessary reform.  Cambridgeshire County Council believes the need for funding reform is urgent.  We raised concerns that we are becoming increasingly concerned by slow progress to date with key decisions, leaving limited time for appropriate or meaningful financial planning before April 2020.

We also mentioned delays in the Adult Social Care green paper which has been postponed a number of times.  Cambridgeshire has been judged to provide the majority of its services at comparatively low cost compared to our statistical neighbours. This is particularly true in Adult Social Care, our largest area of spend.  This is against a backdrop of growth and high costs of living in parts of the county, in an area which features both pockets of extreme deprivation and rural isolation.

We also highlighted concerns that delays to a new funding formula would mean local government as a whole were less likely to be able to continue to invest in opportunities which would deliver real and continued economic growth.

While we take every opportunity to influence policy on funding in every area open to us, we continue to rely on the influence that you, our MPs, can bring to bear on MHCLG ministers with our funding messages and supporting us in striving for a Fair Deal for Cambridgeshire.

Blazing a trail for family safeguarding

Cambridgeshire County Council has been named as a ‘trailblazing authority’ in the national roll-out of an innovative approach to Children’s Social Care– backed by a share of an £84m Department for Education funding package.

Cambridgeshire will take a leading national role in supporting the Government’s nationwide roll out of Family Safeguarding – an approach that improves outcomes for vulnerable children and young people by involving multi-disciplinary teams in children’s social care. Family Safeguarding was initially developed in Hertfordshire, and has been in place in Peterborough for the past two years where it has helped to keep more children living safely with their families in the city.

Family Safeguarding brings a range of adult practitioners into children’s teams to work alongside social workers. The adult practitioners include those who work with:

  • Adult mental and emotional health issues;
  • Domestic abuse, both in supporting perpetrators to change their behaviour and in supporting victims;
  • Adults who have substance or alcohol misuse issues.

Our Change for Children restructure which was implemented in November 2018 was designed to be ‘Family Safeguarding ready’, with a number of children’s teams focused on working with younger children and their families.

More investment for county's roads

The Government has announced further funding this month which will benefit roads in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Both Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have received the maximum amount of additional road maintenance funding from the Department for Transport (DfT). This funding means £3.1m (£2.5m for Cambridgeshire County Council and £0.6m for Peterborough City Council) has been awarded to both the county and city councils in recognition of making the best use of funds available and prioritising the needs of the public.

The additional DfT money has allowed us to maximise an opportunity for reduced prices through the Highways contract with Skanska, extending our surface dressing programme on the county’s roads, saving approximately £235k.

In the current year already (2019-20), Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have also received extra funding totalling £1m to help prevent and fix potholes.

Find out more about how we repair potholes.

Thinking their way out of trouble

Image by Tomislav Koscak from Pixabay.

In the past month, Secretary of State James Brokenshire launched the latest evaluation findings for the Troubled Families Programme, saying he believed in the programme and wanted to see it go from strength to strength. He also said progress to date was a significant achievement and encouraged MPs to contact their own local Directors of Social Services to find out more.

The Cambridgeshire Troubled Families programme, known as ‘Think Family’, has engaged with 2,698 families facing complex problems.   

Cambridgeshire County Council had made successful, sustained progress for 1,533 of these families by the end of March 2019.  This places us in the top third of areas nationally in meeting the target for proven impact.  We have generated nearly £5.5m for services to Cambridgeshire families from TF claims.

Until 2017, this work was carried out by a dedicated multi-agency team.  Since 2017, we have mainstreamed the work into our Think Family programme, ensuring the approach is used across partner agencies meeting the needs of all service users. 

Oversight is by a partnership governance board, providing models, tools, training, guidance and resources.  We promote a shared approach to assessment and planning.

Troubled Family funding and philosophy is at the centre of our innovative Early Help Hub.

“A recently established Early Help Hub (EHH) is proving to be a well-managed, effective service” - Ofsted 2019.

“This year we intend to build on this progress. There is more to do to increase the numbers of early help assessments being carried out and to encourage agencies other than children’s social care to take up the role of lead professional. However, the use of these assessments is increasing, in particular by primary schools. This means that children and their families are progressively more likely to receive the early support they need before their needs escalate…..” - Ofsted 2019.

Karen’s story

Ten year old Karen*, who lives in a rural part of Cambridgeshire, faced a range of issues typical in a troubled family – a worsening situation which looked set to escalate into a need for serious and long term support.  Domestic abuse, parental problems with alcohol and mental health, crises with money leading to an eviction order – leading to a negative impact on Karen’s school attendance, and causing anxiety issues for her older brother.

Thanks to a direct referral from our social work ‘step down team’ - a family support worker was assigned to the family; the district council were brought on board to advise on housing, debt and financial issues – a grant was found to help replace items, such as a washing machine and beds; Karen’s older brother was referred for counselling to build social networks, and her dad was given direct support from mental health and NHS alcohol services. Both parents were helped to access parenting support. The support worker even went to court with Karen’s mum to help her obtain an extension to the eviction notice.    

The family’s situation has now improved. Karen’s mum has found full time work, the family are in new rented accommodation in an area they like, Karen regularly attends both school and Brownies, and is hoping to become a Girl Guide.

*Name changed for the purpose of anonymity. 

Action on climate change

Councillors and officers have taken the opportunity presented by recent student action on climate change to engage with young activists to give them information on the actions Cambridgeshire County Council has been taking – while reminding them that their education is important.

During the last major event in March, we invited small groups inside to talk directly to them about the reasons for attending the climate change strike, where they also got the chance to talk to Council Leader Cllr Steve Count.  Students told us they are keen to work more closely with politicians and we are looking at further ways to involve them in a way that doesn’t disrupt their education.

The students told us that they recognise efforts that Cambridgeshire is making but that they are concerned about supporting young people in other countries trying to make a difference

Specific concerns they raised were around plastics pollution, where we updated them on the council’s newly approved a plastics strategy (page 29) and in the technology that will shift us from existing ways of living to new ways e.g. electric cars, clean technology. We are now looking at how we can make further links between local students and Cambridge Cleantech organisations.

A picture of health - Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2019

Health and Wellbeing Boards have a statutory duty to jointly assess the health and wellbeing needs of their local populations and to prepare a joint health and wellbeing strategy to meet these needs.

To assist with this, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Public Health Intelligence Team produce an annual JSNA Core Dataset and the 2019 version has just been published.

Selected key findings are:

  • Overall health outcomes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined are generally good in comparison to national averages, although there is variation across the area. Health outcomes tend to be better than national averages in Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire and worse, or similar, to the national average in Peterborough and Fenland. The picture in Cambridge City is more mixed.
  • Life expectancy at birth is statistically significantly higher than the national average for males and females in Cambridgeshire as a whole, and statistically significantly lower than the national average in Peterborough and in Fenland. Female life expectancy in Cambridge City is similar to that for England and statistically significantly higher for Cambridge males.

  • In terms of demography, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are among the fastest growing areas in the UK. The proportion of older people in the population is also increasing, with associated increases in age-related demand for NHS and social care services.

For more information, please email [email protected]

Cambridgeshire County Council staff shortlisted for recognition

Further recognition has been received for the council and members of its staff recently.

Natalie Taylor, National Citizens Service Programme Coordinator

Katie Ellis, Assistant Engineer, Signals and Systems Team

Jennifer Bartlett, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisor

  • Cambridgeshire County Council has been shortlisted in two categories in the national MJ awards, for Natalie Taylor in the Local Government Rising Star and in the Digital Transformation categories. The winners will be announced on 26 June.
  • Katie Ellis, a Cambridgeshire County Council Assistant Engineer in the Signals and Systems Team, has been nominated for the Top 50 Women in Engineering 2019 award. WE50 is a UK awards event founded by the Women's Engineering Society (WES) in 2016 and linked to the International Women in Engineering Day global celebration on 23 June each year.
  • Jennifer Bartlett, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisor and a member of the Council's Equality and Diversity Network has been nominated within the category 'Positive Role Model - Disability' in the 2019 National Diversity Awards. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral will host this year's award ceremony on 20 September.

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