UNITARY COUNCIL UPDATE
On 19th February OCC launched ‘A Fresh Start for Oxfordshire’, a draft of OCC's intended proposal to central Government on how and why a single unitary authority for Oxfordshire could work. The full proposal can be found online at www.oneoxfordshire.org. There will be meetings with key local stakeholders in the coming weeks and activities will take place across Oxfordshire’s libraries. An online survey will enable OCC to engage with the wider public. The results of these actions will be incorporated into a revised version of the proposal document to be considered at the March 14th meeting of the Cabinet. Following advice from the DCLG at the end of last year, OCC has been reassured that there is nothing preventing the pursuing of reorganisation of local government in parallel to working with the District Councils on a potential devolution deal for the county. OCC is keen to hear from as many councillors, community groups, businesses and residents as possible via the website.
PROPOSALS FOR SPENDING £3.4M OF ADULT SOCIAL CARE TEMPORARY FUNDING
Proposals for how £3.4m of temporary funding can be spent were discussed at Cabinet on 24th January. The money would come from OCC being allowed by Government to set a 5% council tax rise in 2017/18 and 2018/19 – with 3% intended to be spent on adult social care. If the council votes to levy the 5% council tax increase at its budget meeting in February, OCC proposes to spend the adult social care portion of the money investing in capacity building and resilience, to help respond to future demand. The proposals are for the temporary funding to be spent in three key areas over the course of 2017/18 and 2018/19:
1. £1.01million to grow, develop and build resilience in the external care workforce
The social care workforce and, in particular, the home care workforce, is one of the key constraints on the health and social care system in Oxfordshire. Issues with recruiting, retaining, training, and supporting this workforce, combined with the high cost of living mean that the private and voluntary sector face issues in providing adequate numbers of staff. The £1.01m would be used to improve recruitment and retention for existing providers, and the skill base of local care workers. It would increase workforce and capacity, and would benefit individuals funding their own care.
2. £1.485 million to transform delivery
OCC proposes to invest £1.485m in transforming capacity in the public and private sector. This involves optimising the use of available care capacity, improving purchasing and sourcing, and working with people who use services and their carers to make services better. OCC plans to increase staff capacity (social workers, occupational therapists, and care managers) to ensure the right size for home care packages whilst at the same time supporting people to have the maximum levels of independence. It is also proposed to create additional capacity to support assessment and reviews to achieve maximum flow for the whole system. OCC also proposes to invest in improvements to systems to enable it to better to track and monitor the care demands in order to understand and use available capacity. This investment would release additional capacity into the homecare market, increase the availability of homecare, and improve the speed and timeliness of social care assessments.
3. Daytime support (£650,000)
This money would be used to form part of the £975,000 that OCC is proposing to spend supporting Daytime Support Services to transition to the new model of service provision. (Further detail can be found in the next item).
ADDITIONAL £975,000 TO HELP TRANSITION FOR DAYTIME SUPPORT SERVICES
OCC is proposing a new daytime support system that would enable older people and people with disabilities to live independently in their community. Having listened to more than 1,000 responses to a consultation that ran during November and December, the OCC's original proposals have changed to reflect comments made - with £975,000 extra being spent. The proposals continue to include a guaranteed core service for people who require daytime support, alongside financial support to enable community-based services to continue to flourish. People with ‘assessed needs’ who receive help from OCC's adult social services would continue to receive support under a new proposed structure for daytime support in the county. The proposal now includes the additional money to be spent as follows:1. An additional £550,000 in a transition fund for voluntary sector providers who receive grant funding from the council. This is in direct response to providers who responded to the consultation to say more time was needed. 2. An additional £100,000 on fundraising support for the voluntary sector. 3. Replacing current annual funding for 47 community-based daytime support services with grant pots totalling £350,000 a year.
RESPONSE TO CCG’S CONSULTATION ABOUT OXFORDSHIRE’S HEALTH SERVICES
The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has now launched the first phase of its consultation on proposed changes to health services in Oxfordshire. OCC is a consultee in the process, and Cabinet is due to make its view known at the cabinet meeting on 21st February. OCC officers are currently examining the detail of the proposals, and Cabinet will consider these alongside the emerging public view. The Cabinet’s view will also be fed into the full debate on the consultation, which the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) is hosting on the 7th March. HOSC is an independent joint committee, which includes representatives from the four District Councils, the City Council and County Council. The issue is also scheduled to be debated at the full Council meeting on the 21st March to ensure that all County Councillors are given the opportunity to voice local concerns.
CARERS SET TO CONTINUE TO RECEIVE PERSONAL BUDGETS
OCC currently provides personal budgets of between £200 and £600 a year to more than 1,800 people who provide care to relatives and others. A consultation was undertaken during 2016 about discontinuing these personal budgets to save the county council £690,000. However, after having listened to consultation responses, a new proposal has been made for annual personal budgets of £300 targeted at those carers with the highest needs. It is estimated that only one-third of those who received a personal budget in 2016/17 would not do so at all in 2017/18. The revised proposals will save OCC £588,000, with £400,000 of this to be directly reinvested in preserving the Dementia Service which supports 120 people in Oxfordshire.
SCIENCE VILLAGE PROPOSAL AT SANDFORD
Magdalen College, Thames Water and Oxford City Council have just published their latest attempt to develop land that local people know as ‘land south of Grenoble Road’. They are calling it “The South Oxford Science Village”. It will include 3,500 homes, expansion to the Science Park, a school, up to 8 sports pitches, and community centre and shops next to the Kassam Stadium and a new roundabout on the A4074. It is clear that there is a strong body of opposition, supported by SODC and OCC.
I have always opposed development on Green Belt land at Grenoble Road, preferring to see large scale development at Culham and Berinsfield. However, both these potential sites are also in the Green Belt which is why SODC are promoting Chalgrove Airfield which is not. There is no doubt that we must build more houses in the county, but deciding which are the most appropriate, sustainable and attractive locations for our residents is a very complex problem.