IMPORTANT NOTICE: 27th June 2019
Due to structural problems with Staffordshire County Council ‘s Information and Communications Technology services, the Association currently has no access to emails and cannot read or respond to any enquiries.
We apologise for the unfortunate effective suspension of services to member councils pending resolution of the ICT issues.
Meantime, this week’s SPCA “Bulletin” – which we have been unable to deliver by conventional means – is reproduced below
SPCA “Bulletin” – 27th June
New funds for sexual abuse support in Staffordshire
Families of people who have suffered sexual abuse will be able to access practical and emotional support under a new pilot scheme funded by the NHS and created by the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime Commissioner’s Office.
The year-long scheme, which went live earlier this month, is initially being made available to people living in Stoke-on-Trent, Cannock and Stafford. It is being funded thanks to a £75,000 grant from NHS England and Improvement and is being delivered by Staffordshire Women’s Aid in partnership with Savana.
The scheme was envisaged after officials from the Commissioner’s Office met with survivors in 2018 and heard about the impact the abuse had on the family unit. Through the provision of two family support workers the service will offer a co-ordinated, tailored package of care, including referrals to other specialist services, advocate on behalf of and be the voice of the family and ‘significant others’ of sexual abuse survivors. These include people who may not live with the survivors but play a role in their everyday life, such as long-term partners.
NHS England and Improvement has awarded the funding for this project as part of a national programme to deliver its Sexual Assault and Abuse Strategy 2018-2023. This document outlines how services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse, in all settings of the health and care system, need to evolve between now and 2023. It sets out six core priorities that NHS England will focus on to reduce inequalities.
Deputy Staffordshire Commissioner Sue Arnold said: “Sexual abuse can happen to anyone and can have severe and long-lasting impacts such as depression, post-traumatic stress and even suicide. This is why it is so important that the right support is available and having heard first-hand how families as a whole can be impacted by abuse, I am very pleased that NHS England and Improvement has offered to fund this project in Staffordshire. “What makes this scheme particularly welcome is that it will focus on supporting family members or significant others of victims to better enable them to understand what has happened and offer the best possible support to their loved ones.”
Roz Lindridge, the NHS England and Improvement director responsible for health services for survivors of sexual violence in the Midlands, said: “We are delighted to be able to work with local partners to better support survivors to recover, heal and rebuild their lives.”
Staffordshire Women’s Aid chief executive officer Dickie James said: “We are very pleased to be involved with our partner project Savana in developing this innovative service for family members and significant others of victims of sexual abuse and violence. Over the years our work with victims has enabled us to see how much the sexual abuse of a family member can impact others in the family. This new approach aims to address these impacts and help family relationships to heal from the trauma and damage caused by sexual abuse.”
Jonathan Owen, NALC CEO, writes…
Toilet Tax Bill enters Parliament
I’m delighted to announce that legislation to end the toilet tax entered Parliament last week, which when enacted will save the sector millions of pounds. This has been a key campaign over the last few years to exempt parish and town councils from paying business rates on toilets they own or manage. The snappily titled Non Domestic Rating (Public Conveniences) Bill received its First Reading in the House of Lords on 18th June and we will be working with Parliamentarians in both Houses, including Scott Mann MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Democracy and has been championing this issue, along with Liz Truss MP and local government minister Rishi Sunak MP.
Precepts media coverage
Some more good media coverage by the BBC recently highlighting how local councils are increasing precepts to take on and save local services, examples in the story include Chippenham Town Council, Lilbourne Parish Council and Newport Pagnell Town Council. Well done Mark Williams, town clerk, Falmouth Town Council for his interview on BBC Radio Cornwall, you can listen again on BBC iPlayer (2.10 in) just after the piece on Lucky the kitten! We’ve also published our analysis of parish precepts which you can read here.
LCR interviews Duncan Selbie of Public Health England
Marie Dill, senior communications officer, has interviewed Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, for the summer edition of LCR’s special on health and wellbeing. Just one of the things he wanted to point out was how vital local councils are in helping people to live in good health. He said: “I would reverse the importance of the different councils in local government. I would say the most important are [local councils] because they are the closest to people. Keeping people healthy is not just about diagnosis, but what really matters to people – can they meet their friends, get to the local shops and get decently paid work. And it’s local councils that know the most about how to connect people.” To read more from the interview, which will be published in the summer edition, click here to subscribe to LCR.
- Our Management Board which oversees our work met on 18th June and noted a positive financial year end result and recommended an increase in affiliation fees to 7.2p per elector in 2020 capped at £1840. Councillors also agreed on some small changes to NALCs governance and supported a paper on developing member services.
- And our Policy Committee met on 19th June, agreeing a number of policies on a neighbourhood planning, considered policy motions on financial services, boundary reviews and local elections data, warmly welcoming the news on our toilets campaign and also agreeing to support the Use Our Loos campaign, noted progress on new regulations to change parish polls, considered a number of draft surveys as part of our elections review, and discussed a number of audit issues which we will be relaying to the Joint Panel for Accounting Guidance.
Out and about
- It was good to visit Lancashire on 15th June and hear some of the brilliant things local councils are doing including digital inclusion programme, housing for unemployed people, community hubs, youth council budget, a pedestrian bridge across the canal to an isolated area, and a blues festival! Their conference also heard from the Police and Crime Commissioner and a Guide Dog called Preston!
- Charlotte Eisenhart, head of member services, attended the Leicestershire and Rutland Association of Local Councils (LRALC) AGM on 15th June. Charlotte heard about the professional services offered by LRALC, including a new internal audit service and the excellent work of local councils in Leicestershire, including running a neighbourhood watch scheme, funding support workers to help the elderly and disabled bathe and providing funding for an early intervention officer. Charlotte also delivered a presentation outlining the services and support NALC provides to local councils and NALC’s new vision for the sector.
- NALC’s chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter, attended a meeting of the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia group on 20th June and heard about some excellent work in the south-west, where local councils are working together to build dementia friendly communities. NALC will be promoting this as part of its health and wellbeing campaign this year, so please do let us know of any work your local council is doing to help support local residents with dementia.
Elections: 2nd May 2019
SPCA is aware that individual District and Borough Councils within the County will be staging meetings for the benefit of Parish and Town Councils within their respective areas to explain the procedures associated with the forthcoming elections scheduled for 2nd May 2019 (other than in Newcastle-under-Lyme district). The advice issued by the Returning Officers at each of the electoral authorities will be the definitive guidance that should be followed by candidates intending to stand for election as local councillors and will also inform clerks as to the extent of their responsibility towards ensuring that the elections are conducted efficiently.
In addition to those materials available from NALC at: www.nalc.gov.uk/elections, SPCA can provide some additional templates, including suggested formats for leaflets and posters that may assist parish and town councils in promoting the election locally to try to ensure that the 2nd May election attracts a sufficient number of candidates to stand. Should you wish to receive such draft material to adapt for your own use please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prospective candidates, including serving councillors, should also, of course, familiarise themselves with the election procedures and reconfirm their eligibility to stand. If you are proposing to stand as a parish councillor again next May then please remember that to become nominated as a candidate you will need to submit a completed set of nomination papers to the Returning Officer by 4pm on the 19th working day before the poll (see the attached timetable); the arrangements for delivery will be confirmed by the District Council concerned in due course.
The Electoral Commission’s website offers outline guidance for those intending to stand and the following documents will be of particular interest.
Section 137 Expenditure: Limit for 2019-20
The appropriate sum for the purposes of section 137(4)(a) of the Local Government Act 1972 (the 1972 Act) for Parish and Town Councils for 2019-20 is £8.12.
Section 137(1) of the 1972 Act permits each Parish or Town Council to spend on activities for which it has no other specific powers if the Council considers that the expenditure is in the interests of, and will bring direct benefit to, the area or any part of it, or all or some of its inhabitants, providing that the benefit is commensurate with the expenditure. Parish and Town Councils are also permitted under section 137(3) to incur expenditure for certain charitable and other purposes. The maximum expenditure that can be incurred under both section 137(1) and (3) for the financial year 2018-19 will be £8.12 per elector.
Staffordshire County Council – Budget Pressures
Message from Philip Atkins, Leader, Staffordshire County Council
You may recall that before Christmas, I wrote to give you an overview of the scale of the financial challenge the County Council faced and our plans to achieve a balanced budget in 2019/20.
At a meeting of the County Council on 14th February we approved proposals to close the £35m shortfall in our budget next year, made possible by a combination of early and decisive action, a tight grip on our finances and effective lobbying of Government.
We are now on track to deliver a balanced budget for 2019/20 and have a robust medium term financial strategy for the next five years.
Despite the good progress, significant risks remain around how we continue to fund care for increasing numbers of vulnerable adults and children, something which we continue to lobby Government on.
This means that despite some one-off additional funding from Government we still need to implement some increasingly difficult decisions and we cannot continue to do everything we have done in the past.
We recognise the impact this may have on our partner organisations and on local communities, but we are completely committed to open and honest dialogue as we make the necessary changes.
Part of this will be a drive to support communities to find local solutions to issues that are important to them where we can no longer fund services. We will also champion the creative and effective use of data and technology to support people.
We remain hugely ambitious for Staffordshire and are committed to growing the economy, creating more skilled jobs and supporting people to lead healthier and more independent lives, all with one of the country’s lowest county council taxes.
I look forward to continuing the conversation with you in the coming weeks and months.
Funding of School Crossing Patrols
An open letter from Staffordshire County Council
Following the Local Government Finance Settlement, we are now finalising our budget and our Medium Term Financial Strategy.
As you are aware, we faced a £35m budget shortfall for 2019/20, but by acting early we will be in a position to deliver a balanced budget for the next financial year.
In order to do this, we have faced some incredibility difficult choices about what non-statutory areas we can continue to fund, including the school crossing patrol service.
After listening to public feedback, we feel this is not the right time to pursue this option and therefore we will not be taking this any further at this time.
Although this means it will continue to cost the council £1.4m to run the service, and therefore brings with it other financial pressures which need to be met, we think this is the right thing to do.
We would also like to thank all parish and town councils, who stepped forward to offer financial support if needed to keep their local patrol.
While the one-off funding for social care and highways was of course welcome, it is the long-term funding of social care which needs an urgent solution. We will continue to press the Government on this matter.
With less money to go around, councils can no longer fund everything they would like to do, and we are being honest with communities about that.
This means focusing more on empowering communities to deliver alternative, affordable local solutions to support their families, friends and neighbours and parish councils have a key role to play in making this happen.
An update on our budget proposals will be presented to Cabinet on 30 January, before going to Full Council in February. The Cabinet paper can be viewed here
Thank you for your continued support.
Philip Atkins OBE Helen Fisher
Leader of the Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Local Council Award Scheme
The Association is encouraging councils to apply for accreditation under the Local Council Award Scheme at an appropriate status (Foundation, Quality, or Quality Gold). The County Panel has already determined several applications from SPCA members and is keen to see more councils seek accreditation in order that their professionalism is validated and recognised publicly.
Full details of the Scheme, including a Guidance document and application form, can be obtained by emailing email@example.com