“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”


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].”


Effect of Sustainability and Transformation plans on rural communities – East Devon Tories miss the boat then moan about it!

Motion at today’s EDDC full council meeting.

Recall that EDDC council leader voted AGAINST submitting the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s plan to the Secretary of State for Health at the meeting of Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee AGAINST the wishes of his own district council.

Now, that same district council, whose Tory members absolved him of blame for this act are making a TOKEN fuss about its consequences!

“Motion – The effects on Rural Communities of the Sustainability Transformation Partnership (STP) actions in East Devon

“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”.

Proposer Councillor Mike Allen Seconded by Councillor Ian Hall
Supported by:
Councillor Dean Barrow; Councillor Stuart Hughes; Councillor Brian Bailey; Councillor Mark Williamson; Councillor Mike Howe; Councillor Iain Chubb; Councillor Simon Grundy’; Councillor Graham Godbeer; Councillor Tom Wright; Councillor Jenny Brown”


EDA Councillor Shaw: “Pursuit of elusive ‘devolution’ deal is leading to a new layer of bureaucracy: an unelected, one-party ‘Heart of the South West’ combined authority”

This week’s DCC Cabinet meeting approved a Conservative proposal to set up a formal Joint Committee with Somerset (report at item 7 of the agenda). Objections were raised to aspects of the proposal by the leaders of the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups, and I spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Group (which comprises the three Independents and one Green councillor). You can watch the debate, and read my speech below:

“I think we know what is going with devolution. We have a government which is ripping the heart out of local government spending, pushing services to the border of viability; this is causing enormous difficulties for this council but also driving down local incomes and so weakening our regional economy. But at the same time it is holding out the carrot of giving us limited extra powers and returning a modest bit of the lost funding, if we jump through its ‘devolution’ hoops. The government barely seems to know what it’s doing over ‘devolution’ and the hoops keep changing, but we still have to guess what they are and do our best to jump.

And so we end up with the papers in front of us today. We are asked to endorse a ‘vision’ of higher productivity and economic growth and create an extra layer of bureaucracy to support it. The problem is that the vision bears little relation to reality. The ambition is to double the regional economy in 18 years, i.e. to increase its size by 100% – this requires a compound growth rate of 3.94%. In the real world, the actual growth rate in the SW over the last 18 years has been 30% and the annual rate 1.47%. Nationally, the UK economy has never grown by more than 3% p.a. in any of the last 18 years, and is currently veering downwards below 1.5%.

So we are asked to believe that we can increase local productivity growth from below the national average to well above it, and thereby buck not only regional but also national growth trends. How are we going to that? By waving the wand of the Hinkley nuclear white elephant and hoping that it somehow spreads some stardust over Devon? I can tell you that so far the LEP has produced almost nothing which offers help to the economy in the rural, small-town, coastal Devon which most of us represent.

Let’s take a reality check – if I come to the budget meeting and tell you, ‘the economy will grow by 4%, business rate receipts will shoot up, so spend, spend, spend’, you are going to look on me as a madman, and rightly so. So why should Devon County Council buy this phoney prospectus? And why should we embark on radical constitutional change to support it?

I know this is only a proposal for a Joint Committee, with limited financial implications. But it is clearly presented as enabling us to ‘move relatively quickly to establish a Combined Authority’ if that is deemed necessary. We already have 3 tiers of local government. This is the beginning of creating a fourth tier, without a mandate, without elections, and without balanced political representation.

95% of the people of Devon don’t even know they’re living in something called the ‘Heart of the South West’. It says everything about the lack of democracy in this so-called devolution that we are using this PR-speak rather than the county names which people understand. I know the Government prefers cross-boundary devolution projects, but Cornwall got a stand-alone deal, and we are much bigger in both population and area.

Apart from Hinkley there is no strong reason for us to tie ourselves to Somerset rather than Cornwall or Dorset. Our local government is being distorted to support an anachronistic nuclear project – for the benefit of companies owned by the French and Chinese states – instead of developing renewable energy for which we have a good basis in the SW.

I have this Cabinet down as a group of a level-headed people. But here we have fantasy economics, making claims which are about as credible as the figures on Boris’s battlebus, and constitutional change which means that Devon people and their councillors are asked to start handing over democratic control to a one-party quango in conjunction with unelected business people.

Since the Government is always changing its mind about devolution, there is no reason why we shouldn’t change our minds too. I ask you to

go back to the Government with a realistic agenda for Devon, that addresses the needs of all areas of the county and all sectors of our economy and society
back off from this unnecessary proposal for a joint committee.

Pursuit of elusive ‘devolution’ deal is leading to a new layer of bureaucracy: an unelected, one-party ‘Heart of the South West’ combined authority

What do you have to do to get sacked if you are a Tory these days?

“As a prime minister drained of authority struggles to hold her party together, ambitious ministers feel increasingly able to cock a snook with impunity.

This week’s rows over Boris Johnson’s dangerous handling of a disagreement with Iran, and Priti Patel’s freelance policymaking in the Middle East may seem a coincidence.

But the conduct of the foreign secretary is bound together with that of the international development secretary.

Both Mr Johnson and Ms Patel are able to play fast and loose because normal collective cabinet disciplines no longer apply. The prime minister is afraid to reprimand or sack. In this government it is everyone for themselves. …”

and yet there are people who will continue to vote for them.

It says as much about their voters as it does about their Ministers and MPs.

And so many of their voters in East Devon – where we had our own mini-scandal when Diviani voted against his own district councillors at county council over closure of community hospitals.

Did Tory district councillors sack him? No, they rallied round him and agreed to keep him not just as a councillor but as their Leader.

Such is political life today. Thank you Tory voters – for worse than nothing.

“How a city is tackling poverty by giving a voice to its poorest citizens”

Can’t see this catching on in East Devon, more’s the pity!

“It’s time to change politics,” says the Mayor of Salford, at a packed meeting of the Truth ­Poverty Commission in his home city. “Either politics is done to us, or we shape it.”

Since being elected a year ago, Mayor Paul Dennett has been radically reshaping the way things are done in Salford.

Last month he gave care workers a 10.7% pay rise. His town hall has given the go-ahead for seven new library sites at a time when many councils are closing them.

As other parts of the UK face ­maternity unit closures, the council has stepped in to ‘Keep Babies Born in Salford’ by opening a new midwife-led unit where 300 babies may now be delivered each year.

Salford has also invested £2million into a development company – in order to kickstart building of social housing that won’t fall under the government’s new Right To Buy policy. The company is called Derive – named after a joke involving ­revolutionary Italian situationists.

All of which looks like a blueprint for a Labour government, or what unashamedly interventionist Dennett calls “sensible socialism”.

The 36-year-old mayor is passionate about using his £200million budget to end poverty , partly because he has never forgotten what it feels like to come up the hard way, through a childhood he describes as at times “horrific” and something “I wouldn’t wish on anyone”.

Scarred by domestic abuse and his younger brother’s fight against leukaemia, he failed his GCSEs and A-levels and by 18 was working in a “sweat shop” call centre.

“I had an interesting journey,” he says wryly, at his offices in Swinton. “I grew up in a family where there was traumatic violence and abuse. My dad became an alcoholic and I struggled at school in my early teens.”

A power station fitter by trade, Paul’s dad went on to manage The Engine pub in Liverpool’s Prescot area, where his alcoholism began. Paul’s mum, a cleaner, ran the pub as her marriage disintegrated.

Later in life, Paul won a place to study International Business at the University of Ulster, where he achieved a first-class honours degree. He went on to Manchester ­Business school before doing a PhD at Manchester Met, working as a civil servant and then for a utilities company.

Now living in Salford – where he became a tenants’ leader and then a local councillor – as council leader he sees the Truth Poverty Commission as part of a new way of doing politics, with people’s consent.

Based on a model that has been used in Glasgow and Leeds, the Commissioners include people with experience of poverty.

“Consultation usually means organisations telling you about their plans,” says community worker Jayne Gosnall, 54, who is recovering from alcohol addiction. “This is about really listening to people with experience.”

The Commission is independent but supported by Salford City Council, the Mayor and the Bishop of Salford, and facilitated by Church Action on Poverty and Community Pride. It has led to the council bringing in a raft of measures that will transform lives – from waiving birth certificate fees for homeless people to changing the way the council chases debt.

Debbie Brown, transformation director at Salford City Council, says: “We come into these meetings and we hug each other – that’s not what normally happens in council meetings,” she says. “But the other thing that stopped me in my tracks was the City Council being identified as a cause of poverty.

“We heard stories about what it was like for people hiding from council tax collection agents, people being afraid, and that’s not a city I recognise.

“We’re changing a lot already. We’re going back to the personal, identifying people who are struggling to pay and looking again at what we can do.

“We won’t be using bailiffs for those in receipt of council tax reduction and young care leavers are exempt.”

Laura Kendall, 33, a mum of two and a youth worker, suffered undiagnosed mental health problems as a teenager and was placed in care.

“Sharing my story for this project was difficult but very powerful for me,” she says. “I want people to know their voices will be heard, that a child growing up in the care system can have a better chance.

“I’d spent my whole life trying to get people to listen to me and got used to being rejected. This area has been written off so many times but it’s full of people with something to add.”

Salford’s mayor is determined to listen. “This is about working-class communities coming together and a spirit of solidarity,” Dennett says. “It’s the spirit of Salford in action.”


The Nolan Principles of Public Life – a travesty

If Westminster staff need protection from MPs then we are obviously electing the wrong people. Yet, unless they resign – which they rarely do – we cannot get rid of them. In local government we can’t get rid of a councillor even if he deliberately votes against his own party’s wishes (and when members of his own party then protect him after he has done so).

It is even more unlikely that any Conservative MPs will be made to resign – even if they admit to calling an employee “sugar tits” (no asterisks for Owl on this one) and ordering her to make his sex shop purchases – both of which an MP has allegedly admitted to doing – because of their precarious grasp on power. Power which is held only because of a £1 billion bribe to a so-called Christian-values-based party the DUP – with its strong links to the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

There must be a way of local voters being able to deselect an MP (or a councillor) when he or she is shown to be totally unfit for office, surely? Even a prison sentence doesn’t stop someone being a councillor – it has to be for more than a year!

“There is a requirement to inform the House, if Members are arrested on
criminal charges, of the cause for which they are detained from their
service in Parliament. The House is also informed when a Member has been
committed to prison for a criminal offence. In such circumstances, the
Speaker would normally make an oral statement or lay a copy of the
letter on the Table. The Representation of the People Act 1981
disqualifies from membership of the House any serving Member detained
for any offence in the UK or the Republic of Ireland for more than a
year or detained indefinitely, and their seat becomes vacant.

The House of Commons Library has compiled a list of MPs imprisoned since
1979 …”


We obviously cannot rely on the Nolan Principles for Public Life to protect us at any level of government – local, regional or national.


Is a new, powerful supra-regional authority being created without public consultation?

Owl says: yes!

On 1 January 2018, a new “Joint Committee” will come into being.

It is charged with delivery of a “productivity strategy” for the whole Devon and Somerset area.

For its (sinister?) aims and objectives, see section 1.3 here:


Truly, we live in disturbing times as NONE of this has had ANY public consultation, yet, at EDDC, it will be decided on the nod at its Cabinet meeting on 1 November 2017:

Some really worrying points:

In Section 2.2 it says that the joint committee can at any time extend its powers as it sees fit.

Section 9.2 says a simple majority of votes will decide actions [the membership will be overwhelmingly Tory]

Section 12.0 Chief Executives and Monitoring Officers will be able to add items to the agenda.


The new “joint authority” authority consists of:


Dartmoor National Park Authority
Devon County Council
East Devon District Council
Exeter City Council
Exmoor National Park Authority
Mendip District Council
Mid Devon District Council
North Devon Council
Plymouth City Council
Sedgemoor District Council
Somerset County Council
South Hams District Council
South Somerset Council
Torbay Council
Taunton Deane Borough Council
Teignbridge District Council
Torridge District Council
West Devon Borough Council
West Somerset Council


Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
NHS South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group
NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group