What do council workers administering cuts think of their jobs?

“Nearly 80% of council workers have no confidence in the future of local services because of spending cuts, new research reveals.

The study, carried out by Unison, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, revealed that staff felt councils had been left unable to meet the demands of local communities due to government cuts.

Staff have been left to “pick up the pieces” due to local services “collapsing”, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said, adding that the current situation was “chaos”.

The research, released on Monday, shows that 50% of council workers are thinking of leaving their jobs for less stressful work elsewhere.

The survey of 21,000 local government employees working across all services reveals that 67% said residents do not receive the help and support when they need it and 54% are not confident that vulnerable residents are safe and cared for.

Issues raised by the staff who took part in the survey include stories of families living in mouldy, overcrowded properties, fly-tipping being left for weeks and a rise in rodent populations.

Other concerns raised include vulnerable children, young people and adults not getting the help and support they need. …

Unison’s Prentis said: “This disturbing survey should ring alarm bells in Whitehall and also alert ministers to the crisis happening in councils up and down the country.

“Local authorities have had to cut so many vital services that they have now reached a point where vulnerable children and the elderly struggle to get the help that they need, entire communities are suffering, and the public are being put at risk.”

Unison’s survey shows that 83% of staff felt that reductions in government funding for local authorities in England have had a negative impact on their ability to do the job as well as they can.

A total of 53% of workers believe that their council no longer delivers quality services and 48% said that their employer doesn’t make the right decisions for the public.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds are concerned about the financial situation of their council.

The biggest challenges facing local authorities, according to council workers, was a lack of front line staff, adult social care, safeguarding children and young people, a lack of housing options and road repairs.

Prentis added: “With cuts to road and bridge maintenance, potholes in roads are left unfilled, and bridges are at risk of crumbling. Crematoriums are not maintained, streetlights stay broken, and parks are in disrepair as councils don’t have the equipment or the staff to adequately maintain them.

“There are now over one million people with an unmet need for social care because councils don’t have the resources to support them. Now is the time to reverse these cuts and invest in local government once more or the very fabric of our society will come unstuck.” …


Sums on Knowle relocation not adding up for us, the taxpayers

“Remaining at Knowle with essential and basic repairs undertaken would have cost the council £ 4.5m over 20 years. In contrast moving to the new HQ in Honiton will provide a cash saving of £ 1.4m over the same period. That’s a difference of £5.9m.’

The above quote is lifted from the EDDC web-site.

So even using their figures, it will take 20 years to recover half the cost of the new building. Only after 40 years will we get our money back.

So if we see a Devon unitary authority in the next 40 years we will lose money.

But, of course, it’s much worse, because the EDDC numbers assume that there will be no ‘essential and basic repairs’ to the new building over those 40 years. Impossible, of course.

Even worse, no-one wanted EDDC to remain in the whole of the Knowle building. Those opposed to the move recommended that EDDC retrench to the modern buildings that were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Half the size of the Knowle as it now stands. So, even using EDDC’s figures, half the size would mean half the ‘essential and basic repairs’, so only £2.25 million, and half the ‘cash saving’ of £1.4 million, so a trifling £700,000 over 20 years. Peanuts.

So even using EDDC’s own numbers, the new building cannot produce any savings for 80 years.

Even, even worse, EDDC has borrowed the money to build the new building. The cost of borrowing £11 million, the notional build cost of Blackdown House, is of the order of £400,000 per annum, dwarfing the expected savings.

Even, even, even worse, the costs of the new building do not include the fees charged by various advisers over many years, the cost of the move itself, compensation to staff forced to travel further, new equipment, officer and councillor time, and the cost in terms of disruption. Plus all the costs of disposing of the Knowle.

The true cost of relocation is almost certainly at least £20 million.

Even, even, even, even worse, those EDDC numbers do not take into account the ‘essential and basic’ repairs conducted at their new Exmouth office, which came in at a whopping £1.7 million. Nor the running costs of Exmouth, which will surely be at least £1.4 million over that 20 year period. Almost certainly much more: Exmouth is, of course, an old building from the 1920s, far older than the modern brick buildings at Knowle.

Blackdown House will be a tremendous drain upon the finances of EDDC from the day it opens, and the expected cost savings thereafter will be microscopic compared to the huge borrowing costs.

But the biggest problem of all is that EDDC’s own consultants informed them that the building constructed at a cost of £20 million would only have an open market value on its completion of £3 million. That included the value of the land on which it sits.

So, if Devon goes unitary any time in the next few years, we will have lost £17 million.

The only good news for residents of East Devon is that the whole of Devon will then have to pay the bill and the borrowing costs.

“School In Theresa May’s Constituency Asks Parents To Donate Toilet Paper And Stationery”

“A school in Theresa May’s constituency has asked parents for donations of essential items such as toilet roll, stationery and blue tac.

St Edmund Campion Catholic Primary School in Maidenhead, Berkshire, sent parents an email including a link to an Amazon wish list on Monday detailing items they could buy to help its 420 pupils.

Catherine del Campo, whose 10-year-old daughter attends the school, told HuffPost UK she was “extremely concerned” to receive the email. “I felt that if this is happening to our school it must be happening elsewhere,” she said.

The mum has already donated toilet paper and plasters to the school and says other parents have also been “incredibly supportive”. “I haven’t heard a single parent blaming the school, although I’m aware others have questioned the school’s role in this,” she said.

Ottery Health Matters! Meeting 29 June 2018, afternoon and evening

Ottery St Mary & District Health & Care Forum, in partnership with:
RD&E, Coleridge GP’s, NEWCCG, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council & Ottery St Mary Town Council

Ottery Health Matters!

Health and Wellbeing Community Information Event

Date: Friday 29th June 2018

Time: Two drop-in sessions
2pm – 5pm
6pm – 8pm

Venue: The Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery St Mary, EX11 1HD.

Come along to this informal drop-in event to find out about the care and support available in Ottery and the surrounding areas. It will be a great opportunity to talk to health and care experts plus volunteers about the local services and activities to help people live well.

We need to hear from you about what’s important to you, what you think the challenges and priorities are to improve health and care for people in our community now and in the future.

Refreshments will be provided. Transport to and from may also be available. For any queries or feedback please contact:

Elli Pang via e-mail: ellipang@btinternet.com or Tel: 01404 812268 or Leigh Edwards via e-mail: leighp3@sourcemode.com or Tel: 01404 814889

“Pensioner households paying out nearly £9bn in income tax per year”

“Households with one or more people who are past state pension age are paying out nearly £9bn in income tax a year, analysis has found.

Of the 8.7m so called pensioner households in the UK, 1.4m of them contain a worker generating taxable income.

The research by pension and investment provider Aegon found that the number of people still working past state pension age had increased from 12 per cent in 1997/98 to 17 per cent today.

A growth in people working past pension age was accompanied by a rise in average earnings, as pensioner couples saw their weekly wages after inflation increase 30 per cent from £410 to £534 today.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon said:

“Gone are the days when reaching state pension age meant a total end to work. Many people are choosing to keep working and earning, perhaps by cutting back gradually on the amount of work they do, even once they’ve started taking their pension.

These people are contributing significant amounts to the nation’s finances through the tax they generate while also helping the broader economy through their work.”

Cameron also said that despite the current climate being favourable for pensioners, with many living on decent incomes, this “golden era for pensioners” could not last forever.

“Both final salary pensions and inflation busting increases to the state pension are unlikely to continue indefinitely so it’s important that society is changing with more people able to choose to work past traditional retirement ages,” he added.”


Adult social care on its last wobbly, fragile knees

“Social care services for vulnerable adults are on the verge of collapse in some areas of England, despite the provision of extra government funding, senior council officials have warned.

The fragile state of many council social care budgets – coupled with growing demand for services, increasing NHS pressure, and spiralling staff costs – is highlighted in research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services(Adass).

It says councils “cannot go on” without a sustainable long-term funding strategy to underpin social care and warns that continuing cuts to budgets risk leaving thousands of people who need care being left without services.

“The overall picture is of a sector struggling to meet need and maintain quality in the context of rising costs, increasingly complex care needs, a fragile provider market and pressures from an NHS which itself is in critical need of more funding,” the annual “state of the nation” survey says.

It reveals English councils plan to push through social care cuts of £700m in 2018-19, equivalent to nearly 5% of the total £14.5bn budget. Since 2010, social care spending in England has shrunk by £7bn.

A government green paper on adult social care funding is expected in the next few weeks, and while councils are hopeful this could put budgets on a firmer footing over time, they warn that extra funding is needed to shore up services in the short term.

“Social care is essentially about making sure we not only look after people with profound and increasingly complex needs, but also help many transform their lives. Sadly, however, this budget survey reveals, once again this essential care and support is just not being given the resources it needs,” said the president of Adass, Glen Garrod.

He added: “We cannot go on like this. How we help people live the life they want, how we care and support people in our families and communities, and how we ensure carers get the support they need is at stake – it’s time for us to deliver the secure future that so very many people in need of social care urgently need.”

A government spokesperson said: “We know the social care system is under pressure — that’s why we’ve provided an extra £9.4bn over three years. We will shortly set out our plans to reform the system, which will include the workforce and a sustainable funding model supported by a diverse, vibrant and stable market.”

The Adass survey says the social care market is “increasingly fragile and failing” in some parts of the country, with almost a third of councils reporting that residential and nursing home care providers have closed down or handed back contracts.

Although councils are spending an increasing proportion of their total budget on adult social care – almost 38p in every pound in 2018-19, compared with 34p in 2010 – social care directors admit they will have to continue to reduce the number of people in receipt of care packages.

The survey reveals councils are increasingly reliant on so-called “self help” or “asset-based” approaches to care – in effect using networks of family and neighbourhood groups to provide volunteer support for some social care recipients.

Half of local authorities overspent on adult social care budgets in 2017-18, the survey finds, with half of these drawing on council reserves to meet the overspend.

The National Audit Office has warned that about 10% of councils will exhaust reserves in three years at current rates of deployment, putting them at risk of insolvency.

Ministers acknowledged the financial crisis facing council adult social care services last year, when they provided £2.6 billion, enabling councils to raise extra social care funds locally through a council tax precept.

Adass says this injection of cash helped stave off financial collapse in some council areas. But it warns that the additional funding has “temporarily relieved, rather than resolved” the long-term funding needs of the sector and there is a danger council services could collapse before any new arrangements are in place.

Although councils have a legal duty to ensure there is a functioning care market in their area, nearly four in five say they are concerned that they are unable to guarantee this because of the fragility of many care firm balance sheets and rising care staff wage bills.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, the chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “Councils and providers are doing all they can to help ensure older and disabled people receive high quality care, but unless immediate action is taken to tackle increasingly overstretched council budgets, the adult social care tipping point, which we have long warned about, will be breached and councils risk not being able to fulfil their statutory duty under the Care Act.”

Richard Murray, the director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: “This latest evidence, from every council in England, lays bare once again the need for, as the prime minister put it herself, a proper plan to pay for and provide social care.

“Older and disabled people and their families and carers continue to be let down by a system that is on its knees.”


“Retail space returned to landlords in high street crisis, Colliers International reveals”

Owl says: would Tesco be calling for a “level playing field” between high street and online shopping if they had not just closed Tesco Direct – their online retailer!

“Retail space equivalent to about 180 football pitches has been handed back to landlords this year, in a stark sign of the challenges facing the high street.

A day after House of Fraser announced that it would be closing more than half of its stores, an analysis by Colliers International shows that 11.6 million sq ft of retail has been “lost” to administrations, company voluntary arrangements and planned store closures this year.

The property consultancy said that this included the two million sq ft of retail space that Marks & Spencer planned to offload by closing 100 stores.

Fears are growing for the future of high streets as more retailers struggle and try to close stores through CVAs — the contentious insolvency process that allows retailers to shut shops and cut rents at landlords’ expense. New Look, Carpetright and Mothercare are among those that have entered into CVAs this year and House of Fraser’s proposed CVA has infuriated many in the property industry. The British Property Federation, which lobbies for landlords, has called for an urgent inquiry into the practice.

However, retailers say that they are facing a toxic mix of high rents, rising wages and costs and a structural shift in the industry as more people shop online. Yesterday, Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, told the BBC that the burden of business rates, which hits retailers with large store estates hard, was to blame for many of the present woes.

He said that Tesco paid more than £700 million a year in business rates and that “you need a level playing field . . . between an online digital world and a traditional retail store base model”.

Dan Simms, co-head of retail agency at Colliers, said that the retail space at risk of closure this year was already more than the 10.7 million sq ft handed back in 2016, the year BHS collapsed.

“What we are seeing now are a lot more retailers closing stores,” he said. “It is much more broadly based so it feels like things are markedly worse.”

Analysis by Harper Dennis Hobbs shows that about 25 million sq ft of retail space was lost between 2008 and 2010 …”