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Hertfordshire County Council

Every year we ask you, as a resident of Hertfordshire, to give your views on how we should be spending our budget and what our priorities should be over the coming year.


The survey will run until 9 December 2018.


Your feedback is important as it tells us how we can continue to provide the right services for the right people, and to ensure we are focusing on the most important things that matter to you.

If you live in Hertfordshire, these decisions affect you so please have your say. All feedback collected from the survey will be used to inform our decision-making process for the 2019/20 budget. 

Integrated plan report to Cabinet

 

Current challenges and pressures

We provide vital services to everyone who lives in Hertfordshire, whether that’s providing social care to young and old, maintaining the county’s 3,000 miles of road, planning ahead for our growing and ageing population or running the county’s fire and rescue service.

We continues to face significant financial challenges. Since 2010 the Government has been significantly reducing its grant to councils and the number of people living in Hertfordshire has been growing every year. Since this period began, we have made savings of almost £315 million from our current annual budget and we must make further savings of £99 million by 2022. Had we not made these savings, the amount of council tax we would need from our residents would be around 50% higher than it currently is. This would equate to a council tax bill at band D being nearly £650 pounds higher per year.  

As our population ages and more people require care, more of our budget will be spent on supporting older people. For instance, an additional £10.6 million was needed to support older and vulnerable people this year. We also have a growing number of children in the county who need school places.

This is why it is important that we get your views so we can continue to provide the right services for the right people, making sure we are focusing on those that matter most to you and at the same time delivering our services in the most efficient way.

We also face a number of pressures which has meant we have had to spend more in certain areas. In the current financial year this includes:

  • Demography - The impact of more people using our services has meant we have had to spend an extra £10.6 million in 2017/18
  • Legislative - The implementation of the National Living Wage resulted in an increase in costs of £5.7 million. Other unavoidable costs including changes in what we are required to do by law meant we had to spend a further £15.3 million
  • Inflation - Increases in rates for utility bills, business rates, pay and contracts increased our costs by £8.1 million
  • Technical adjustment - Changes to the services we are responsible for and specific funding received from government, resulted in a reduction to our budget of £3 million

Feedback from last year's survey

The survey results from residents who completed the survey last year showed that they would like to know more about where our funding comes from, how our budget is spent and what priorities our services have for the upcoming year.

Where our funding comes from

Council Tax income - 70%

  • We raised the core element of council tax by 1.99% for 2017/18. We also increased council tax by a further 3% to add to the adult social care precept to help meet the increasing costs of social care.

Business rates - 6%

  • Businesses are charged business rates each year. Rates are set by the government and local councils collect these as a form of tax which contribute to the cost of local services.  Since 2013, local authorities have been able to keep a proportion of this and invest it in local services.

Government grants - 17%

  • We receive funding each year from the government in the form of grants. Some grants must be spent on specific services e.g: the Public Health grant.

Revenue support grant - 3%

  • Our revenue support grant from central government, which we can spend on any service, was reduced by £35 million in the 2017/18 financial year. It was reduced by £22 million for 2018/19 and it is expected to be reduced by a further £21 million in 2020/21. This, along with reductions in other grants, puts great pressure on Hertfordshire to balance its books each year. 

Other income - 4%

  • This includes any other income the council receives such as funding from the NHS Better Care fund.

 

Future priorities, pressures and challenges

Adult care


Challenges

  • The population of people aged 85 and over is forecast to more than double by 2030. This is likely to have an impact on the need for social care.
  • It is difficult to source care for individuals at a price that the council can afford and providers in the market are often at risk of failure or may wish to hand back individual contracts.
  • The average age of older people who need support continues to rise, with more people living with multiple and complex long-term health conditions.
  • There is an increasing shortage of home care services, which is a significant and ongoing concern.

Priorities

  • Build on our work to deliver services that prevent future need, help people get back on track after illness and support disabled people to be independent, living purposeful lives.
  • Join up health and care services for people with long-term conditions or disabilities to maximise their independence and satisfaction and support their family carers.
  • Raise the profile of care and support professions and attract people to join the social care workforce.
  • Develop service user accommodation plans for each district area in consultation with district councils.

Children's services (including child protection, care for vulnerable children, early years and education)


Challenges

  • The forecast increase in the 0-19 population between 2018 and 2027 is 11.9%, requiring a proportionate increase in service provision.
  • The increases in Hertfordshire are particularly pronounced in the 10-14 age group (18.5% growth projected) and 15-19 age group (20.5% growth projected). These age groups tend to be those with the highest needs in the children looked after population, potentially putting further concentrated pressure on Specialist Services budgets.
  • Population growth and changes in expectations and needs require additional secondary and special school places.
  • A lack of availability of placements for children looked after, particularly teenagers (both fostering and residential) is leading to increased costs particularly for those with high needs and complex behaviours.
  • Pressures on funding available to partners, especially schools, is increasing.

Responses

  • The 0-25 Integration for Children and Young People with Additional Needs Programme to continue to improve services and reduce costs through better integration.
  • Continuing to embed the Families First Programme for supporting families at the earliest opportunity.
  • Expansion of Family Safeguarding to include educational support at Key Stage 2 and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Priorities

  • To seek to preserve and enhance for the future the existing high quality of educational provision in the county, including for children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
  • To continue to improve existing high standards in Hertfordshire schools, and in particular to improve the attainment of disadvantaged children.

Environment (including highways, transport, waste and planning for growth pressures)


Environment, planning and transport

  • Key pressures and challenges arise from the geography of Hertfordshire, the pressure for growth and development, population change and the high expectations of our communities.
  • Over 95% of Hertfordshire is covered by some form of planning constraint, for example Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and high grade agricultural Land, making planning for growth a major challenge.
  • There is a significant risk of a shortfall in funding available for future infrastructure to cope with the proposed scale of growth.
  • There are likely to be growth pressures from our surrounding areas as well as from the two adjacent airports at Luton and Stansted.
  • Levels of growth proposed in the county by 2031 in emerging local plans are proving to be extremely challenging in terms of the transport infrastructure required.
  • We adopted a new Local Transport Plan for Hertfordshire.
  • We continue to work with the Local Enterprise Partnership to support the creation of a strong economy.
  • We secure funding and investment for Hertfordshire and delivery of key growth projects.
  • We support the delivery of sustainable development underpinned by the right infrastructure.
  • We safeguard the interests of Hertfordshire in relation to growth pressures from London, surrounding areas and airport expansion.
  • We provide sustainable transport choices to communities, improve transport, information, and encourage walking and cycling.


Highways

  • The key priorities of the Highways Service are to ensure a safe and efficient highway system to deliver safe, reliable journeys, sustainably.
  • Traffic on our roads is 35% higher than the national average and our population is expected to increase to 1.4 million by 2037, an increase of 24%.
  • We develop and implement transport strategies in support of the Local Transport Plan and support the economic and housing growth agenda.
  • We minimise the draw on County Council resources for delivering maintenance services and infrastructure improvements (to support the growth agenda) by securing alternative funding sources and optimising income.
  • We continue development of a collaborative approach to reduce collisions, casualties, costs and community concerns through the Hertfordshire Road Safety Partnership.
  • We work to increase active travel by delivering cycle training to adults and children, developing travel plans, encouraging children to walk to school and by promoting increased use of cycling and walking infrastructure.
  • We work to meet the demand for travel without adversely changing the character of the county.

 Waste management

  • Key pressures and challenges arise from the pressure for growth and development, population change, maintaining value for money and the high expectations of our communities.
  • The County Council continues to work closely with Waste Collection.
  • Authorities to ensure the continued effective management of the county’s waste, in conjunction with the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership and by working with residents to reduce residual waste and increase recycling.
  • We continue to seek a long term solution for residual waste disposal in Hertfordshire.

Resources (includes libraries, registration offices, the website and Customer Service Centre)


Challenges

  • Ensuring that we support the organisation to develop a workforce strategy that ensures that we maintain the capability and capacity to deliver current and future outcomes and we continue to attract, recruit and retain people with the right skills, abilities and values.
  • Addressing the potential ‘brakes’ on the economy that could affect its success – lack of housing, labour supply and skills shortages and infrastructure to support future growth.
  • During the next ten years, it will be necessary to plan for and take steps to secure the long term storage needs of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS). Work has started to specify the requirement of a new building.
  • There is potential for technology and digital solutions to improve and extend services for residents. Developing robust user centre solutions with suppliers can be challenging, however they do often achieve long term revenues savings.

Priorities

  • Resources will continue to support the organisation in
    taking a strategic, medium term view of the significant
    financial challenges faced and developing options to meet these challenges.
  • Provide leadership, direction and support to drive transformation and improvement. This includes;
  • Making the most of our property, office and service accommodation portfolios, including through the Councils new property company, Herts Living Ltd.
  • Increasing commercial opportunities including those relating to major re-procurements.
  • Supporting the right approaches to prevention and demand management.
  • Using outcome driven technology to respond to fast-changing digital opportunities.
  • Ensure that Resources Directorate meets the needs of the organisation, provides best value for money and enables our frontline services to continue to provide effective services.
  • Proactively respond to and manage the proposed changes to government funding and other policy changes, including the proposed devolution of Business Rates.
  • Managing the strategic partnership framework for the county which brings together the key decision makers around the table to secure common purpose.
  • The Library Service will continue its programme of improving Hertfordshire library buildings to ensure that they are bright, attractive, welcoming, flexible, tech-enabled spaces in convenient locations.
  • Continuing to make further savings through income generation and reviewing service levels at HALS. 

Public health


Challenges

  • Prioritise spending on all services that we commission including statutory services.
  • Work with providers to re-design services for maximum efficiency and in support of the County Council’s prevention agenda. 
  • Work with key stakeholders to understand and mitigate the effect of any service cuts.
  • Understand the implications of additional cost pressures to our services from demographic and other changes such as increasing prevalence of obesity, sedentary behaviour and antibiotic resistance.

Priorities

  • Commissioning high quality services and providing advice and guidance to meet statutory obligations in the context of a reducing budget.
  • Ensure we continue to improve and protect the health of the population of Hertfordshire and narrow the inequalities gap between groups whilst delivering National Public Health Outcomes.
  • Continue and further develop close collaboration with partner organisations.
  • Managing any change in funding arrangements, including the possible removal of the ring fence from the Public Health Grant, from April 2019.
  • Taking corporate leadership of the Smart Prevention programme to help the authority identify savings.

Community protection (includes fire and rescue, trading standards and emergency resilience planning)


Challenges

We face pressures and challenges to maintain appropriate provision of:

Fire and Rescue emergency response and Trading Standards and fire protection and prevention activities given reducing budgets and increased growth of the economy and development of housing and commercial premises.

  • Ensure that there are effective means to respond to emergencies and that resources are allocated to maximise efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Actively seek to reduce fires, road traffic collisions and other emergencies and to reduce deaths and injuries.
  • Work to achieve a safe and fair trading environment, supporting the Hertfordshire economy and helping to reduce crime.
  • The growth in the number of elderly people living independently in their own homes will continue to be the greatest focus of risk for Community Protection and trading standards. This group represents a disproportionately high number of fire deaths and injuries from fires in their own homes, and is also a significant target group for rogue traders and scams.
  • There is still significant uncertainty as to how the EU referendum result and ‘Brexit’ will impact on Trading Standards and consumer protection, given that a large percentage of its roles and duties emanate from EU legislation.
  • The development in both the commercial and residential sectors is placing increased demands on the Fire Protection Team who have a vital role to play in ensuring that the appropriate fire safety measures are built in to the design and delivery of the building.
  • Recommendations generated as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire may place additional responsibilities on the Fire & Rescue Service. 

Priorities

  • Provide an emergency response to fires, road traffic collisions and other incidents.
  • Respond to rogue trading incidents, product safety concerns and scams.
  • Provide targeted safe and well, home safety, trading standards and fire prevention activities to elderly and vulnerable people given reducing budgets and the increase in the number of older people in the county.
  • Provide targeted fire protection activities to ensure the fire safety of commercial building and residential premises.
  • Through the County Community Safety Unit continue to work in partnership with and support the District and Borough Community Safety Partnerships in the County in reducing crime committed by those who misuse drugs and/or alcohol, and co-ordinate delivery of a more joined-up response to reducing the incidents and impact of Hate Crime.
  • Plan for, and ensure arrangements are in place for major incidents within Hertfordshire.

 

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