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Fair deal continues as council budget set for 2019/20

Cllr Steve Count on budget day

Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed a proposal to set a 2019/20 budget on 5 February 2019 which continues to protect and invest in vital services, and puts service transformation and commercialisation before considering service cuts.

Choosing between a range of options to bridge a predicted £13m gap between expected funding and the cost of predicted demand, the council supported an amendment put forward by Council Leader Steve Count which balances the budget and increases funding on both Adults and Children’s Services and Highways over the next five years.

As well as increasing income generating activities, making prudent use of the ‘smoothing fund’ created by the council last year and investing transformation funding, the council took advantage of government freedoms to raise council tax by the full 4.99% allowed.

 “As one of the fastest growing counties in the UK, we face a considerable disadvantage which is not fair and not of our own making - as if we were funded even at the rate of the average county council we would receive an additional £19m each year" said Cllr Count.

 “During the past two years I have been taking every opportunity to raise the outdated and broken funding formula with our MPs and at the highest level of Government and I will continue to do so. So far our lobbying has delivered a total of £24.2m of one-off funding since November 2018, which Government has given us to tide us over. Whilst I am glad that this cash injection indicates they appear to be listening, a more permanent, flexible and predictable fix supplied by a new needs led formula is needed. I welcome Government’s intention to deliver this in the coming financial year and look forward to responding to their proposals which we expect in the spring / summer of 2019.”

Read our press release

Extra support offered for amazing people

A fund set up by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Communities and Partnerships Committee to help amazing people do amazing things for others in their communities will have a further £1m to allocate across the county in the coming year.

Members have agreed to inject a further £1m to the council’s Innovate and Cultivate Fund funding pot that allows innovative ideas to support local communities to get off the ground and grow.

A total of 26 community projects have been awarded Innovate and Cultivate funding since the fund was launched in 2016 for a total of £564,268. A rigorous return on investment assessment of every successful bid estimates that the council can save more than £1,160,000 over time by preventing, reducing and delaying the need for council services in the longer term.

The deadlines for the next round of applications will be Wednesday 1 May 2019.

Organisations and local groups looking for further information can see full details on the Innovate and Cultivate website: https://www.cambscf.org.uk/icf.html

Working through our Brexit plan

While the detail of the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU are still unknown, the Council is seeking to identify the potential impacts on the organisation, staff, and residents. An impact assessment has been created, and we’ve set up a taskforce drawn from all parts of the County Council and Peterborough City Council to develop and monitor actions identified in it.

The taskforce will also be considering how it joins up with other partners in local government across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to use a recently announced government grant to support Brexit actions most effectively.

A webpage linking residents to all the current available information from central government for citizens and businesses has been published, and is being shared widely across the council’s social media platforms and with staff.  EU residents seeking to apply early for settled status can use the computers in any library in Cambridgeshire without charge – as all use of computers to apply on GOV.UK sites has always been free.

Bus services protected, while review continues

Bus services across the county will be discussed at the Economy and Environment Committee meeting on 7 February 2019.

Whilst the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s bus review continues and options are worked on, it will look at how important existing bus services are to be protected.

Although bus service policy and delivery is a Combined Authority function, the authority has asked Cambridgeshire County Council to carry on providing this for one more year while longer term options are considered and discussed.

It is proposed that from April bus services across the county currently supported by the County Council, will continue after Cambridgeshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have agreed funding for the next year.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s bus review went live on 24 January 2019 and more information can be found their website.

Support for budding entrepreneurs

Gillian Beasley (Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council), Julie Deane (CEO of The Cambridge Satchel Company), Liz Jolly (British Library's Chief Librarian) and Cllr Kevin Cuffley (Vice-Chair of the County Council's Communities and Partnership Committee) celebrate the launch of the new Business & IP Centre at Cambridge Central Library on Friday 1 February.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough celebrated the kick-start of a new local service this month, designed to enable people to start, protect and grow their business.

Over the past six months, Cambridgeshire County Council has been putting the building blocks in place for the new Business and IP (Intellectual Property) Centre in Cambridge Central Library following a partial refurbishment of the third floor space. This will be the 11th centre modelled on the British Library’s successful Business and IP Centre, a walk-in service located in the heart of London offering free access to millions of pounds’ worth of business and intellectual property information and events, workshops and one-to-one expertise. Last year, the British Library released new figures revealing that 52 people became entrepreneurs every single day between 2017-18 with the help of the Business and IP Centre and the National Network. Of these, 59% were women and 35% were from a BAME background, compared with 20% and 5% of business owners respectively. An independent report found that nine out of ten companies helped by the London Business and IP Centre succeed past three years, compared with only six out of ten across the UK.

Superfast broadband take-up campaign

Connecting Cambridgeshire has launched a superfast broadband take-up campaign to highlight the availability of superfast (and faster) broadband and remind residents that they need to upgrade to get it – particularly in areas of low take-up.

The superfast broadband rollout has reached over 96% of premises across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which is above the national average. The county has some of the highest take up in the country - close to 60% - which has brought ‘clawback’ funding to reinvest in extending the rollout.

Residents can use the postcode checker on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website to check if superfast broadband is available or planned for their address, and find out how to get faster broadband.

Please email [email protected] if you have any queries or feedback.

Child and Family Centres reach further

Six months on from the changes Cambridgeshire County Council made to its Child and Family Centre services – and more than a third of users responding to a survey said that they had attended a session at an outreach centre

One respondent said: “Some different venues, but same staff who are all great.”

One of the key changes put in place was to run events and activities from a wider range of venues in new locations like sports centres or village halls – taking services closer to communities that need them while enabling the council to reduce the money it spends on property and management.

The survey ran from September to November 2018 to give families the opportunity to feedback on the new service, and to tell the council how the transition period felt. In total 330 people shared their views online or at activity sessions.

9 out of 10 people surveyed said they found the range of events and activities on offer helpful. In addition, 19 people who responded to the survey expressed an interest in volunteering in the network of Child and Family Centres.

Read our press release

#Welovesocialworkers

A new campaign to attract qualified social workers to join the Cambridgeshire County Council team has been launched. It features the faces and voices of existing staff talking about the work they do, and the support that they receive at Cambridgeshire County Council. #Welovesocialworkers was developed using insight from existing social workers about what made their job special, and the specific benefits of living and working in the county. It aims to help Cambridgeshire buck a national trend around social care recruitment.

Team Cambridgeshire invites you to share your Teenage Dreams

The next stage of Cambridgeshire County Council’s campaign to make sure all local children grow up in a local home began last month with an appeal for foster carers for teenagers. It invites well-known local people to share their teenage dreams, as the dream for many teenagers in care is simply to have a settled home.  MPs can help and support this by supporting the campaign online #teamcambridgeshire or specifically by sharing their own aspirations when they were a teenager #TeenageDreamsWeek.

Jeremy Sallis on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire was joined by a local foster carer, care leaver and social worker to talk about fostering with Team Cambridgeshire. Could you help to make a teenager's dream come true? Discussion starts about 15 mins in.

Don’t forget to visit our news pagelike us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the latest announcements.

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