“Social care postcode gap widens for older people”: EDDC tries to claw back its mistakes too late

Last week, desperate Tories put a much-too-little! much-too-late motion to East Devon District Council:

“To ask the Leader of East Devon District Council to request Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Parliamentary Health Select Committee, to investigate the effects on Rural Communities of the STP actions and to test if Rural Proofing Policies have been correctly applied to these decisions in order to protect these communities”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/12/13/effect-of-sustainability-and-transformation-plans-on-rural-communities-east-devon-tories-miss-the-boat-then-moan-about-it/

As Owl noted at the time, this is somewhat rich, as their Leader, Paul Diviani, voted at Devon County Council AGAINST sending the document to the Secretary of State for Health (where this could have been highlighted in the covering submission) against the instructions of his EDDC Tory Councillors and never having consulted other Devon Tory councils he was supposed to represent. He was ably assisted in this by former EDDC Chairman Sarah Randall Johnson, who as Chair of the DCC committee, railroaded their choice of action by effectively silencing any opposition (EDW passim)

This led to the accelerated closure of community beds in Honiton and Seaton, following on from earlier closures in Axminster and Ottery St Mary.

A subsequent vote of “No Confidence” in Diviani at EDDC (brought by non-Tory councillors) was defeated by the very Tory councillors he had defied!

Now we read that “Social care postcode gap widens for older people” and that social care is breaking down in deprived areas – many of which are inevitably rural.

… The knock-on effects for the NHS see elderly patients end up in hospital unnecessarily after accidents at home, while they cannot be discharged unless they have adequate community care in place. Among men, 30% in the poorest third of households needed help with an activity of daily living (ADL), compared with 14% in the highest income group. Among women, the need for such help was 30% among the poorest third and 20% in the highest third.

There is a growing army of unpaid helpers, such as family and friends, propping up the system. Around two-thirds of adults aged 65 and over, who had received help for daily activities in the past month, had only received this from unpaid helpers, the figures revealed.

Spending on adult social care by local authorities fell from £18.4bn in 2009-10 to just under £17bn in 2015-16, according to the respected King’s Fund. It represents a real-terms cut of 8%. It estimates there will be an estimated social care funding gap of £2.1bn by 2019-20.

While an extra £2bn was provided for social care over two years, a huge gap remains after the latest budget failed to address the issue. Theresa May was forced to abandon plans to ask the elderly to help pay for social care through the value of their homes, after it was blamed for contributing to her disastrous election result. The government has promised to bring forward some new proposals by the summer, but many Tory MPs and Conservative-run councils are desperate for faster action.

Ministers have dropped plans to put a cap on care costs by 2020 – a measure proposed by Sir Andrew Dilnot’s review of social care and backed by David Cameron when he was prime minister.

Izzi Seccombe, the Tory chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “Social care need is greater in more deprived areas and this, in turn, places those councils under significant financial pressures. Allowing councils to increase council tax to pay for social care, while helpful in some areas, is of limited use in poorer areas because their weaker tax base means they are less able to raise funds.

“In more deprived areas there is also likely to be a higher number of people who rely on councils to pay for their care. This, in turn, puts even more pressure on the local authority.

“If we are to bridge the inequality gap in social care, we need long-term sustainable funding for the sector. It was hugely disappointing that the chancellor found money for the NHS but nothing for adult social care in the autumn budget. We estimate adult social care faces an annual funding gap of £2.3bn by 2020.”

Simon Bottery, from the King’s Fund, said: “We know that need will be higher in the most deprived areas – people get ill earlier and have higher levels of disability, and carry that through into social care need.

“We also know that the councils that have the greater need to spend are, on average, raising less money through the precept [earmarked for funding social care].”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/16/social-care-for-elderly-postcode-gap-grows

Buckfastleigh dissolves its planning committee – as district and county councils take no notice of its recommendations

Most districts are more likely to take the views of their local Tory association and/or Freemasons Lodges and/or developers than any of its town councils! Well done Buckfastleigh for recognising and admitting this.

“Town Council Dissolve Planning Committee

Yesterday (Wed 13th Dec 2017), at the Buckfastleigh Full Town Council meeting, The Council decided to dissolve it’s Planning Committee.

The Planning, Environment & Transport Committee, which evolved from the Planning Committee that was in place until 2015, has up till now examined and responded on every local planning application made to the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), Teignbridge District Council (TDC) or Devon County Council (DCC).

At the meeting we observed that as a Town Council we have in fact had no powers in terms of planning since 1974, when TDC took over most of the powers of the then Buckfastleigh Urban District Council, but that many local people still felt that we had some control over planning decisions. This has led to both misplaced hope that bringing a case to the Planning Committee will make a difference to their case and consequent blame when planning decisions go ahead regardless of their concerns.

It has been made quite clear in recent years that the carefully considered and well-informed responses to planning applications to DNPA, TDC and DCC have been ignored by their planning authorities in reaching decisions. In fact the Town Council has recently a formal complaint with DCC about it’s inability to enforce planning legislation and it’s misconduct in issuing planning notices in the case of Whitecleave Quarry.

Since the start of this council in May 2015, none of the responses submitted by the council in response to any major planning proposal in the parish has had an appreciable effect on the outcome. This includes the Town Council’s responses to the DNPA for piecemeal development of the Devonia site at the heart of the town which has now twice been given permission to demolish and build afresh. This despite the Buckfastleigh Neighbourhood Plan, initiated by the Town Council, which, after prolonged and detailed consultation with local residents, has recommended developing a Masterplan for the site which takes into account flood mitigation and coherent future mixed-use and also after assurances that DNPA would work ‘closely’ with us in future and that ‘mistakes’ had been made in the past.

We are quite sure too that our carefully expressed concerns about the upcoming plans for 80 plus new homes at Barn Park and Holne Rd (despite proven lack of local housing need), resulting in increased traffic/parking issues, flood risk and pressure on local amenities, will also be ignored by the DNP, who, in line with the the other authorities, seem always by default to find in favour of commercial developers whilst disregarding the needs of local residents.

We feel that by maintaining a ‘Planning’ committee, which is clearly impotent, we are misleading the public and misdirecting any concerns they have. We believe it would likely have more impact if all the individual councillors and members of the public made their own representations to planning authorities (although evidence is limited that this has any effect either!) and we don’t want to be duped into inadvertently acting as fodder for those authorities going through the motions of carrying out statutory consultative procedures, unless our opinion is actually given some weight.

We will continue to flag up any planning proposals that are likely to have a significant impact on the parish and fight for the interests of our constituents, but we will no longer formally meet as a planning committee to formulate our responses – these will come from full council. The current Planning, Environment & Transport committee will be dissolved and it’s members will meet to discuss any future remit.

Buckfastleigh Town Council”

Local Enterprise Partnerships: The buck should stop at Devon and Somerset County councils

As it stands, those councils could not even veto or scrutinise a 26% salary increase which went through on the nod by the LEP this year! So, don’t hold your breath (especially as many councillors have close affinities with many other LEP board members).

Be thankful for small mercies that the scrutiny is at county level where there is a better representation of parties. Though, of course, the scrutiny can only be as good and as fair as its chairman, as we have found to our cost with DCC Health Scrutiny Committee!

“In light of our concerns regarding public oversight of LEPs, we call on the Government to make clear how these organisations are to have democratic, and publicly visible, oversight.

We recommend that upper tier councils, and combined authorities where appropriate, should be able to monitor the performance and effectiveness of LEPs through their scrutiny committees. In line with other public bodies, scrutiny committees should be able to require LEPs to provide information and attend committee meetings as required.”

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/369/369.pdf

Devon/Somerset devolution: DCC Tories and Labour votes Yes on deal that scrutiny committee savaged

From the blog of EDA Councillor Martin Shaw:

“Most Labour members joined the Conservative majority on Thursday in voting down my amendment for the County Council to revisit its controversial ‘devolution’ proposals to join Devon with Somerset in the so-called Heart of the South West, first in a formal Joint Committee and then (envisaged but not proposed at this stage) in a Combined Authority. I argued that the proposals for an extra layer of bureaucracy have no democratic consent – they were not even in the Conservatives’ Devon manifesto last May.

I argued that we were being asked to support ‘a regional economic strategy that doesn’t add up to a government which doesn’t know what it’s doing about devolution, and for this we’re prepared to enter a half-baked new constitutional arrangement which will probably have to be scrapped as soon as a more rational government devolution policy is devised.’

Six of Labour’s Exeter members followed the line of Exeter City Council which is joining the Tory-run County and district councils in supporting the current devolution proposals (one abstained). They believe that Exeter’s economy will gain from the (currently unknown) amount of money the devolution bid will gain from government (which of course will be giving back a small proportion of the money it is currently taking from services). I argued that the plan does not have a viable economic strategy behind it, and that rural, coastal and small-town Devon stands to gain virtually nothing from it.

Liberal Democrat and Green councillors joined Independents in voting for my amendment. The webcast will be available here:

https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/305858”

Labour joins Tories at Devon County Council to support joint ‘devolution’ with Somerset, against Independent, Lib Dem and Green opposition

DCC Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee savages HOTSW Growth Strategy

NOW THAT’S HOW YOU DO SCRUTINY!
(Thanks to Independent East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw for bringing to the committee 10 of the 11 points and Budleigh resident David Daniel for his succinct 3 minute take-down of the original document)
at:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/11/30/watch-eda-councillor-shaw-and-budleigh-resident-david-daniel-make-most-sense-on-lep-strategy/

Heart of the South West Joint Committee and Draft Productivity Strategy (Cabinet Minute 77/8 November 2017)

Minute 31:

“The Committee received the Joint Report of the Head of Economy, Enterprise and Skills and the Head of Organisational Development (EES/17/5) providing information on the Heart of the South West Joint Committee and the draft Productivity Strategy, which was currently being consulted on and which highlighted a number of challenges facing the Heart of the South West area.

The consultation period had been extended to 14 December 2017 and an Action Plan would be shared with the Committee at a future meeting.

RESOLVED that

the Committee note the work to develop a Joint Committee and that, to enable a bid for devolved powers and funds to be successful, revisions were suggested to be made to the Heart of the South West Productivity Strategy, taking the following comments into account, namely:-

(a) the ambition to double the size of the economy in 18 years, involving an annual growth rate of 3.94%, was unrealistic given that the regional annual rate over the last 18 years had been 1.5% and the national growth rate, which had not exceeded 3% in a single year during that period, was now forecast to average less than 1.5% per annum in the next five years;

(b) the early ambitious aim of moving from less than average to above average productivity was not credible since the Strategy lacked the wide range of specific proposals needed to raise productivity across the board and contained little detail on how gaps in higher skills level would be filled;

(c) the Strategy did not adequately address the obstacles to higher than average productivity in sectors with endemic low pay and casual working, like social care and hospitality, which were disproportionately represented in the local economy, by our older than average population, and by under-employment;

(d) the Strategy said little about rural Devon and needed to include the key recommendations of the South West Rural Productivity Commission;

(e) the Strategy did not emphasise sufficiently the shortfall in broadband provision and the radical investment needed if Devon were not to fall further behind other regions;

(f) the Strategy did not provide details of the opportunities of Brexit, which it mentioned, nor did it take account of risks such as a decline in investment due to uncertainty, issues for firms exporting to Europe if the UK was not part of a customs union, and threats to the knowledge element of our economy due to universities losing EU staff and research opportunities;

(g) the Strategy needed to show how Devon would respond to automation and Artificial Intelligence;

(h) the Strategy needed to indicate clear performance indicators through which success could be measured;

(i) the Strategy needed to align more explicitly with the Government’s new Industrial Strategy and ‘Sector deals’ which may provide funding;

(j) the Strategy needed to explain what kind of devolution would help meet aspirations and articulate clear, realistic selling points and questions of Government; and

(k) the Strategy needed to include proposals to bring forward all forms of transport, including rail, which improved accessibility to the Peninsular.”

http://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/g2578/Printed%20minutes%2028th-Nov-2017%2014.15%20Corporate%20Infrastructure%20and%20Regulatory%20Services%20Scrutiny%20Comm.pdf?T=1

Watch EDA councillor Shaw and Budleigh resident David Daniel make most sense on LEP “strategy”

Jump to 2 hours into the meeting to see these two local people talk total sense to a bunch of mostly Tory councillors most of whom seem to understand beggar-all about why they are there!

Mr Daniel – a former government strategic analyst is at around 15 minutes into the meeting and speaks persuasively about why the Heart of the South West LEP strategy is totally unachievable. Independent East Devon Alliance DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (whose forensic report was totally accepted with one additional point added) is at around 2 hours into the meeting speaking on why the report before the councillors is style over substance and dangerous to go along with in its current form.

In Owl’s opinion, they run rings around the rest of the committee!

Although one councillor did make a point (Owl is paraphrasing here!} that this is an 18 year “strategy” and could well be redundant in a few years – when some other crazy idea might replace it!

https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/303464

DCC Health Scrutiny Committee – not fit for purpose

The DCC Health Scrutiny Committee lurches from poor practice to bad practice to utter chaos under the continued Chairmanship of Sarah Randall-Johnson

Can you imagine saying you will vote against questioning NHS Property Services about their intentions on the future of community hospitals which they now own “because they might not come”! And Randall-Johnson saying she is “not aware of any threat to any community hospital!!!

[CCGs have been offered match funding from the government for any properties sold in their areas]
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/naylor-plan-outline-sell-nhs-10544577
http://www.property.nhs.uk/asset-management/

Claire Wright’s Blog:

NHS Property Services will be invited to attend the next Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee in January.

But my simple request prompted a debate lasting over half an hour, at Tuesday’s meeting (21 November).

The lengthy and baffling discussion gave a poor impression of the committee in my view, with some Conservative councillors claiming confusion and dismissing the proposal several times as “premature.”

It all started off with a presentation to the committee by Independent councillor, Martin Shaw, under the final work plan agenda item.

Cllr Shaw rightly pointed out how many people were concerned about the potential loss of the hospital buildings, that they had put their own money into them and still there was no clarity over their future, yet NEW Devon CCG were (or at least would very soon be) paying large sums of money in rent each year when previously they owned the buildings outright.

NHS Property Services, a private company wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health, set up under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, acquired the ownership of 12 community hospitals in Eastern Devon at the beginning of this year.

Given that the NEW Devon CCG is one of three most financially challenged health trusts in the country and must make huge cuts to try and stem a deficit of over £400m by 2020, people’s concerns about the future of the hospitals are very valid.

Following my proposal to invite NHS Property Services to the January meeting, chair, Sara Randall Johnson said there was a full agenda for the next meeting so it may not be possible to include it. She said that she was not aware that there was a threat to any community hospital.

Liberal Democrat, Brian Greenslade said NHS PS had been invited previously but questions had been remained unanswered and so should be invited again.

Conservative, Phil Twiss, who represents Honiton which has lost its own hospital beds, claimed in a number of long statements that it was “premature” to invite the company because the future of the buildings had not yet been decided.

He later added that they wouldn’t come anyway.

I replied that waiting until the March meeting was far too long and could mean that decisions were already made. Surely we need to talk to NHS PS and the CCG before their decisions?

I attempted to explain again why it was important we invited the company to the January meeting.

But apparently confusion reigned.

Conservative members became very fixated with the legacy issue, even though I had made it clear that it was about questioning NHS PS and the CCG about their plans on the future of community hospitals and the legacy issue was only part of that.

Chair, Sara Randall Johnson, suggested holding a meeting first to agree some questions to ask NHS PS. I have not seen this approach in my four and a half years as a member of the committee.

I had to make my proposal numerous times, while one or two persistent Conservative members continued to challenge it.

There was an amendment by Liberal Democrat, Nick Way, who wanted a spotlight review into the issue as well.

Phil Twiss then changed his tack and claimed there was no point in asking the company to attend as they wouldn’t come. He was in favour of a spotlight review instead (spotlight reviews are held in private).

But when the vote finally was taken, it was on the spotlight review amendment and not my original proposal to invite NHS PS to the next meeting …

I tried to intervene. Fortunately, the officers corrected matters… and then the majority of the committee voted in favour of my proposal. Finally.

My proposal couldn’t have been more straightforward or uncomplicated. It was entirely within the committee’s remit.

It was also within a couple of hours of hearing the county solicitor’s presentation about how scrutiny should do its job properly. Or be culpable. See this blogpost here – http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/devon_county_council_solicitor_tells_health_scrutiny_committee_you_have_a_v

Here’s the webcast. It is the final item on the agenda – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/302658

Pic: Me exasperated!”

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/nhs_property_services_will_be_invited_to_next_devon_county_council_health_s